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Development Days 2019

Event Start Date:
21st February 2019
Event End Date:
1st March 2019
Event Venue:
Development Days Conference 2019
Repositioning global development: changing actors, geographies and ontologies

Working Group 7: Design Research, Knowledge Systems and Policy-Making

Biodiversity loss, climate change, water scarcity, land degradation and the related problems that each one of us (activists and policy-makers) confront every day is posing a serious challenge to us and to future generations. The ‘environmental apartheid’ that we created, nurtured and now struggling to come out of is creating a significant challenge to finding possibilities for a resilient future. States discuss, negotiate and come up with policies and plans that are based on the past and present whereas it is the future that should be the centre of our debates and actions.

Civilisations and societies, globally, have evolved using holistic creative approaches to identifying issues and inventing new ways forward. Focusing on a single or wicked problem, such as reducing and/or stopping biodiversity loss should be replaced by thinking up new kinds of dynamic systems. But, are there enough experiences in such thinking processes and successes thereof, for us to learn from?

Yes, of course. The ideas abound in the way communities have managed their local environments. We recognise this to an extent but have not found ways to deeply understand the complexities they embrace and subsequently to use their approaches towards new strategies.

Design Activism in the Context of Conservation Action

Those of us who follow the multilateral processes as well as conflicts on the ground understand how complex and interdependent the systems and subsystems have become for us to see impacts of our solutions/resolutions. The shortcomings and failures of our actions may be attributed to disciplinary failures. This is because current practitioners, especially policy makers, rely on experts from multiple fields, and attempt to bring solutions from each separately and integrate them post-idea. This approach forces disconnections and discontinuities that perpetuate wicked problems.

However, design thinking and research is not based on disciplines but is inclusive of contextual complexities, and relies on understanding the dynamic web of ‘meshwork’ (Ingold, 2011) we experience on the ground, new ways of seeing and recording, creating new kinds of data, and intricate synthesis to reveal new ideas, thought and strategies.

The need and responsibility for design, creativity and innovation has never been greater. Design offers an enormous scope for imagining new scenarios more than most other fields because at its core, design can gather ecologies to shift the dominant ontology.

Therefore, in conservation action, there is an urgent need to understand and deploy design. It is more needed now, than before, since efforts are underway to design a new paradigm, approach and action plan to secure the natural resources of the Earth for the future.

Key Questions

  • How can we ‘see’ differently or different things, when we are engaging in contentious landscapes?
  • Can we find ways of seeing this ‘meshwork’ in order to see beyond the ‘list’ of bio-resources, the objects that make up nature, and things/problems that perpetuate the nature-culture divide?
  • How can we privilege practices, processes and complex understandings of time and climate?
  • How can we record rich bodies of knowledge that embrace dynamic processes of evolution, climate and conservation practices?


Please submit abstracts to the Chairs:

Deepta Sateesh Senior Adviser, FLEDGE Faculty/Researcher, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology ([email protected])

Dr. Balakrishna Pisupati, Chairman, FLEDGE ([email protected])


Call for Papers: A Global Confluence of Alternatives to Development

Aims, focus and content of the session: 
Across the world, movements of resistance against the dominant, ecologically destructive, and socially inequitable model of ‘development’ are arising. Many are questioning the current development paradigm imposed by capitalist, statist, and patriarchal forces, and searching for radical and/or systemic alternatives. Such alternatives range from initiatives in specific sectors such as sustainable and holistic agriculture, community-led water/energy/food sovereignty, solidarity and sharing economy, alternative measures of wellbeing, worker take-over of production facilities, resource/cultural/knowledge commons, and inter-ethnic peace and harmony, to more holistic or rounded transformations.

It is important to understand these processes of transformation, their multiple dimensions, their internal dynamics (including contradictions), their enabling and driving factors, and other aspects. There is a great deal that such initiatives can learn from each other, if not the specifics of how transformation was brought about then at least the lessons, values, and principles emerging from them. Even more important, there is a need for networking and critical solidarity amongst actors involved in such initiatives, to create a greater critical mass for macro-economic and political change.

This session calls for contributions by the way of actual examples of fundamental, systemic, radical transformation, not succumbing to the superficial, often ‘false’ solutions that are emerging in the form of predominantly market measures, technofixes and so on. Contributions on any initiatives – at regional, national, or local scale –  demonstrating radical/transformative/systemic change at the social, psychological, political and/or institutional levels are welcome. Our aim is to create a space for mutual sharing of alternative initiatives along the full range of human endeavour, to learn from each other, strengthen meaningful hope and inspiration, and build collaborations amongst people and movements.

Contributions can be – but do not need to be -from any of the following domains: Food / renewable energy / water /land sovereignty; Autonomy / self-determination/ inter-legality (including of indigenous peoples); Indigenous & community well-being / life plans; self-rule/ radical democracy; Degrowth / decolonization / alter-globalisation; Social / solidarity /gift / cooperative economies; Commons/ Community /complementary currencies; Peace / demilitarization; Worker / production democracy; Feminist / gender / sexuality; Social justice / equity; Climate and environmental justice; Ecosocialist; Radical and socially engaged spirituality; indigenous cosmology; Alternative media and arts / arts for social transformation; Rights of nature; Transition towns / permaculture/ ecovillages.

Key questions to be addressed:

  • How can we best strategize for advocacy and actions towards changing the macro-situation to enable the spread and deepening of alternative initiatives?
  • How can we enable conditions for fundamental, systemic transformation?
  • What do we collectively envision of alternative futures?
  • How can initiatives (and confluences of these) relate to existing global processes, adding to them rather than competing?
  • How can we strengthen our relationships (to each other and to all that we consume) so as to be more conscious, meaningful, respectful, and equitable?

Possibility for joint publication/special issue or other forms of dissemination will be considered depending on paper proposals and suggestions of such received.

Chairs/ contact:

Ashish Kothari: [email protected]

Aili Pyhälä: [email protected]

Abstract deadline: Dec 31st 2018

Conference website: http://www.kehitystutkimus.fi/conference/

Development Days 2019: Repositioning global development: changing actors, geographies and ontologies

27.2-1.3.2019, House of Science and Letters (Tieteidentalo), Helsinki, Finland

Organizer: Finnish Society for Development Research


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