Rather than a personal story, this time I want to provide a short update about my life at ISS in October 2019.
That is the title of our strategic plan 2018-22: Energized by societal challenges in the outside world that urge us to think about the future of development studies; Embedded in the global South and our worldwide network of alumni and in the city of The Hague; Engaged in research and teaching, and with society around us, ensuring our societal relevance and impact. Based on our key values of social justice and equity we focus on enhancing:
Extra funding has enabled us to fill the positions now of staff who will retire in the near future, so we are busy selecting candidates for new research and teaching positions. This creates a nice dynamic at ISS, with many new, often young, people joining us.
On 17 October we celebrated our 67th birthday. In contrast to other years, this year we decided to focus on Young ISS. The aim: to learn about the future of development studies from the young generation at ISS.
In short pitches, three young researchers described their research and its societal relevance. Rod Mena Fluhmann told us about the research programme ‘When disaster meets conflict’ and his PhD research on complex disaster-conflict scenarios. He stated that development studies can become more relevant by including research in humanitarian studies. Zemzem Shigute Shuka told us about the transformative potential of social protection programmes in Ethiopia and their possible contribution to reducing the vulnerability of rural households. Brenda Rodriquez Cortes told us about her PhD research on women’s sexuality with participatory research fieldwork and analysis from a decolonizing perspective. The meeting was moderated by ISS alumna Lynn Zebeda who moderated a vivid discussion with the public. It was a very inspiring meeting indeed. For an impression of the afternoon, watch the video below.
Later in October, project officer Erika Marques and I visited Uganda and Kenya. In Uganda we paid a visit to the project run by colleague Dr Auma Okwany and Dr Elizabeth Nabiwemba of the School of Public Health of Makerere University (MakSPH). The project, Strengthening Education and Training Capacity in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SET-SRHR), adapts an overall capacity building approach to SRHR in Uganda. The programme develops training curricula; organizes training for trainers; provides academic and leadership training; conducts research and PhD supervision; and organizes engagement activities with media, social media, policy makers and leaders. The project also launched the MakSPH Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, creating great potential to continue efforts in the field of SRHR. I was very impressed and happy to return briefly to my own research field of SRHR.
In Nairobi, we visited the hub of our Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa, led by Dr Elsie Osongo, and situated in an energizing environment that provides space to young start-ups. Very inspiring indeed!