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Econ Prof Encourages Awareness of Women's Econ Status

By Kari Johnson
UW-RF News Bureau

MARCH 17, 2005--While the month of March each year is dedicated to celebrating women's history, women and economic development is an issue that UW-River Falls Professor Jackie Brux tackles inside and outside the classroom all year long. An active consultant, researcher and teacher, Brux focuses her energies on international economic concerns surrounding women in less developed countries.

She has traveled to eight countries and will add a trip to Bolivia this summer to her growing list. She has been awarded numerous grants, published a number of textbooks and scholarly papers, and presented her research at conferences. She is an asset to the UW-RF economics department as a force for international awareness.

Brux became interested in economics her senior year in college during the period known as the "world food crisis" years. It was during this time the problem of world hunger entered into the living rooms of American families via their televisions. By seeing the suffering and working with organizations to reduce hunger, Brux decided to become part of world change.

"I decided in my senior year in college to get an economics minor and then go for a Ph.D. in economics," said Brux, who had never even taken an economics course. "It was sort of a 'calling,' since I was strongly pulled in the direction of helping people in Third World countries."

Brux's calling has become her professional mission to make a difference through travel, articles, grants, programs and teaching. Brux has been to Burkina Faso, Chile, Russia, Mexico, Vietnam, Ghana and Cuba.

In each country, she took on different roles from teacher to consultant. In Mexico she was a teacher, exposing UW-RF students to poverty many had never seen before. Brux said the students were horrified by the poverty, but added Mexico is one of the more prosperous countries in the Third World.

Brux was a paid consultant in Burkina Faso, where one-fourth of all children die before the age of five as a result of scant health care.

Experiencing this utter poverty is a shock to anyone's sensibilities, she says. Ghana had the most poverty Brux had ever seen. In the capital city, women had no homes. They slept under awnings attached to buildings and worked during the day as transporters, who moved goods from place to place. Brux was studying economic reform while there.

This summer she is going to Bolivia as an unpaid consultant. She will assist in agriculture development for women with special attention to credit and extension services as well as education.

All the research and experience Brux gains through her travels result in papers or presentations. She has written more than 20 papers discussing international economics issues. Her latest paper, "Rural Development and Micro-Enterprise Credit: Strategies that Work for Low-Income Indigenous Women and Their Families in Rural Latin America," discusses how to integrate women into rural development projects through agriculture extension and micro enterprise credit. This paper has been accepted for presentation at the Minnesota International Economic Development Conference in Minneapolis on April 29-30.

In addition to scholarly articles, Brux has written and received many grants. One particular grant was the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), awarded in 2003 to internationally enhance the UW-RF College of Business and Economics (CBE). The grant establish a scholarship for CBE students studying abroad Students present or publish scholarly work from their study.

Brux also helped established the CBE International Resource Room, designed for faculty and student scholarly research. For faculty, there are conference and grant opportunities and faculty research papers. For students, there are study abroad options, sources for funding study abroad, international internship or work opportunities, and conference information.

Brux founded and is the director for the River Falls Association for International Development (RF-AID), which celebrated its second year last fall. The association's mission is to enhance curriculum offerings, to develop and support research and other projects, to acquire grant money, to serve students, and to participate in consulting opportunities. Additionally, it hopes to better serve and improve the circumstances of students and people in less developed countries such as Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Brux is currently developing am e-mail listserv for the organization.

If the travel, papers, grants and programs weren't enough, Brux is also an author and co-author of a textbook, Economic Issues and Policy. Brux said she decided to create her own textbook because she thought those available were not very engaging. It has been well received by students and is in its third edition.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:21 Central Daylight Time

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