The NDDS project kicked off on November 25th with an online event hosted by Jyväskylä University. The event opened with words from the organizer for the event and NDDS organizing team member, Associate Professor Tiina Kontinen. This was followed by a welcome from Professor Tapio Litmanen, Vice Dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Jyväskylä University. He lauded the project as an excellent example of global collaboration and the type of project that JYU and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences encourages. He highlighted the important need for approaching the future of development studies and the future competencies development studies graduates will need in order to deal with the great problems facing the globe, such as the climate emergency and political crises. He also applauded the approach of global co-creation of knowledge and how important it is to the future of the field and to the JYU Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
This was followed by a brief round of introductions by all the participants, and then an opening speech from Professor Moonga Mumba, Director of the Department of Development Studies at University of Zambia (a copy of his speech will be included in a separate post).
There were then words from Dr. Colman Msoka, Director of the Institute of Development Studies at University of Dar es Salaam, Dr. Rehema Kilonzo, Senior Lecturer of Sociology at University of Dodoma, and Dr. Barry Gills, Professor of Global Development Studies at University of Helsinki. They pointed to how the field of Development Studies is under threat despite being needed to face numerous pressing global challenges, with many programs being shut down or absorbed by other programs. The question was raised if Development Studies, as it stands, is fit for purpose? It was put forward that there is a pressing need to recognize the histories and realities of the field, to keep in mind our responsibilities as a discipline, and to orient ourselves to address the pressing global crises while keeping in mind the consequences of what we do.
Prior to the event, Professor Henning Melber, the President of the President of the European Assocation of Development Research and Training Institutions, recorded a talk for the group to spark discussion about the field of Development Studies and the future of the field. In the next section, participants went into breakout rooms to discuss the speech from Professor Melber, then came together in a plenary discussion to bring forward what they agreed with, what they disagreed with, and what they felt was missing. Which then transitioned into a broader discussion of aspects that participants feel should be addressed in the project but might not have been put forward.
The kickoff wrapped up with a Zoom group photo (in this post) and everyone looking forward to our next event, hosted online by University of Dodoma in April 2023!