Recent blog posts from around the School

Blog: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918-2013

Blog: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918-2013
Description
Heather Marquette, Reader in Development Politics at IDD, and David Hudson, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at UCL, are directors of research for the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP). They reflect on the inspirational achievements of Nelson Mandela – who embodied developmental leadership.
Date:
Friday 6th December 2013

Blog: Electoral reform: STV for local elections and first-time compulsory voting

Blog: Electoral reform: STV for local elections and first-time compulsory voting
Description
Written by Chris Game. Two research-based reports on electoral reform appeared almost simultaneously last week. Great for anoraks, but for a local government blog a dilemma. Only one report directly concerns local government, and here, therefore, it properly leads off. But the second is – how to put this – at least methodologically the more interesting and will receive the greater attention.
Date:
Friday 22nd November 2013

Blog: Making 'climate compatible development' possible in coastal areas

Blog: Making 'climate compatible development' possible in coastal areas
Description
Fiona Nunan is Lecturer in Environment and Development in IDD, specialising in natural resource governance and management in developing country settings, particularly within inland fisheries and coastal locations in East and Southern Africa, and in exploring the links between poverty and the environment.
Date:
Tuesday 19th November 2013

Blog: A reply to Frazer Nelson: the only thing astonishing is how little power local authorities have

Blog: A reply to Frazer Nelson: the only thing astonishing is how little power local authorities have
Description
Written by Catherine Staite. Fraser Nelson's article on Birmingham City Council last Friday was a very disappointing offering from an experienced journalist and a reputable paper – more Daily Mail then Daily Telegraph. It was riddled with inaccuracies.
Date:
Monday 18th November 2013

IAS Blog: Thinking and working politically in development interventions. Workshop round-up from Jonathan Fisher

IAS Blog: Thinking and working politically in development interventions. Workshop round-up from Jonathan Fisher
Description
Written by Jonathan Fisher. Friday's workshop – and Sam Hickey's keynote which followed it – saw a mammoth amount of discussion, presentation and critical reflection packed in to one day. Podcasts of the 14 – yes 14! – presentations which took place will shortly be available to listen to for those who couldn't attend; keep an eye on #mpolprac for this where you can also follow the discussion courtesy of our live-tweeters from the day.
Date:
Monday 18th November 2013

IAS Blog: Making politics practical

IAS Blog: Making politics practical
Description
Today's blog is – I am afraid – something of a place-holder. As we speak, academics, policy-makers and practitioners from across the globe are meeting at Birmingham University to discuss how to turn 'thinking politically' into 'working politically'.
Date:
Friday 15th November 2013

IAS Blog: From "thinking politically" to "working politically"

IAS Blog: From "thinking politically" to "working politically"
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. Most people involved in the development enterprise, however, are 'doers' as well as 'thinkers' – far more of my students hope to work for donor agencies, NGOs or charities than within university faculties or think tanks. A key challenge for proponents of the 'thinking politically' agenda, therefore, comes with the 'operationalization' of said agenda.
Date:
Thursday 14th November 2013

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part III

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part III
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. Another way in which 'politics' has often been understood by donor officials has been as a 'problem' – as Laura Routley and David Hulme have recently pointed out (Routley and Hulme 2013: 15-16). The introduction of 'political economy analyses' (see tomorrow's blog) of development programmes and interventions in recent years has – for many donors – simply flagged-up all the obstacles 'politics' poses to the successful implementation of an otherwise well-designed project.
Date:
Wednesday 13th November 2013

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part I

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part I
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. The 'age of austerity' has not been kind to Western aid agencies and their staff or to those who would defend them. Though Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) has had its budget 'ring-fenced' since 2010 its counterparts elsewhere in Europe have not been so lucky while its equivalent in Australia – AusAID – has disappeared altogether as an independent entity, subsumed into the country's foreign ministry only weeks ago.
Date:
Tuesday 12th November 2013

