Professor Paul Jackson (1993-)

IDD, or DAG as it was then, was a very different place when I joined in 1993. Many of the members of the department had been there for a long time and I was part of a drive to bring some youth in. I came in as a 'Teaching assistant' on a contract that funded a PhD and gave me a minimum number of teaching hours. I had been an auditor within Coopers and Lybrand and could do money and computers with led me teaching several students and staff how to use computers, but also led me to write the budget for the big Role of Government in Adjusting Economies research programme, including a salary for myself as a researcher.

I was very lucky to have excellent guidance from people like Ken Davey, Malcolm Norris and Donald Curtis, but it is really Richard Batley's fault that I am in IDD at all and he has always been a mentor to me within the department, for which I am grateful. Throughout most of my career I have always enjoyed the academic side but also the 'getting my hands dirty' elements of consultancy, which I still do now through my involvement with the UK Government Stabilisation Unit.

IDD is different these days and it would be difficult to have the same career that I have had. The emphasis is overtly on the REF and getting published which has pushed us away from the applied side of our work and more in to research, which brings fewer opportunities to travel for more inexperienced staff. However, there are still some of us who do that more practical work and I continue to value the projects I work on in places as diverse as Sierra Leone and Nepal. I have been privileged to have been involved with the peace process of Nepal along with two of our alumni, but also to have been involved with similar processes in Colombia. I continue my long-term interest in Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, and also continue to travel. I am currently running a Swedish Government project on mapping what happens to the former Maoist combatants in Nepal.

IDD has changed in many ways, with a shift in balance more towards research with some big research programmes and a bigger research base of academics. At the same time, we have also expanded our student base both on campus and also through distance learning and the department is on a very sound footing with an excellent reputation overseas and also within the University. I am very happy to say that IDD remains a fascinating place with interesting and committed people, amongst both staff and students, whilst at the same time being a successful, satisfying and happy place to work.