There’s a joke in Brian Levy’s recent book Working With The Grain that World Bank staff hail from one hundred countries, but only ten universities. It might be less true elsewhere in the sector, but there’s little doubt that many development professionals—regardless of whether they now work at NGOs, donors, government ministries, social enterprises, or as independent consultants—passed through a relatively small number of institutions of higher learning.

That fact makes these institutions potential leverage points for changing how the professionals in the sector think about and approach their work. It might be the long route to change, but it could be change that sustains itself.

Cauam Ferreira Cardoso and I started talking about this at the recent Doing Development Differently workshop in Manila. That conversation led to a piece in Devex: “Teaching the next generation of development professionals.

The core of the piece offer five principles for teaching development education differently. They are:

  1. Development work is multidisciplinary and multidimensional.
  2. Exposure is a fundamental part of learning and—just as importantly—unlearning.
  3. Understanding identity, privilege and personal biases matter.
  4. Adaptive development takes adaptive management.
  5. Development work demands individual self-care and personal resilience.

See our piece on Devex for more detail on each—and why they matter.

  1. If only academic teaching were properly interdisciplinary and multidimensional. Oh well!

    I also suspect that lots of academics would make poor teachers of adaptive management, though there will be plenty of honorable exceptions!


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