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part II

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part II
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. What, however, do we mean by 'political' in the context of development policy and thinking? Almost absent from development discourse prior to the 2000s – as scholar and practitioner Sue Unsworth points out (2009:883) – the word 'politics' has now become an integral part of development language albeit without ever having been clearly defined. Along with terms like 'ownership', 'agency' and even 'development' itself, 'politics' seems to mean something so intuitive and obvious to all that exploring its actual meaning seems like ivory tower navel-gazing to many policy-makers.
Date:
Tuesday 12th November 2013

Blog: The paradoxical nature of being successful

Blog: The paradoxical nature of being successful
Description
Written by Ian Briggs. The world of social science can be an odd place at times. Much is quite rightly being made of the impact of severe reductions in public spending, but when social scientists look at the levels of satisfaction with public services, many see the general quality of services remaining high.
Date:
Wednesday 6th November 2013

Blog: Delivery of public services and economies of scale: Cooperation as an alternative for small municipalities

Blog: Delivery of public services and economies of scale: Cooperation as an alternative for small municipalities
Description
Written by Germà Bel. The economic crisis has strongly affected many developed countries, and has caused serious tensions in government finances. These constraints are particularly important at the local level, because local governments have limited taxing bases, and fiscal competition is stronger. Policy discussion on local government reform and local cost reductions, as well as increasing efficiency in local service delivery, is widespread.
Date:
Tuesday 5th November 2013

Blog: Want a 50% turnout in a local election? Try Neighbourhood Planning

Blog: Want a 50% turnout in a local election? Try Neighbourhood Planning
Description
Written by Chris Game. Yes, there were other news stories last weekend – Grangemouth, St Jude, Plodgate, Merkel's mobile, Lady Gaga's new album. Still, a more than 50% turnout in something local governmenty surely merited some kind of headline.
Date:
Friday 1st November 2013

Blog: Innovation in social care: it's the how as much as the what

Blog: Innovation in social care: it's the how as much as the what
Description
Written by Catherine Needham. People with personal budgets need to have something to buy. For some people the money will be spent on a personal assistant. But there will be lots of people who don't have a big enough budget to employ someone, or don't want to take on employer responsibilities. For them a more attractive option may be to buy some support from within the community.
Date:
Tuesday 22nd October 2013

Blog: Planning and the new (new) localism - what chance of success?

Blog: Planning and the new (new) localism - what chance of success?
Description
Written by Nancy Holman. Planning in a time of austerity is never easy – budgets are cut, needs are great and regulation can be seen as stifling growth. In England we are in just such a position and in the midst of a reformulation of planning that is on the one hand meant to deliver growth and on the other designed to empower communities. Most of these reforms are being couched in the language of localism with community participation at the forefront of policy.
Date:
Monday 21st October 2013

IAS Saving Humans Blog: …and in conclusion

IAS Saving Humans Blog: …and in conclusion
Description
Written by Dr Rita Floyd. Over the course of this week I have looked at some detail at the Nobel Peace Prize. I have argued that the prize committee does not always simply passively award the prize to obvious persons after their good deeds are done; for example, to the likes of Mr Mandela or Mr Gorbachev after apartheid or after the end of the Cold War. Instead I have argued that the actions of the committee can be understood as agenda-setting and deeply political.
Date:
Monday 21st October 2013

IAS Saving Humans Blog: The biggest losers and the biggest winners

IAS Saving Humans Blog: The biggest losers and the biggest winners
Description
Written by Dr Rita Floyd. Today I want to look at those individuals who have missed out on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Most prominently mentioned in this context is Mahatma Gandhi, whose non-violent struggle against British rule in India is practically synonymous with peaceful change.
Date:
Thursday 17th October 2013

IAS Saving Humans Blog: Nobel Peace Prize. Agenda-setting continued

IAS Saving Humans Blog: Nobel Peace Prize. Agenda-setting continued
Description
Written by Dr Rita Floyd. Having working in the area of environmental security studies for the past ten years I am all too familiar with the linkage between war and/or insecurity and climate change/large scale environmental degradation. Yet at the time of the award I remember reading many editorials asking what the linkage between peace and climate change is, and whether the IPCC was the right choice.
Date:
Wednesday 16th October 2013

Blog: Could a lack of trust between professionals undermine health and social care integration?

