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WS01 - Is development missing the bigger picture?

Convened by Christopher Jordan (Global Development Institute, Manchester, UK), Adinda Ceelen (International Institute of Social Studies, U. of Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Etienne Charriere (Agence Française de Développement) Christiane Kliemann (EADI)

After improving every year since the early 1990’s, development indicators have rapidly declined since 2020. The world is still struggling to bounce back from a pandemic that exacerbated inequalities, with the climate crisis becoming an ever more tangible reality and with geopolitical tensions affecting the day-to-day lives and the very livelihood of billions.

In this rapidly shifting context, global audiences are both increasingly connected and polarised. Do we need to should we rethink the ways in which development research engages, within and beyond the development sector? Can we tweak the current course, or is a more systemic rethink required?

In its efforts to address questions of inclusivity and accessibility, should research communication and engagement be more attuned to the unequal power relations at play in the production and global dissemination of development knowledge – and possibly seek to mitigate or even subvert them? Do we just need better communication approaches, or is a more fundamental think about the role of the development sector required?

How and when can we engage with other societal actors in meaningful and effective ways? And how can we ensure that the people that research is done about, for, and ideally with, can also access the findings? How can we tell stories that link our research to the critical issues for all of humanity, as well as people’s day-to-day concerns? Can we continue to focus on communicating the results of individual studies – or do we need a more expansive approach to help people navigate the complexity of the contemporary world?  

Bringing together researchers and communications professionals, this workshop will explore what the current context means for the sector, and if it requires a rethink of traditional approaches to research communication and engagement.