The birth of a discipline 2: The visit to Leeds
Between 10-14 May 2009 the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) and POLIS hosted a visit from the Romanian working group which aims to create an MA in international development studies.
The group consisted of four members from the main Romanian universities, Dragos Huru (Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest), Bogdan Radu (Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca), Lucian Vesalon (West University Timisoara) and Bogdan Stefanachi (AIC University Iasi), plus Denisa Brand-Jacobsen from the UNDP.
The study visit was a follow up to an initial workshop held in Bucharest in January 2009, at which Dr. Simon Lightfoot and Professor Ruth Pearson gave advice to their Romanian counterparts on curriculum development in Development Studies. The Leeds visit was an opportunity for the working group to discuss their plans for an MA curricula with members of CDS (including current students on the MA in Development Studies in POLIS, to share best practice experience and to discussion a module for the Romanian post graduate degrees.
In particular discussion focused upon what we teach in development studies here at Leeds, especially what we regard as the core curricula for the subject, and how this might work in the Romanian context. The Leeds "model" was seen to be one that fitted their current situation in terms of staffing and existing modules. According to Dr. Lightfoot "Leeds offers a unique programme in European and Development Studies which is of particular relevance to Romania as a new EU development donor". An interesting exchange about the
teaching of gender was then followed by a wider debate about the future direction of the discipline and the links between teaching and research. The discussion also examined the internship experience we have in Leeds and the possibility of Erasmus links. They also saw the impressive collection of resources for development studies in the Brotherton library.
The Wednesday was taken up with a visit to the University of Bradford where they met colleagues from the Department of Peace Studies and Development Studies before sampling the delights of a Mumtaz curry!
Finally before they left they met with colleagues from the School of the Environment. Overall, the visit was a great success. They noted the "interaction with Leeds University staff has been very relevant to assess realities of the field, play on our strengths and manage the weaknesses". Thanks to all who made the trip worthwhile, especially the CDS/POLIS staff and students who gave their time and experience.