Blog: Could a lack of trust between professionals undermine health and social care integration?
Description
Written by Catherin Mangan. The latest guidance on the health and social care integration transformation fund emphasises the need for 'genuine commitment to partnership and recognition of the challenges' to ensure success. We all know that successful integration will rely on genuine, positive relationships between health and social care professionals in the system. But are we taking these positive relationships for granted?
Date:
Wednesday 16th October 2013

IAS Saving Humans Blog: Most popular?

IAS Saving Humans Blog: Most popular?
Description
Written by Dr Rita Floyd. The Nobel Peace Prize's official website includes a list of the most popular Peace laureates of all time. It does not mention how popularity is measured. And indeed many of the entries in the top ten do not beg that question. Martin Luther King Jr. leads the list. He was awarded the Prize in 1964 for his legendary struggle against racism and for equality and human rights. Jane Addams is number two. Less well known than Mr King she founded the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919, and worked for many years to get the great powers to disarm and conclude peace agreements.
Date:
Tuesday 15th October 2013

Blog: Fast scholarship is not always good scholarship: relevant research requires more than an online presence.

Blog: Fast scholarship is not always good scholarship: relevant research requires more than an online presence.
Description
Written by Catherine Durose and Katherine Tonkiss. Blogging and social media are tools to facilitate engagement, but are they in danger of being treated as ends in themselves? Catherine Durose and Katherine Tonkiss argue for more awareness on how the research process can democratise knowledge. Rather than quickly responding to recent events, scholars should look towards sustained engagement with the participants of research and those affected by it.
Date:
Tuesday 15th October 2013

IAS Saving Humans Blog: And the winner is…

IAS Saving Humans Blog: And the winner is…
Description
Written by Dr Rita Floyd. On Friday last week this year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) 'for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons', and for rendering the use of chemical weapons a taboo under international law. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited under international law since the 1925 Geneva Convention, however, only since the 1992-93 Chemical Weapons Convention is the production and storage of such weapons prohibited.
Date:
Monday 14th October 2013

Blog: It's been 30 years coming, but Clause 38 is still really bad news

Blog: It's been 30 years coming, but Clause 38 is still really bad news
Description
Written by Chris Game. Sometimes you hear "All things", but the ancient proverb and the modern Guinness advert agree that it's "Good things come to those who wait". Unfortunately, bad things do as well, and for local government Clause 38 of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill is a bad thing that's been waiting to happen for 30 years and now finally has.
Date:
Monday 14th October 2013

Blog: Leading a Council: insights from Warwickshire

Blog: Leading a Council: insights from Warwickshire
Description
Written by Izzi Seccombe. "May 2nd 2013 was a greatly significant day. Not only was I appointed leader of Warwickshire County Council, but, as the first female leader, I felt incredibly proud and honoured to be steering our county borough into the future."
Date:
Friday 11th October 2013

Blog: Tommy Robinson Quits the English Defence League: Damascene Conversion or a Cynical Tactic?

Blog: Tommy Robinson Quits the English Defence League: Damascene Conversion or a Cynical Tactic?
Description
This week EDL leader Tommy Robinson quit from the English Defence League and began collaborating with the counter extremist Quilliam Foundation, however, POLSIS researcher Alex Oaten argues that there is little for us to be positive about.
Date:
Thursday 10th October 2013

Blog: If I asked you to describe a 21st century public servant, what would you say?

