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Session
1.2.1 “If everything is development studies, then nothing is”: What futures for Development Studies?
Time:
Tuesday, 17/May/2022:
1:00pm - 2:30pm

Session Chair: Joshua Ramisch

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Presentations

1.2.1 “If everything is development studies, then nothing is”: What futures for Development Studies?

Chair(s): Joshua Ramisch (University of Ottawa, Canada), Craig Johnson (University of Guelph,)

At first glance, development studies’ interdisciplinarity should be its strength at a moment where Canada and the world are struggling to address multiple crises rooted in interconnected and systemic injustices. However, development studies programs in Canada face challenges of their own, many of which predate the pandemic.

This panel proposes to detail and debate these challenges, using examples drawn from a diversity of university contexts. The competing pressures to professionalize and to critique ‘development’ meet with additional, institutional pressures to offer viable undergraduate or graduate experiences. This is a discipline, after all, that is not always recognized (institutionally or otherwise) as a ‘discipline’, and whose very term ‘development’ is contested from within and by others. Students eager to work for social transformation now have many other options available to them, including criminology, social work, or feminist and gender studies. Pandemic-related travel restrictions and uncertainties have forced many to adapt international research or study plans to alternative, Canadian contexts, or to virtual forms of partnership.

 

Presentations of the Symposium

 

Teaching ‘development’ through social innovation: the practice, pedagogy and implications of centring ‘development’ courses around social innovation assignments

Christine Gibb1, Jean-Francois Rousseau2
1Univ. of Ottawa, 2Univ. d'Ottawa

‘How should we teach ‘development?’ and ‘What are the implications of such teaching for student learners, teachers, and development actors outside academia?’ are perennial questions asked by fledging and experienced ‘development’ instructors alike. This paper revisits these questions in the context of pandemic teaching and learning. It studies how instructors have re-designed undergraduate ‘development’ courses around a social innovation assignment. Social innovation, ‘a response to social challenges that entails changing relations based on alternative ways of knowing, doing, framing, and organising, which contribute to a sustainable society,’ is increasingly being embraced as the ‘third mission’ of universities (Göransson et al. 2021, 121186). This paper studies how such an approach shapes students' understandings of ‘development’ and their engagement with ‘development’ partners, and how instructors, students and partners critically engage with the concept of social innovation through the processes of creating, teaching, grading and debriefing the assignments. We consider what social innovation might look like in a post-pandemic ‘development’ studies classroom. Our collective reflections are situated in ongoing conversations about ‘development’ pedagogies and international development education programmes (cf. Cameron et al. 2013, Martel et al. 2021, Sims 2018, Tiessen and Smillie 2016, Tiessen et al. 2020, Toukan 2020).

 

"Creative destruction of the very thing that brought me here”: Reflections on graduate outcomes as a guide to possible development studies futures

Joshua Ramisch
University of Ottawa, Canada

At first glance, development studies’ interdisciplinarity should be its strength at a moment where Canada and the world are struggling to address multiple crises rooted in interconnected and systemic injustices. But ‘development’ studies in the contemporary university context is also struggling, both internally and against external pressures. Internally, the study of ‘development’ is constantly challenging and reinventing itself through critical self-reflection, in conversation with or in opposition to other fields or disciplines. Externally, university programs face institutional pressures to offer viable undergraduate or graduate programs. While it is easy to rail against the innovation imperative of the neoliberal university (Newfield 2020), or its emphasis on metrics and managerial authority, post-graduation student outcomes do give fruitful insights into a program’s contributions and impacts. This paper draws on preliminary data from post-graduate trajectories of students from the past ten years of the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs at the University of Ottawa’s School of International Development and Global Studies. The findings demonstrate multiple, favourable contributions, but also many opportunities for more ambitious critique even in the professionalization of ‘development’ or in non-academic, activist engagement.



 
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