On 3 July 2009, Josine Stremmelaar, Wenny Ho and I organised a workshop at the CERES Summer School on the subject of connecting ivory towers, based on our common understanding that the domains of research, policy and practice in Dutch development cooperation are are still acting too much from ivory towers, unable to break free from domain-related dynamics and interests. We discussed the ideas that we have been developing for some time with participants of the Summer School who are researchers.
A report of this workshop appeared in in the August 2009 issue of Vice Versa, a professional magazine for development cooperation, but it is not yet possible to link to it. I might be able to add the link at some piont in the future…
Development is taking place in a turbulent, rapidly changing environment. Over the years, the development sector has increasingly become aware that, in order to tackle the tremendous complexities of the problems and opportunities, appropriate and timely knowledge is needed. There is also recognition that the knowledge domains of policy, practice and academia need to be better integrated and combined if development is to be more effective and efficient, is to avoid duplication, is to facilitate innovation and is to tackle development as a wicked problem or series of interlinked wicked problems. Despite the fact that there are a number of individuals (including many of the participants at this workshop) and initiatives which are trying to bridge the gap, such integration and combination has not yet moved beyond ad hoc successes.
Cross-fertilization between the three domains is hampered by differences in incentive systems, ways and dynamics of working, timelines and priorities, knowledge creation systems, organizational cultures, and difficulties to strengthen mutual understanding. So, the main question at the workshop was:
How can we foster more structural relations between the domains of policy, research and practice?
The workshop report is available here.