How can we ensure that partnerships are transformative?

Alternative knowledge production for social transformation

Ground Floor A 024 September 8, 2017 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

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Elizabeth Pollitzer1, Remko Berkhout2, Beatrice Bertho3, Dominique Lucy Malatesta3

1Portia Ltd., UK; 2 Transition Companions, Austria; 3 University of Applied Sciences and Arts | Western Switzerland/EESP, Switzerland


How can we enhance the transformative potential of development programmes that attempt to bridge gaps between scientists and laypersons; between academic disciplines; between ‘north and south’, and between academia, and development practice and policy. Yet often, the transformative potential of multi-stakeholder partnerships for development is held back by a number of persistent structural challenges.

These persistent structural challenges include: Gender imbalances and inequalities in decision-making; Overlooking the value of informal knowledge; Poor understanding of the benefits of multi-actor engagement and co-creation; Western dominance of scientific understanding and political priorities; Conflicting logics and conceptualizations of development issues.

How can these challenges be overcome ? This question gains importance in light of the global challenges that are at the heart of the SDGs. In this interactive session, we will bring together research and development communities to jointly explore a number of innovative partnership practices, which have successfully brought scientific research and socio-economic development agendas closer together, to examine these experiences from a number of different theoretical perspectives.

Session format and intended output: We will use the world-cafe setting to encourage the participants in wider ranging and ’thought-provoking’ analysis and four cases as building blocks for shaping the discussions. Participants to receive 1 pagers in advance of the session.  Questions to be discussed in world-cafe include: How do these cases inform the frameworks needed for transformative research and partnerships? What kind of alternative knowledge bases and sources are consulted, produced, needed, and why? How are do these cases exemplify different socio-cultural biases and power imbalances?What are the lessons and future challenges?

Based on brief summaries of the findings, a closing plenary discussion will focus on implications for key actors and enablers of research for development. The output should lead to recommendations for research funders, and be of relevance to the implementation of SDG targets. The session itself will be 1.5 hours long but we can use available rooms to continue the discourse outside the programme proper, and through our networks after the event.