A message from our new President Sam Hickey
I was delighted to be elected by acclaim as DSA’s new President during our highly successful annual conference #DSA2020. Having the support of members, to go along with that of my fellow Council members who nominated me in the first place, will help drive my efforts to work with Council and the wider membership to ensure that the DSA continues to strengthen our community and promote development studies more broadly.
We all know that the UK development community faces significant challenges in the coming years. Just as Covid-19 emphasised the need for a deeper appreciation of global interconnectedness and greatly improved forms of global cooperation, the move to merge DFID with the FCO signalled a move towards a more self-interested and parochial positioning of ‘global Britain’. Confronting these and other challenges will require that the DSA continues to open itself up to new and more diverse audiences and allies, plays an even stronger role in shaping public debates around development and seeks new ways to develop and adapt our discipline to new realities. We have already started to move in this direction. The past month has seen DSA Council issue three public statements on critical issues: Black Lives Matter, Covid-19 and the collapsing of DFID into the FCO.
What matters now is to not only maintain a public voice on critical issues but to start pushing more directly for the types of changes that we’re calling for. On the DFID-FCO merger, we will continue to advocate for development cooperation to have a strong and autonomous institutional presence within government. However, an international development paradigm focused on aid has only ever been part of the wider project of global solidarity and cooperation that is now required more than ever. Development studies needs to adapt to these new realities and one way in which we will foster progress towards this will be through a new ‘global development’ study group that will critically explore the need for a new paradigmatic approach to development that is more fit-for-purpose. This ongoing conversation will directly inform a further challenge we face, namely the current lack of an in-house journal through which the DSA can actively frame and steer our field of study, something most other learned societies take for granted.
Meeting challenges also means getting our own house in order, including around issues of race and other forms of inequality that continue to shape development studies. Our new efforts around Decolonising Development and strong support for the involvement of global South members are positive steps in this direction, but we need to go further in both these and other regards.
Plenty to be getting on with then! Fortunately, the last Council under Sarah White’s excellent leadership established a strong platform from which to address these challenges and we now have an excellent set of new colleagues on Council to help move us further forward still. We look forward to working closely with you over the coming months before reporting back at DSA2021 on what we hope will be a year of progress.
Sam Hickey is Professor in Politics and Development at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester.
We would also like to welcome five new Council members:
- Shailaja Fennell, University of Cambridge
- Jonathan Fisher, University of Birmingham
- Annalisa Prizzon, Overseas Development Institute
- Ben Radley, LSE
- Peter Taylor, Institute of Development Studies