In Search of a Revised Definition of Development Studies – The EADI Global Vision Paper (Academic Panel)

This panel aims to challenge prevailing paradigms of Development Studies education, training and research. It invites us to think about different and novel approaches in search of global solutions that provide linkages from the local to the global and shed light on progressive approaches to govern the globe at all levels.

With the Global Vision Paper researchers and scientists from within the EADI network have endeavoured to describe their global vision for Development Studies as a basis for future development research, development training and development practice. This gains even more relevance as we find ourselves at a social, political, economic and environmental crossroads, where Development Studies in all its facets have been designated a leading role.

For a long period of time Development Studies were, with important exceptions, an “asymmetric business”: Northern social scientists were studying the South, i.e. those parts of the world which were facing “development problems” and which were recipients of development assistance from the North. A shift has occurred however. On a general level this shift relates to global changes and evolving concerns in Development Studies as well as the growing importance of the field of Development Studies in the South itself. On a more specific level it also relates to the rapidly growing global influence of emerging economies and powers (such as China, India, South-Africa, Brazil and Indonesia), and their rising role in international development policy and debate.

Demands placed on policymakers of emerging economies’ and Southern providers of development cooperation have created a need for teaching and capacity building in these areas. Higher Education institutions from such countries are increasingly involved and building up capacity in the research and teaching on Development Studies. However, many institutions in these countries are operating in contexts where “Development Studies” are not well defined and have yet to develop and gain recognition as a relevant multi- rather than disciplinary field of study (as illustrated by China) and teaching that seeks to define and enable development processes both on a domestic and global level.

This panel explores and joins different perspectives for the formulation of a revised vision of Development Studies. Presentations will address the imperative of rethinking established approaches and practices within Development Studies and research. This is inevitable in order to open progressive spaces for imagining global solutions to inequality and poverty that move beyond the out-dated North/South dichotomy.


Isa Baud, EADI President

Jürgen Wiemann, EADI Vice-President