‘Let there be light…..’

gda student blogs

Experiences of a Work-based Research Placement in Bangalore, India: An MSc Dissertation Project on Solar Energy in Urban Slums

By Rebecca Forster
MSc Environment and Development

The large southern city of Bangalore has become a globally recognised symbol for Indian economic resurgence, and as the national centre for technological commerce it has been coined ‘the Silicon-Valley of India’. A sprawling metropolis of cosmopolitan districts, high-end shops standing back-to-back with plush restaurants and cool bars, it’s like no other place I’ve been in India. Yet the city is fraught with dichotomies. The reason I’m here lies at the antithesis of the luxurious hubbub I had the pleasure of exploring during my first week.
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Discussing international development with the Scottish Parliament


By Dr Neil Thin

On 1st May 2014, Neil Thin represented the University of Edinburgh and the Global Development Academy at the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee in a meeting to discuss the Scottish Government’s proposals for an independent Scotland’s international development policy and aid programme. Discussions were structured around evidence submitted in response to four explicit principles articulated in the policy proposals, namely:

  • More and better aid: the policy would be guided by a binding, statutory commitment to meet the aid expenditure target of 0.7 per cent of GDP, hoping to rise to 1% of GDP, which would likely be £1-1.3 billion per year.
  • Debt relief: The policy would seek to avoid creation of any new “unjust” debts, and would establish procedures for debt arbitration
  • Gender equality: Gender equality would be ‘at the heart’ of the policy both as a goal and as a procedural principle
  • Do No Harm and policy coherence would be guiding values of all foreign policy, including development cooperation.

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Planning for the future: GDA Away Day 2014


By Dr Barbara Bompani, Co-Deputy Director (Global Development Academy)

Earlier this month, the Global Development Academy (GDA) staff, steering committee and associates gathered together for an Away Day to reflect on past achievements and discuss future plans and targets in a friendly and sociable environment. The GDA Away Day was held in Summerhall by the Meadows, and while it was not really ‘away’ from Edinburgh, it was far enough from campus to inspire us.

The day was organised in association with the Global Justice Academy (GJA) and there was a mix of joint activities, as well as work dedicated purely to the goals of the GDA. It was great to share the day with our GJA colleagues and getting the chance to know them better and develop shared projects for the future. Most of the work of the GDA is framed by ideas of justice and development work is strongly connected to the work of our sister academy.
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The “development” curriculum: nine critical questions



By Dr Neil Thin

Are our ‘development’ curricula thematically diverse enough to lead students towards a balanced, diverse and open-minded appreciation of development processes?

This question may sound too obvious, but it is important because: a) we have been rapidly expanding the number and variety of courses and students taught under a ‘development’ rubric, and b) the expectations of what ‘development studies’ means have greatly changed and expanded in recent years. We have changed and diversified, but is this enough or do we exhibit problematic gaps or biases?
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The ICT Classroom Project

20 x 20 ft Render1

ESALA Projects Team: 20 x 20ft rendering

By Shaun McLeod
4th Year Architecture Student, University of Edinburgh

The Project

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Classroom Project began as a collaboration between ESALA – a pro bono architecture design team at the University of Edinburgh, Learning Planet – an educational NGO providing design and infrastructure assistance to remote or disadvantaged communities, and Aleutia – an innovative low-power computing manufacturer specialising in the developing world. The design team’s task was to help plan and design a successful, self-powered, instant ICT classroom prototype, based on 40-foot or 20-foot shipping containers. The classrooms had to function as affordable, rapid to deploy, flexible and inspiring learning environments for ICT education and other developmental needs. It is aimed at both urban and rural areas where access to such education and infrastructure is poor or non-existent.

The initial project is aimed at late primary and early secondary school children (10-16 years of age). The current deliverable of this project is a prototypical scheme that will be constructed in the grounds of Ghana’s House of Parliament as a showcase for decision makers on innovative, rapid deployment, ICT training facilities for Ghana’s schools.

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