Blog: If I asked you to describe a 21st century public servant, what would you say?
Description
Written by Catherine Mangan. I read with interest the recent announcement from Birmingham City Council that they did not intend to recruit a replacement chief executive, but would instead create a 'lead officer' role. A few years ago it would have been unthinkable not to have a chief executive at the head of a council. Now, with councils debating what their role is, and the need to seize an opportunity to make savings, more and more councils are making the decision to remove the chief executive post entirely.
Date:
Thursday 10th October 2013

Blog: The managerial-political interface: strong relationships prosper in difficult times

Blog: The managerial-political interface: strong relationships prosper in difficult times
Description
Written by Andrew Muter, Chief Executive of Newark and Sherwood District Council. "The Chief Executive's leadership position in Local Government operates in a different context to simple hierarchies. We all manage at the political interface – what some have termed a grey area between the hurly-burly of big P Politics and the general management of the organization. And the relationship at the core is that between the Leader and Chief Executive."
Date:
Thursday 10th October 2013

Blog: Closing the loop: bridging the gap between provision and implementation of feedback

Blog: Closing the loop: bridging the gap between provision and implementation of feedback
Description
'Closing the loop: bridging the gap between provision and implementation of feedback' is a project funded by a Higher Education Academy collaborative Teaching Development Grant. Running from June 2013 through December 2014, it brings together four researchers – Dr Helen Williams, Dr Bettina Renz, Dr Nicola Smith and Dr Hardeep Basra – in the politics departments at the University of Nottingham and the University of Birmingham.
Date:
Wednesday 9th October 2013

Blog: Relational leadership, group dynamics and personal identity.

Blog: Relational leadership, group dynamics and personal identity.
Description
Written by Kim Ryley. Kim Ryley is a recent Past President of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and a Trustee of the Leadership Centre. He has 14 years experience as a Chief Executive in four upper tier local authorities. Kim is currently a freelance Leadership Development Consultant and Director of Torque Leadership Associates Ltd.
Date:
Tuesday 8th October 2013

Blog: Keeping the door open to new ideas on leadership: Why the public sector may be leading the way

Blog: Keeping the door open to new ideas on leadership: Why the public sector may be leading the way
Description
Written by Ian Briggs. In 1981, Ralf Stogdill published with Bernie Bass a taxonomy of leadership research. To scholars of leadership this Magnus opus has performed two vital functions: firstly, it has been invaluable in keeping open cathedral doors in a gale; and secondly as a work of undoubted scholarly value that it is has served to demonstrate how often confused and misplaced a great deal of leadership research in the past has been.
Date:
Monday 7th October 2013
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Departmental news

Research project: Evaluation of Community Organisers and Community First programmes (Nov 2012 - Feb 2015)

Research project: Evaluation of Community Organisers and Community First programmes (Nov 2012 - Feb 2015)
Description
The evaluation will assess the delivery and social impact of both programmes, providing continuous learning and relevant insights for programme development.
Date:
30/09/2014

Research project: Translation across borders: exploring the use, relevance and impact of academic research in the policy process (Jan 2014 - Mar 2015)

Research project: Translation across borders: exploring the use, relevance and impact of academic research in the policy process (Jan 2014 - Mar 2015)
Description
This project seeks to explore and suggest ways to address the frustrations which attempts to translate research into policy can bring. A focus of concern for academics is the fidelity of translation to their research findings. For policy-makers, the focus is often the function of the translation for the demands they are seeking to address.
Date:
30/09/2014

The Conversation: China and India's border dispute rises to dangerous new heights

The Conversation: China and India's border dispute rises to dangerous new heights
Description
Written by Dr Tsering Topgyal. On September 19 the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, concluded a three-day trip to India. As he set off to meet Narendra Modi, Xi wrote in The Hindu that China and India "need to become co-operation partners." This does not explain why his soldiers entered Indian territory without authorisation on the first day of his visit.
Date:
29/09/2014

The Conversation: EU pragmatism has rewarded Russia's brazen trade bullying

The Conversation: EU pragmatism has rewarded Russia's brazen trade bullying
Description
Written by Dr Kataryna Wolczuk and Rilka Dragneva-Lewers. Few bilateral agreements have ever had such turbulent history and implications as the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine.
Date:
29/09/2014

IDD Guest Seminar Series 2014-15

IDD Guest Seminar Series 2014-15
Description
The International Development Department hosts a number of seminars throughout the autumn term which focuses on a number of different topics. The seminars are open to everyone. Listen to the latest podcasts from our recent events.
Date:
26/09/2014