Erika Bockstael has volunteered and worked in international development for over ten years, has held senior management positions at a number of international organizations, and has consulted for two United Nations agencies. Erika's return to university for her doctoral studies will enable her to combine her experiences with research-informed knowledge to affect change in the work and policy development of nongovernmental organizations, particularly in the field of disability and development.
Erika is studying for a PhD in natural resources and environmental management. Her research focuses on the inclusive and participatory governance of coastal resources among a group of Caiçara, a mixed-heritage traditional people, and among people with disabilities, in Paraty, Brazil. She is particularly interested in the inclusion of people with disabilities in development and governance, in self-directed development, in human development and the capabilities approach, and in reducing inequality with regard to human rights and social justice.
Before embarking on her international career, Erika completed an undergraduate degree in recreation management and community development as well as a master's of science in therapeutic recreation that was oriented around quality-of-life issues for women with disabilities. She was subsequently accepted into a World University Service of Canada internship program and worked with a disabled persons' organization in Benin, Africa. She then moved to Zimbabwe, where she interned with internationally renowned disability activists and participated in designing curriculum for a pan-African institute for disability studies.
Erika has now worked in, lived in, or visited 60 countries. When managing large-scale reconstruction efforts post-tsunami in Indonesia, she managed shelter construction, water and sanitation, and livelihoods programs. In the Middle East, she established the first regional office for an international nongovernmental organization. She trained local and international staff and managed projects in Palestinian refugee camps in Palestine and Lebanon, and in the Solomon Islands, she led a large team that implemented programs for water and sanitation, livelihoods, shelter, gender, HIV/AIDS, youth, and advocacy. Erika has significant experience training staff and volunteers for international postings, and has collaborated on research about the impacts of various projects.