Pictured, from left, Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Rangina Hamidi, Michelle Muschett and Shabana Basij

Re-imagining global development by learning from 21st-century pioneers

By

Ashley Richards

When it comes to solving global development problems in communities, not all voices are heard. Women, Indigenous people and the young can offer critical insights into solving these problems; to be more effective, community leaders need to listen.

Students in the Innovation in Global Development doctoral program at Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society in the College of Global Futures want leaders to see the value in these voices, so they are featuring them in the Development Re-imagined talk series. 

The Innovation in Global Development program teaches students to think critically about 21st-century development challenges, re-imagine development policies and find innovative solutions. Students are responsible for finding speakers, event logistics and moderating the event.  

“The series provides critical opportunities for leadership, organization, planning and implementation of events related to global development,” said Netra Chhetri, associate professor and Innovation in Global Development founding chair. “By leading the series, we hope students will develop skills in new areas while also providing opportunities to strengthen existing skills.”

The theme for this year’s series is "21st-Century Global Development Pioneers," led by PhD students Yagana Hafed, Primrose Dzenga, Ariel Aguilera and Oluwabukola Makinde. Students recently hosted their first event, “Re-imagining Global Development with Indigenous Wisdom,” featuring Chief Ruzane and Councilor Alderman P. Negombwe of Zimbabwe.

“We chose this topic because Indigenous people and local communities need to be actively involved in creating a locally appropriate development design for their communities,” said Makinde. “Developed countries often assume they have all the expertise, knowledge and skills to solve problems in developing countries. But more often than not, these programs are not rightly fitted to solve these unique issues. Development through Indigenous wisdom offers opportunities for local ownership and sustainability long after development agencies leave these communities.”

More than 50 people from different parts of the world attended the virtual talk, which focused on utilizing Indigenous leaders' partnerships and community-centered global development. 

“In this talk, we wanted attendees to understand that development actors need to see local partnerships with communities as important; they are assets rather than liabilities,” Makinde said. “The panelists from Zimbabwe debunked the general notion that all African leaders are corrupt. There are leaders who are willing to work for the improvement of their communities.” 

Students are now working on their next event for Nov. 19, “(No) Development With(out) Inclusion of Women: Education, Engagement and Representation,” which will focus on women and young people and the different ways they have contributed to global solutions. Due to sociocultural factors in society, these groups have often been dismissed in development processes. But recent trends have shown a shift, with the inputs of women and young people seen as equally significant to solving long-standing social problems. 

Speakers at the event include Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder of the School of Leadership Afghanistan; Rangina Hamidi, minister of education of Afghanistan and founder of Kandahar Treasure; Michelle Muschett, senior public policy adviser at Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, and former minister of social development of Panama; and Gabriela Cuevas Barron, a senator in Mexico and former president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Students hope this event will contribute to the dialogue on the importance of women and youth representation in community leadership.

“Each one of these women had to overcome prejudices and challenges when leading and implementing development strategies of various types and levels of impact,” Aguilera said. “Their stories are an inspiration for all of us who aim to become instrumental in changing the world for the better.”

The talk series gives students the opportunity to make positive changes in the global development landscape that can impact societies.

“We aspire to become influential development scholars and practitioners in the world, so it is crucial that we pay attention to and learn from the people that are currently fulfilling such roles in the field,” Aguilera said.

Event details

(No) Development With(out) Inclusion of Women: Education, Engagement and Representation

9 to 10:30 a.m. MST, Thursday, Nov. 19