Farewell from President Sarah White
This is my last message to you as President of the DSA, so it is time for me to bid you farewell. I have tremendously enjoyed these three years, and am grateful to you all for giving me the opportunity to take on this role.
We hope that you will enjoy the new website and that it will become an increasingly effective organ for raising awareness of global development issues, deepening connection within our community, and amplifying the voice of the DSA and its members in key debates. From next month the Bulletin will also change, taking a much slimmer format, as the new website takes on the main work of keeping you updated with DSA news and events.
The world as I stand down as President seems in many ways very different to the one we knew in 2017. The effects of Covid-19 are re-shaping the institutions we belong to and our relations with one another as colleagues, teachers, students, researchers and researched, agencies and those they work with. We are all, collectively and as individuals, having to rethink our place in the world, and how we want the world itself to be re-shaped. In such a context, development studies has a unique contribution to make.
As an interdisciplinary field, we are clear that thinking and working across conventional silos is critical to tackling complex problems. Engaging at depth with particular locations, we know to be sceptical of models that claim to be universal, and that sharing between contexts is most effective when founded in responding to the specifics of each. Knowing how our thinking and practice have been formed and extended through partnership, especially across global South and global North, makes us aware of the importance of dialogue in diagnosing problems and exploring solutions. We also know how vital it is that such dialogue should be inclusive, enabling people of diverse backgrounds and experience to speak their own truths and come to a shared sense of direction and purpose. Finally, recognising the roots of development studies in colonialism gives us the humility that must accompany agency, knowing that self-aware reflexivity is a vital element of any movement that seeks to bring change.
‘New Leadership for Global Challenges’ is what we need, and I hope that our upcoming conference will provide many spaces, both formal and informal, to explore together the shapes this might take. I look forward to seeing many of you there. And once again, thank you for the opportunity to lead our community over this period – it has been great fun. I look forward to seeing the DSA going from strength to strength in the coming years.