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Meeting the Challenges was a series of workshops on North-South interdisciplinary research hosted by Development Studies centres around the UK. The programme was coordinated by DSA, and co-funded by DSA, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Global Challenges Research Fund.
Participants included students, development practitioners, consultants and policy makers, social entrepreneurs and research funders, as well as academics. Of a total of 224 people, 40 were from institutions in the global South.
Explore the workshops below to find videos of keynotes and commentaries, as well as reports summarising the discussion.
Profound inequalities between researchers based in the global South and global North continue to be reproduced through interdisciplinary development research.
To become pro-poor, research needs to work beyond conventional academic boundaries.
Social science needs both to frame and to ground interdisciplinary development research.
Community organisations, NGOs, technical professionals and ordinary people have their own ‘Theories of Change’ which challenge academic assumptions about knowledge, process and objectives.
Local ‘footprint’ is as important as global ‘output’.
Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Zoonoses – diseases that are transmitted from animals to people – are a major threat to life and livelihoods, especially in the global south. This workshop drew zoonoses researchers from disciplines including veterinary science, medical anthropology and other social sciences, including five from institutions in the global south. Many were involved in the five-year Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Programme (Zels)
University of Reading and University of Bath
This workshop focused on research in contexts of post-conflict and displacement, and the associated heightened ethical challenges. Participants, including six from the global south, included consultants and staff from the United Nations, national and international NGOs, and academics from anthropology, political science, law, sociology, geography, archaeology and architecture.
Global Development Institute, University of Manchester
This workshop addressed the question ‘How can we plan for the bottom 40%?’. Participants, including nine based in the global south, represented diverse disciplines from natural science to engineering and hydrology; architecture, design and urban planning; geography, development studies and politics.
University of East Anglia
This workshop explored how researchers and practitioners from the natural and social sciences and humanities can work together to respond to environmental change in a way that supports development. The workshop drew together specialists in anthropology, geography, computer science, environmental science, plant science, political science, economics, epidemiology, infectious diseases, economics, and value chain analysis. Of those attending, 29 were Early Career Researchers (defined as anyone below Senior Lecturer/Research Associate level), and eight came from the global South.
University of Bristol
This workshop on educational inequality, poverty and development, emphasised the need to ‘unlearn’ as much as to learn. This means questioning the basic concepts used and applied by different disciplines, and the assumptions we make about the structure and ownership of research projects.
Of the 30 participants, five were based in East Africa, one in China, and the others in the UK. Academic participants came from education, social work, policy studies, anthropology and health, and other participants were involved in advocacy and research management.
University of Bradford
This workshop, focused on water, was made up of four panel sessions, comprising short presentations followed by discussion. The topics were: Water, power and sustainability: Systems thinking and conceptualizing new possibilities; From conflicts to cooperation; Water and public health; and Water and sustainable cities.
UK based researchers and scholars from the global South came together to deliberate over the challenges of water and sustainable development. The discussions covered water scarcity, politics, corruption, transboundary interests, international laws, tourism, gender, health, capacity building and development cooperation, with the objective of ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
SOAS University of London
This workshop focused on how to make research partnerships more equitable. Most of the participants shared a background in research on international migration, and included five scholars from the global South.
A further output from this workshop series and a DSA conference panel is ‘North-South partnerships and the politics of development knowledge’, a commentary section of the European Journal of Development Research, June 2020.
This includes the papers: