Spotlight on our members: WICID
Established in 2019, the Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Centre for International Development works to address the global complex problems of inequality by driving social, political and economic change through interdisciplinary research, long-term partnerships and research impact.
WICID is a meeting place for critical thinking around a broad definition of development and as such, it’s an inclusive space for posing development questions from a critical angle. WICID’s research covers a diverse range of topics within and between its four core research areas: gender; peace, conflict, and justice; mobilities; and health.
Interdisciplinary in action
The WICID Methods Lab is one result of the centre’s interdisciplinary focus. Methods Lab showcases innovative and interdisciplinary methodologies to pursue collaborative research. The Lab works with WICID’s global partners to research and produce critical knowledge exchange and teaching materials, and collaboratively produces innovative indicators and development measures to advance rigorous research on the centre’s themes.
“The Methods Lab came out of our interdisciplinary angle,” explains Briony Jones, Director of WICID. “We are proactive in engaging across the University; our steering committee represents multiple departments as diverse as Law, Education, Theatre and Performance and the Medical School, , and our advisory board brings together different disciplines as well as sectors. Methods Lab explores what interdisciplinary work looks like, and lets researchers ask questions, discuss challenges, or design interdisciplinary methods.”
An example of the Methods Lab is a recording of an open conversation amongst four members of a research data and displacement project. They discuss their participatory ethos, inviting questions from the audience as they explain their methodologies and approaches.
Other resulting outputs from the Methods Lab are equally practical. For example, guiding researchers from different disciplines on how to use feminist tools if they do not identify as a feminist researcher. The outputs explore what it is to be interdisciplinary, how to learn from each other and approach development studies research in an interdisciplinary way. A number of podcasts feature important discussions on data, diary methods, participation and policy analysis.
The Centre’s research builds on a history of analysis pre-dating its establishment, including and extending the work done by Founding Director, Shirin Rai on gendered care and work and the costs of this carework; and current Director Briony Jones’ work on transitional justice.
Using this strong research history, WICID is in a position to focus on making meaningful connections through networks and partnerships.
“At WICID, we focus on having very sustainable long-term partnerships with a few key partners. This allows us to practice ethical partnerships, find out what our partners want to do and conduct a range of activities with partners. We are, for example, currently undertaking funded research with the Centre Suisse de Recherche Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS) and are delighted that the African Network Against Extrajudicial Killing and Enforced Disappearance (ANEKED) from The Gambia will be giving this year’s WICID Annual Spring Lecture,” explains Jones.
The Monash Warwick Alliance is one important structure for establishing and fostering such partnerships, harnessing the collective strengths of two universities from opposite sides of the globe, creating international opportunities. The partnership recently hosted a symposium that aimed to bring attention to existing and emerging knowledge and experiences of social reproduction in the context of the pandemic and other current global crises. WICID also works with Monash on care in peacebuilding, calling for improved support for carers who work in humanitarian roles, and this work brings them into a partnership with UN Women, UNRISD and other major international actors.
By working closely with their partners, WICID are in a position to deliver more strongly on their principle of research impact. “Our partners are keen to have more links with policy,” explains Jones. “We are fortunate in that WICID is not subject to the definition of impact in the REF so we are able to focus our approach on impact driven by long-term ethical sustainable partnerships, impact that is defined by and important to our partners.”
“We have been working longer term with the UN and we are proud to have become part of the UN Academic Impact network.”
“In the next few years, we’d like to build more on relationships between policy, practice and university research,” said Jones, who champions the idea that research communications and impact does not mean compromising on values or agenda.
Some of WICID’s impact is delivered in a practical way, linking the centre’s research ambitions with pedagogy. “WICID has a global South mobility scheme, where Masters students apply to stay two months doing work that is useful to the partner, giving the students a chance to apply learning but also a sense of how to practically support the partner’s agenda”.
WICID have been working with ANEKED on developing a teaching tool based on their pioneering work with their Digest of the proceedings of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission in Gambia. This module development project brought Warwick’s Politics and International Studies students together with ANEKED to work on how the teaching tool can best be used to enhance learning in transitional justice within and beyond the university classroom. This open access tool will be widely available from later in the year.
Research, partnerships and impact combine to bring WICID innovative solutions. Yvette Hutchison is a Professor of Theatre, who is working collaboratively with AMY JEPHTA, a playwright and lecturer at the University of Cape-Town, South Africa. They create a virtual space where female theatre practitioners living in Africa, researchers and other interested parties come together to discuss and collaborate on their creative and critical engagements on key issues to inform understandings of the lived experiences of contemporary women in Africa.
Working with the CSRS, WICID collaborates with academics and local communities in Côte d’Ivoire, to bring together different actors to reflect, discuss, and imagine creative outcomes and solutions for national resource management challenges. The collaboration also generates important knowledge about how local expertise can be incorporated into policy decision-making and what happens in the encounter between local voices, international goals, and national regulations.
While a small and new centre, WICID is running at the speed of its enthusiastic and creative executive management team, steering committee, advisory board and researchers.