Here, wonderfully earnest and curious Christ Blattman discusses the practice of short-term trips to developing countries often made by students and professionals.
Many of his arguments are sensible. What if all that money had gone to paying for cleft lip surgery, or what if the student had spent that time learning a truly valuable skill and then applied it somewhere as opposed to existing in a state of uselessness for some time?
All of these make sense. But there might be something to be said for the value of the exposure and the experiences. Perhaps they make an impact and help the students/professionals contribute to later actions taken on behalf of the developing world. Maybe such exposures ensure that their work, thought not awful, will be better, more topical, specific and effective than it would otherwise be.
But perhaps not.
Also, this is an interesting brief of the economic advisers to the presidential candidates. Let it be noted that Gene Sperling went to the UoM.