Does Research Make a Difference in Development? Bridging the Gap between Research, Policy, and Practice

Third Annual RiDNet Conference, 12 November 2014, University of Leeds

“Does Research Make a Difference in Development? Bridging the gap between research, policy, and practice”

By Elizabeth Harrison (Environment and Sustainability Pathway, University of Leeds – eeeh@leeds.ac.uk)

Researchers in Development PhD NetworkThe Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet) is a multi-disciplinary, cross-faculty network of PhD students working on development at the University of Leeds. Part of our role is to create space for active engagement with contemporary issues in the development field, including fieldwork preparation and reflection among early career researchers. The network events comprise of brown bag lunches, key note speakers, workshops, and an annual conference.

This year the theme of the third annual conference is based upon a question that is prominent in most research areas and is increasingly being asked as researchers look to make an impact on the world. Furthermore, researchers, policy makers and practitioners are increasingly acknowledging the need to work together to successfully solve the world’s development problems. However, bridging the gaps (in thinking, approach, access etc.) between these three sectors has raised many problems of their own. This conference will provide over 60 PhD and early career researchers from the White Rose Universities and beyond with an excellent opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange and thought provoking discussion on how their research impacts practice and policy, and vice versa. The conference hopes to provide a platform in which these issues can be discussed openly, honestly and constructively.

Presentations from PhD researchers in three themes – poverty, health, and governance – will be complemented by key note talks from the research perspective (Professor Jouni PaavolaSustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds), the policy perspective (Lindsey JonesODI), the practice perspective (Jessica Greenhalf, Restless Development), and from the nexus (Sarah Mistry, BOND and Lizz Harrison, Y Care International). The day will culminate in workshops to discuss the three areas of research, policy, and practice in development in more depth, and finally with a Question Time style panel discussion of the key note speakers, chaired by Dr Susannah Sallu (Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds).

Each year the conferences have fed into a volume of new research notes series published in the months following the conference, and the same is intended this year. It is also hoped that key participants will be involved in writing a more formal output for outlets such as the LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog.

The conference is supported by LEAP at the University of Leeds and by the White Rose DTC through the Interdisciplinary Network Funding Scheme (student-led).