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International Development: Looking back, moving forward

5 March 2018

Each year, the international development community at The Open University convenes to discuss collective work and interrogate common understandings of issues of development, innovation and inclusiveness and to look at future projects, collaborations and more. Alessandra Marino, the OU's new Senior Research Manager - International Development gives an insight into this year's retreat.

With two days of lively and diverse presentations and discussions, the Strategic Research Area (SRA) retreat (held at the MK House, 20/21 Feb 2018) was an excellent opportunity to check in on our collective work and interrogate common understandings of issues of development, innovation and inclusiveness.

Presentations from current research projects funded through our latest round of Seedcorn Funding demonstrated the interdisciplinary nature of our research, which is truly global – focusing on rural India, sub-Saharan Africa, but also on the role of the UK vis-à-vis China as a rising power. In 2017/18, the funds enabled innovative pilot projects, such as explorations of the use of 360o cameras in Indian classrooms and a preliminary study of modern slavery in the EU, which are informing our numerous bids in preparation. We have scheduled the submissions of three large bids in March and others rolling out from April onwards, while looking at GCRF calls as major opportunities.

The retreat has also provided us with an occasion to hear stimulating presentations from our PhD students and discuss the ways in which the SRA community can further make its research feed directly into teaching and scholarship. The production of excellent outputs for the REF is a priority and we will support the development of great ideas and their translation into outputs through a new series of workshops and events. Emerging themes include scoping work with the Space SRA, investigating the role of technologies for development in education and healthcare and looking at law and development.

Professor Giles Mohan, Director, Strategic Research Area in International Develpment and Inclusive Innovation, said: “The SRA IDII is forging ahead with some great initiatives.  Our fabulous new Research Manager, Alessandra Marino, is in post and helping us develop a series of large bids to ESRC and GCRF. We’ve also lined up some fascinating workshop events for the coming year and are working towards the hosting of the 2019 Development Studies Association in June of next year. So, it’s really busy but really exciting.”

We want to thank all the participants for creating an exciting intellectual environment and for fuelling the passion that animates our collective research work.

Alessandra Marino
Senior Research Manager - International Development

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To find out more about our work, or to discuss a potential project, please contact:

International Development Research Office
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)1908 858502
E: international-development-research@open.ac.uk