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Professor Gordon Wilson

Gordon Wilson

Profile summary

Professional biography

Early career in the sciences, later involved in the cooperative movement. He started to work for the Open University full-time in September 1987. He has been writing and researching on development issues for many years. These include technological capabilities, professional expertise and practice, knowledge production through active social learning, and science and technology for development. He has also written extensively on sustainable development. In addition to the projects with Hazel Johnson outlined above, he has also investigated how development professionals conceptualise development management as demonstrated through research projects carried out for the Open University.

From March 2006 to February 2010 he was the first Director of the inter-faculty 'Environment, Development and International Studies' Programme. In this role he had overall responsibility for curriculum development, quality and promotion of three undergraduate degrees and three taught Masters' degrees, together with associated diplomas.

He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research interests

  • The lived experience of climate change, involving collaboration with African Universities and senior NGO practitioners who are also alumni of the Open University Development Management MSc in Africa.
  • Social learning and knowledge transfer and production in partnerships (especially municipal partnerships) and other social engagements in the South.
  • The relationship between knowledge, learning and practice;
  • Development expertise and the agency of professional development experts.
  • Science and technology for development.

Teaching interests

Chaired the production presentation and presentation of the interdisciplinary undergraduate development studies course at the Open University (1992-2003 and again since 2006), the postgraduate development studies course in the Development Management Programme (1997-2002), and the residential school course: ‘Working with conflict’ (2005). He has written extensively for other courses in the Postgraduate Development Management Programme and most recently (2006/7) he has co-authored with Hazel Johnson an undergraduate teaching text on ICTs and development. From 1998 to 2000 he was seconded 40% to the Refugees Studies Centre at University of Oxford to re-design its international summer school in forced migration according to active learning principles. In 2004 he created a Sustainable development in practice network of OU academic staff, associate lecturers and African alumni from the OU Development Management Programme. The network held a major conference in Kampala October 2006, out of which a Reader on environment, development and sustainability was created. In 2009, he led a successful bid involving 9 European HEIs across 6 countries, for an Erasmus grant to support Masters dissertations in the broad area of 'The lived experience of climate change'. The project started in October 2009 and will last until May 2012.