Public discussion with key activists: the relevance of development studies for current activism

Public Plenary Discussion with Key Activists: The Relevance of Development Studies for current Activism

Day: Friday June 30th     time: 9.30 -11.00

Venue: Boomgaardzaal, Hotel de Wageningsche Berg, Generaal Foulkesweg 96

Convenors: Michiel Kohne, Monique Nuijten, Elisabet Rasch


  • Katherine Gibson, professor at Western Sydney University
  • Jens Lund, Section for Global Development, Copenhagen University
  • Lynn van Leerzem, Transition Town and MilieuDefensie
  • Gemma van der Haar, lecturer BIN, MID, Wageningen UR
  • Elisabet Rasch, lecturer BIN, MID, Wageningen UR

In this plenary discussion we want to discuss the relevance of International Development Studies for students in their workfield. An often heard complaint is that during their Bachelor’s or Master’s programme,  students learn much about what is wrong in the world and how development interventions have failed. Yet, they are not introduced to forms of development/ change outside a neo-liberal/colonial framework. They feel that they have not been taught how to advance a position of responsibility in relation to the challenges of the current world. This is especially felt by students who after their Master in development studies get employed by activist NGOs. So the panel starts off with the question: “How can universities educate splendid activists (with a focus on Wageningen development studies)”.

Professor Katherine Gibson is internationally known for her research on rethinking economies as sites of ethical action. She developed a distinctive approach to economic geography drawing on feminism, post-structuralism and action research. She is author of the book Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities.

Jens Friis Lund is a lecturer at University of Copenhagen and a climate activist. He seeks to push Danish banks, pension schemes, and universities to divest from fossil fuels and have organized the People’s Climate March in Copenhagen.

Lynn van Leerzem’s engagement with grassroots organisation started through her study (MA Theatre for Development, Leeds and MSc International Development Studies, Wageningen) and work on a policy level (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, civil society department). Over the last 4 years she has devoted her time to movement building at the grassroots level, as part of Transition Network and Milieudefensie.

Gemma van der Haar, lecturer BIN, MID, Wageningen University

Elisabet Rasch, lecturer BIN, MID, Wageningen University

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