Global Development Institute Blog

Global Development Institute Blog

We’re the Global Development Institute at The University of Manchester: where critical thinking meets social justice.

Bicentenary Way Celebrates GDI Trailblazers

Bicentenary Way Celebrates GDI Trailblazers

2024 marks the 200th anniversary of the University of Manchester, spurring both celebration and reflection on the rich history of the University and the talented individuals it has nurtured. To pay tribute to its notable alumni, the University has launched Bicentenary Way, showcasing those who have shaped its journey since 1824.

Bicentenary Way, located in Brunswick Park opposite the Queen’s Arch, honours celebrities such as Simon Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Lemn Sissay, well-known historical figures, and individuals excelling in their field who embody the University’s values and community spirit. As the University embarks on its third century of teaching, Bicentenary Way will continue to evolve, celebrating the people who make a difference and ensuring that their legacy remains connected to the campus and the city.

GDI is proud to see our work and history reflected by the inclusion of two of our alumni on Bicentenary Way, Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng and Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, as well as Sir Arthur Lewis, who shaped much of what we now know as development economics.

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Decolonising Development Studies: Progress, challenges, and the role of the Africa Charter

Decolonising Development Studies: Progress, challenges, and the role of the Africa Charter

By Dr Louisa Hann

On Thursday, 30th May 2024, the Development Studies Association (DSA) hosted a webinar exploring the critical need to decolonise Development Studies and tackle the epistemic inequities that govern a Eurocentric research landscape. The discussion also addressed the role of the Africa Charter for Transformative Research Collaboration in achieving such aims – a framework designed to advance Africa-centred scholarship and epistemologies within the global production of scientific knowledge.

Chaired by GDI’s Head, Professor Sam Hickey, the panel comprised of Professor Isabella Aboderin (University of Bristol), Dr Divine Fuh (University of Cape Town), Professor Puleng Segalo (University of South Africa), and Professor Peter Taylor (Institute of Development Studies).

The conversation that emerged during the hour-long session – which you can view on the DSA’s YouTube channel – was dynamic and wide-ranging, raising a multitude of questions for further scrutiny and discussion.

 

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How are GDI academics tackling the ‘polycrisis’ ?

How are GDI academics tackling the ‘polycrisis’ ?

By Louisa Hann

The world has witnessed seismic political, social, and economic shifts since the turn of the new millennium. From the financial crash of 2008 to the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, the frequency and severity of era-shaping events seem to have ramped up over the past couple of decades. Some – like historian Adam Tooze – have adopted the term ‘polycrisis’ as shorthand to describe the web of acute and convergent challenges confronting humanity at this moment in time. Others prefer the term ‘permacrisis’ to capture the feeling that we’re living through an extended period of emergency and uncertainty.

However we choose to define the current political and social landscape, there’s no doubt scholars must grapple with the interconnectedness of global problems if they want to understand the present. For many, this means casting a critical eye over established development frameworks that emerged during a time of relatively stable capitalist hegemony and may no longer be fit for purpose.

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Reflections on the SEED PGR Conference 2024: A Journey of Collaboration and Innovation

Reflections on the SEED PGR Conference 2024: A Journey of Collaboration and Innovation

The School of Environment, Education, and Development (SEED) held its annual conference for postgraduate researchers on Wednesday, 22nd May 2024. Designed to provide a platform for PhD students to share their research insights, the conference gave students and staff an opportunity to network and engage with work occurring within the SEED community.

PhD student Zhuo Sun was part of the organising committee for this year’s committee. Below, Zhuo describes some of the processes involved with creating the event and reflects on some of its successes.

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Opinion: It’s time to transform the economics curriculum

Opinion: It’s time to transform the economics curriculum

The University of Manchester’s Post-Crash Economics Society and Rethinking Economics recently launched a report examining whether the economics curriculum is fit for purpose in an increasingly turbulent twenty-first century. One of GDI’s undergraduate students – Sammi Dé – was involved in the conception and writing of the report, using what he has learned during his studies to proffer constructive critique of orthodoxies within mainstream economics. In the following blog post, Sammi provides some background to the report and his personal academic journey. 

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Kenya’s flood evictions may violate the law

Kenya’s flood evictions may violate the law

Published 17/05/2024 in The Conversation

Recent floods in Kenya have left at least 270 people dead, displaced more than 200,000 and destroyed property, infrastructure and livelihoods across the country. In Nairobi, hundreds of people in informal settlements were left homeless and thousands were displaced. And now, the government has been evicting people from flood-prone areas.

Smith Ouma is a legal expert with a focus on urban governance. His research has covered land and tenure rights in Nairobi’s informal settlements. Moina Spooner, from The Conversation Africa, asked Ouma to share his thoughts on the government’s response to the flooding in Nairobi’s informal settlements and how it can be improved.

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The Global Development Institute at the Development Studies Association Conference 2024

The Global Development Institute at the Development Studies Association Conference 2024

Academics from across GDI will head down to London next month to participate in the highly anticipated Development Studies Association Conference 2024, which is taking place at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, between Wednesday 26th June and Friday 28th June.

This year’s theme is ‘Social justice and development in a polarising world’, and speakers across a range of disciplines and specialities will explore how increasing political polarisation – both at the global and national level – is affecting debates surrounding social justice, global development, inequality and marginalisation, and much more in between.

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Beyond ‘welfare state’ idealism: Is it time for a general theory of social protection?

Beyond ‘welfare state’ idealism: Is it time for a general theory of social protection?

By Armando Barrientos, Professor Emeritus of Poverty and Social Justice at the Global Development Institute

Discussions surrounding how Latin American states can support less advantaged citizens have often looked to European ‘welfare states’ as exemplary models for reducing inequality and tackling poverty. Chile’s young President Gabriel Boric, for example, ran an election campaign built on promises to dismantle neoliberalism through increased public spending and ‘welfare state’ provisions, among other things.

In some ways, it’s easy to see why the ‘welfare state’ model is appealing. Nordic countries, for example, are often praised for their universalist approach, providing a strong financial safety net for citizens, as well as promoting equal opportunities through well-funded public services.

But what if ‘welfare states’ represent the exception to the rule when it comes to supporting less advantaged people throughout the world? What if the uneven nature of capitalist development means Latin American states cannot usefully implement some of Europe’s tried-and-tested welfare mechanisms? This article explores how theorists of social protection can better understand and address such a problem.

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