Our senior staff and department colleagues welcome you to The University of Manchester and outline what to expect in the year ahead.
Prof Khalid Nadvi, Managing Director, Global Development Institute (GDI)
A warm welcome to the Global Development Institute for all our incoming students.
You join us at a time of great uncertainty. This time last year, no one could have predicted the world we would currently be facing. Alongside countless death and serious illness worldwide, the global spread of Covid-19 has closed economies, closed borders, and closed off much physical social contact between our friends and loved ones. It has also generated huge economic and social challenges across the world, with the impacts often most severely felt by the most disadvantaged communities. It is strikingly evident that the pandemic has exacerbated social, economic, racial and spatial inequalities. This holds as true in our own hinterland of Manchester as globally. Predictions around the pandemic’s impacts upon the world’s fight against poverty are catastrophic, setting back the world’s poverty-fighting agenda by at least 30 years.
The COVID crisis also highlights a key issue that GDI researchers have advocated for several years, that Development Studies needs to move its focus from ‘international’ to the idea of ‘global’ development. The pandemic is a development challenge facing all countries and debunks the assumption that the global North has all the expertise and solutions to tackle global challenges. Never has the need for critical and multi-disciplinary insight into global challenges been so glaring. This makes it an important time to be taking the next step in your Development Studies journey. Seismic shifts taking place globally, nationally and locally require us to ask new questions, in new ways, with new-found urgency in order to respond to and move on from this crisis.
Can we develop a radically different version of ‘development’ that helps economies to ‘recover’ in ways that tackle the urgent threat of climate change? Which spaces of action – the global, national or local – have been most important in responding urgently and effectively, and will these lessons lead to any reconfiguration of an international aid system that has been financially weakened by the economic slow-down? Will the recent waves of global protest linked to the Black Lives Matter movement result in an increasing spotlight on social inequalities and greater transformative action? These are just some of the critical questions you’ll grapple with over the next year. A master’s degree is not about giving you answers. It is about teaching critical thinking and we look forward to the contribution you can make here. GDI researchers are engaged in cutting-edge research analysing and addressing multiple faces of issues of poverty, inequality and development across a myriad of contexts.
Our research-led teaching will help you to learn from and build upon these findings, and we encourage you to take advantage of the spaces for active learning that we create, to join in through questions and debate and to share the knowledge and experiences that each of you brings to the Institute. Please make the most of your time with us by taking advantage of the opportunities you will have to get a broader take on Development Studies, through the high-profile public lecture series, seminars and discussions we offer.
All our staff at the Global Development Institute have been working incredibly hard to prepare to deliver the same quality of teaching and learning to you in the year ahead. Where necessary this will be done ‘online’, and where possible we will take advantage of small face-to-face teaching while ensuring that students are not disadvantaged by their ability or inability to be physically present in Manchester. Uncertainty looks likely to become a ‘new normal’ in this new global landscape, and we look forward to working with you to navigate this confidently in the year ahead. Rest assured that we will do our best to support you at every step of your journey through your studies at Manchester over this coming year.
The Global Development Institute’s vision is of a socially just and sustainable world in which all people have opportunities to flourish. We are proud of making an impact through our teaching, our research and the wider engagement with societies that go with this. We look forward to you being an important part of our mission from now on.
Once again, a very warm welcome and with very best wishes.