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Research and impact – some reflections Diana Mitlin University of Manchester/ IIED (Anthony Bebbington University of Manchester/Clark University/ Centro.

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Presentation on theme: "Research and impact – some reflections Diana Mitlin University of Manchester/ IIED (Anthony Bebbington University of Manchester/Clark University/ Centro."— Presentation transcript:

1 Research and impact – some reflections Diana Mitlin University of Manchester/ IIED (Anthony Bebbington University of Manchester/Clark University/ Centro Peruano de Estudios Sociales)

2 History, context and biography Steady building of a network – Frequent return visits – Research and other collaborations – Useful interventions in other peoples agendas – (Publication in Spanish - VERY IMPORTANT) Becoming part of a generation? – Or part of a diffuse movement? – (A policy/politically oriented, broadly social democratic technocracy) – A vibrant process of action research to nurture alternatives Moving with that generation/movement – Over time, friends and colleagues become more senior, Ministers, senior advisors, Presidential candidates – Opens up impact opportunities - both ways

3 From networks through knowledge to (fortuitous) impacts Housing policy in South Africa Representation of citizen struggles in academic concepts Direct contribution to Govt of El Salvador in writing mining policy and legislation Addressing Constituent Assembly in Ecuador Improved regulation of UK mining projects in Peru

4 Building capacities: ours and theirs Diffuse partnerships up to early 2000s – Pros and cons Focused partnership: Peruvian Centre for Social Studies (CEPES) – Prior relationships, trust and mutual knowledge – CEPES role in Peru – Communication and impact in CEPES – Recovering a research vocation in CEPES

5 Seeking impact in ESRC-DfID project: Social movements and poverty (Peru, S. Africa) Project as part of a larger whole: for us, for CEPES and for PLAAS This allows: – Easy/immediate access to meeting rooms (for sessions with movements, other researchers, activists, government) – Easy access to communication media (print, radio, video) – In-country status – In-country web-presence ( – Name recognition for interviews

6 The facilitation of research Being part of broader network allows – Wider discussion of findings (more serious engagement) – Participation in a range of fora (policy, academic, social movement, informal) – Easier in-country publication/launch events/public debate But – securing substantive impacts is not simple, nor may it even be known

7 Immediate issues Language (in our case Spanish) – In-country publication (eg. Spanish language book, book launch and public debate) – Bi-lingual web-sites Organizations and networks – PARTNERING and partnering Choosing partners – Criteria and implications for how research (and we) are positioned – Who chooses who?

8 Underlying issues Impact is not a-political – Public policy impacts / civil society-activist impacts – Do good impacts / do no harm precautionary principle impacts – Public debate as impact – You shall be known by the impacts you wish to have and the debates you seek to foster Knowledge is dynamic – Formal research projects produce results which are realised through relationships – As knowledge is placed, it is amended and reinterpreted – Knowledge is not owned, nor is it neutral – but it may be attributed – Knowledge is a form of power – and our actions expose, legitimate and represent Project specific relations are a very limited contribution – Embedding oneself for the long term – Institutionalization issues Financing - project funding to core funding Accountability (to whom, for what) University (dis)incentives – Bureaucracy – What is validated and what is not (promotions)

9 ACTIVE DISSEMINATION FOR DEVELOPMENT IMPACT: Challenges to building capacity through a DFID- ESRC research project in Southern Africa Dr Elsbeth Robson, Dr Nicola Ansell, Dr Lorraine van Blerk, Dr Flora Hajdu 9 DSA Conference, London 3 November 2012 National University of Lesotho

10 The Project - Averting New Variant Famine in Southern Africa: Building Food-Secure Livelihoods with AIDS-affected young people Aim - To generate new, in-depth understanding of how AIDS, in interaction with other factors, is impacting on the livelihood activities, opportunities and choices of young people in rural southern Africa, in order to support the development of policies and interventions that will enhance AIDS-affected young people's prospects of achieving sustainable, food- secure livelihoods in Malawi, Lesotho and across southern Africa, thereby addressing the first MDG of reducing extreme poverty and hunger. Intended beneficiaries - AIDS-affected young people living in southern African countries experiencing recurrent food crises. 10

11 Steering Groups & Dissemination 11 National Steering Group meetings (3 in each country) - govt, NGOs, UN, donors, academics Dissemination activities with young people, villagers, regional and national policy makers & implementers (Aug & Sept 2008) Outputs Academic papers (local & international journals), conference presentations (local & international), policy briefings, reports, website National level Regional level Village level

12 Challenges to Capacity Building What do we mean by Capacity? Challenges to capacity building collaboration: Poor infrastructure in host countries Lack of shared priorities Funding limitations Mortality rates high Mobility/ brain drain 12 Lucy Chipeta, University of Malawi R.I.P.

13 Conclusions...very limited collaboration exists between insiders and outsiders and there seem to be two parallel tracks of knowledge generation. We are therefore missing an opportunity to get knowledge generation right Yeboah (2011) Thank-you for listening Project website new-variant-famine 13

14 Reflections on the UK-Ghana partnership in a Child Mobility project funded under the ESRC- DFID Joint Scheme Albert Abane and Gina Porter University of Cape Coast, Ghana; Durham University, UK DSA, London, 3 November 2012

15 Children, transport and mobility in sub- Saharan Africa: Project Collaborators Lead Institution: Durham University, UK [Anthropology ] Collaborating Institutions: – Centre for Social Research, University of Malawi [Anthropology, Geography] – Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa [Transport Engineering, Planning] – University of Cape Coast, Ghana [Geography, Education] – International Forum for Rural Transport & Development [Communication, Dissemination] Collaborators: UK: Gina Porter, Kate Hampshire Ghana: Albert Abane, Augustine Tanle Malawi: Alister Munthali, Elsbeth Robson, South Africa: Mac Mashiri + over 20 RAs + 70 child researchers

16 The research project 3-country child mobility and transport study: Ghana, Malawi, South Africa Focus principally on daily physical mobility of 9-18 year-olds 24 research sites [2 regions per country] Adult researcher strand: mixed methods [qualitative + survey] 70 child researchers: findings feed into and help shape adult research design

17 Building a research partnership and capacity: Ghana experience Advantage of a long-established relationship [individuals and institutions] - Links between UCC Ghana and Durham from 1990s The project builds on prior preliminary joint study with child researchers in Ghana [N.B. benefits from UCCs earlier Education focus] Joint field pilot + field reviews in all 8 sites to promote collaboration and interdisciplinarity – Joint support to RAs in field training – trial new methods e.g. mobile ethnographies as a tool in mobilities research – explore key issues together Value of residential field work for promoting research partnerships and capacity building Teaching inputs and joint writing for publication N.B. 1 term spent by Kate Hampshire at UCC supports Ghana RAs writing + special issue special_edition.html special_edition.html New links and joint writing with other African institutions

18 Approaches to dissemination and impact in Ghana Country Consultative Group from inception [Ministries, NGOs, CBOs, police, transport union teachers, academics etc.] Collaboration with IFRTD for wider policy/practitioner dissemination Young researchers own booklet [2000 copies to ministries, schools, communities in Ghana ] Academic papers + joint publications with international collaborators Regional workshop with Ghana Education Services + head- teachers on School lateness policies Collaboration with UCC Institute of Education + GES Teacher Education re school lateness, local boarding, road safety, etc. Collaboration with GES + National Communications Authority etc. re youth, virtual mobility and responsible phone use

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