On Tuesday March 5th Dr. Emily Block spoke to the Rotary Club on Whyte about her work with the Frontiers of Business Initiative at the University of Alberta.
After spending 20 years in the U.S. at the Universities of Notre Dame and Illinois Emily returned to Canada in 2016 to teach at the U of A.  She is currently the Eric Geddes Associate Professor of Management at the U of A's Alberta School of Business.  Emily's Frontiers of Business MBA elective looks at improving the livelihoods of those in developing countries while making the best use of finite contributions of money and volunteer labour.  
Emily's most recent project involved looking at ways to reduce inmate recidivism at a prison in Ghana.  With the assistance of the Rotary Club of Sunyani East her team of students implemented programs aimed at improving the prospects of those incarcerated in deplorable conditions.  Nine hundred men were jammed into a facility intended for 300.  Eighty percent of the inmates were between the ages of 18-35 and there were few resources available to prepare them for an eventual return to society.  Programs that Emily's group implemented included instruction in courses required for those wishing to earn their high school diploma.  There was also training and materials provided to facilitate fabric weaving and courses on computers and electronics repair, among others.
The involvement of the local Sunyani East Rotary Club in Ghana was instrumental in delivering a positive outcome in this endeavour.  Their mentorship as well as the endorsements these influential members of society provided to those they assisted went a long way in easing the intense stigma felt by those incarcerated or looking to reintegrate.
Other projects the Frontiers in Business Initiative have been involved in include teaming up with World Vision in the Phillippines to prevent the online sexual exploitation of children and developing a business case for a regional cancer treatment centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  
Dr. Block's enthusiasm for creating positive change was evident throughout her presentation.  What else stood out was her aknowledgement that the work of many well meaning charitable aid organizations is unsustainable and in some cases counterproductive. The problems that exist are complex. It's some consolation that people like Emily, her associates and her students are looking to assist progressive thinkers in developing countries to find solutions.
You can find more information on Dr. Emily Block and her current work on https://www.profemilyblock.com