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2E2, Priory Road Complex

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Bristol

BS8 1TH

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Global Challenges and the Challenge of Development: What future for the development project?

Workshop, University of Bristol, June 21, 2017

Co-hosted by the Global Insecurities Centre and the International Development Research Group of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Programme:

09.30-10:20: Arrivals and coffee

10:20-10:30: Welcome and introduction by Professer Martin Gainsborough, University of Bristol

10:30-11:45: Session 1

  • Aid and Academia’ – Professor Ambreena Manji, University of Cardiff
  • Critical Transformations and Global Development: Materials for a New Analytic Framework’ – Professor Jeffrey Henderson, University of Bristol
  • Discussants: Eric Herring, Andrew Wyatt

11:45-1:00: Session 2

  • Meeting Needs, Boosting Economic Development and Stabilising the Country: DfID in the Democratic Republic of Congo’ – Stylianos Moshonos, University of Antwerp
  • Promoting Locally-led Development: Reflections on the ‘Somali First’ Initiative’ – Professor Eric Herring, University of Bristol
  • Discussants: Nisar Majid, Martin Gainsborough

1:00-2:00: Lunch

2:00-3.30: Session 3

  • Migration: From Nation-States to the Borderlands’ – Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac, University of Nottingham
  • ‘Leave no one Behind? The Curious Absence of Girls and Women in the GCRF’ – Rosie Walters, University of Bristol
  • Discussants: Egle Cesnulyte, Paul Higate

3:30-4:00: Tea/coffee

4:00-5:15: Session 4

Roundtable Panel Discussion:

Global Challenges and the Challenge of Development: What future for the development project?

Panel: Mark Duffield, Rich Pancost, Vanessa Pupavac, Ambreena Manji

Chair: Martin Gainsborough

The event will be followed by a drinks reception


Background

In 2016, the UK government announced a new £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) following its 2015 spending review and giving the Research Councils UK (RCUK) a key managing role. As the RCUK says on its website, the GCRF “forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance commitment, to support cutting-edge research which addresses the problems faced by developing countries”. RCUK describe its vision as being to “create new knowledge and drive innovation” in five “challenge areas”, namely: secure and resilient food systems supported by sustainable agriculture; sustainable health and well being; inclusive and equitable quality education; clean air, water and sanitation; renewable energy and materials. At the same time, the GCRF supports research that builds: sustainable livelihoods supported by strong foundations for inclusive economic growth and innovation; resilience and action on short-term environmental shocks and long-term environmental change; and sustainable cities and communities. In addition, research is encouraged which enables: understanding and effective response to forced displacement and multiple refugee crises; a reduction in conflict and promote peace, justice and humanitarian action; and a reduction in poverty and inequality, including gender inequalities. As with the initial priority areas, all of the above are articulated with close reference to UK Aid Strategy and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The workshop subjects the underlying assumptions of the GCRF, the language of the call, and its implied approaches to critical scrutiny. Phrases like inclusive growth and resilient systems have a history and are not value neutral. Moreover, the notion that one can sensibly or legitimately speak of ‘developing country problems’ – as a homogeneous sub-set of countries with problems distinct from their so-called developed counterparts – is riddled with assumptions and open to question. Equally, the assumptions which lie behind UK Aid Strategy along with the logic and implications of the SDGs, are themselves worthy of analysis, not forgetting the question of alternatives to what the GCRF uncritically and unquestionably calls ‘development’.

Some of the issues which the workshop is interested in are as follows:

  • The underlying assumptions and implications of UK Aid Strategy and the SDGs as a foundation for ‘development’, including the nature of development being conceived;
  • How we understand the shift politically from the MDGs to the SDGs;
  • Discourse analysis in relation to the GCRF call itself and its priority areas (or the history of activity in these areas to date);
  • The bureaucratic politics of the GCRF call inside government and the funding councils and the response of UK universities, including what it tells us about the changing nature of the university;
  • Critical assessments of development as a field of study and practice, including the relationship between official donors and academia;
  • An ethnography of ‘capacity building’ in so-called developing countries; and
  • Alternatives to mainstream models of development or, perhaps more helpfully, reflections on the nature of human flourishing and how to realise it in diverse settings.
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2E2, Priory Road Complex

Priory Rd

Bristol

BS8 1TH

United Kingdom

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