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The DSA’s annual conference in 2020 took place online from 16th-19th June
The theme for this year’s conference was “New Leadership for Global Challenges”. Panels and discussions also encompassed a broad range of development studies interests. Our aim was to investigate where and how leadership is emerging at global, regional and local levels to address critical issues such as climate emergency, identity-based inequalities, poverty, violence, ill-health, resource plunder, and digital surveillance.
Fiona Nunan & David Hudson, University of Birmingham
Srilatha Batliwala, CREA & Gender at Work, sponsored by Oxford Development Studies
Alpa Shah, London School of Economics, sponsored by Development and Change
Shireen Hassim, Carleton University & Wits University, sponsored by Journal of Development Studies
‘New leadership for global challenges’ asks us to investigate where and how leadership is emerging at global, regional and local levels to address critical issues such as climate emergency, identity-based inequalities, poverty, violence, ill health, resource plunder, and digital surveillance.
As toxic models of populist and authoritarian leadership arise across the world, we will consider the bases of their appeal and the strategies they use to build support. Our central concern, however, is how such models are being contested and resisted, and what new forms of leadership are coming into being. Leadership has never been just about ‘big men’ or big countries. Leadership happens everywhere: in the back streets; in community halls; on factory floors; within peasant movements; in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples; in social networks; in schools and colleges; in homes; and in local government offices.
‘New leadership for global challenges’ asks us to reflect on the kinds of leadership that are being exercised. How is ‘behaviour change’ being led at the level of political will to address structural violence, and institute new models of public expenditure, social and private enterprise, and taxation and regulation which will engender more sustainable and inclusive economies? How is leadership changing personal and collective values and behaviour towards reducing emissions, promoting green technologies, establishing healthy, sustainable and fair patterns of production and consumption, and developing strategies of non-violence? Who is taking the lead? What inspires people to follow? And what does leadership mean?
Expressions of agency and leadership remind us that action is possible, but that it is always shaped by existing social, economic, political and cultural structures and processes. Movements for change involve material mobilisation, but also battles of ideas and values about what forms of leadership are legitimate, and how these may be exercised, by whom. Struggles for values and ideas take place in formal debates, but also in the nitty gritty of working for change, where issues of power, agency, legitimacy, authority and norms are hammered out in the praxis of pursuing new visions.
These are some of the dimensions of leadership that ‘New leadership for global challenges’ invites us to address at DSA2020. Indicative questions might be: