January 2020 Newsletter: Upcoming Events

Development Studies in Finland: Reflections on the past five decades and the future ahead

Date: Wednesday 26th  February 2020

Time: 13:00-15:30

Place: Think Corner (Tiedekulma)

Development Studies has come a long way since it 50 years ago emerged in Finland. Born from a student movement supporting Third World decolonisation processes, Development Studies has become a fully-fledged multidisciplinary academic institution addressing global challenges. The scope of our work has expanded and emphases of research have varied but much of the early impetus has retained. Development Studies still recognizes itself as a multidisciplinary endeavor strongly committed to examining pressing global challenges and deep inequalities reigning in our contemporary world. Through research and activism, we are probing just and sustainable alternatives to counteract them.

Development Studies at the University of Helsinki will organize a public event at Think Corner (Tiedekulma) to commemorate its past 50 years and on the strength of it to seek perspectives on its future coming 50 years. The event will consist of one panel, short speeches and a public discussion based on them. The panel will critically assess the experiences of the past 50 years. How did Development Studies grow from activity of committed students with support from a handful of sympathetic teachers to an established academic discipline? What have been its academic achievements and what do we know about its social impact? After that, a set of short speeches will map the current and future parameters of Development Studies. It asks where Development Studies is now and ponders upon possible scenarios for the next 50 years.


13:00-13:05 Opening words: Eija Ranta, University Lecturer

13:05-13:15 Welcome words: Jari Niemelä, Rector of the University of Helsinki

13:15-14:15 History panel


Juhani Koponen, Emeritus Professor

Märta Salokoski, Researcher

Mariko Sato, Managing Director of the Physicians for Social Responsibility – Finland

Marikki Stocchetti, Secretary General of the Development Policy Committee

Marja-Liisa Swantz, Professor, first Director of the Institute of Development Studies

Public discussion

14:15-15:00 Future speeches (max. 5 min. each)


Barry Gills, Professor

Jara Kollei, Society and Change Student

Tiina Kontinen, Associate Professor, University of Jyväskylä

Anja Nygren, Professor

Anna Salmivaara, PhD Researcher

Gutu Wayessa, University Lecturer

Public discussion

15:00-15:30 Sparkling wine reception

The event is moderated by Eija Ranta. Inquiries: eija.ranta@helsinki.fi.

The event formulates part of the celebration in 2020 of 75 years of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki.


Development Days 2020: Inequality Revisited: In Search of Novel Perspectives on an Enduring Problem

26.-28.2.2020, House of Science and Letters (Tieteidentalo), Helsinki, Finland.

Organizer: Finnish Society for Development Research.

REGISTER BY 15.2.2020 

The problematique of inequality – or, inequalities, to recognise the multidimensionality and complexity of the problem – is re-emerging on the global agenda of development research. In recent decades, development scholars have focused more on the question of poverty. While poverty and inequality are interlinked, inequality is manifested also in many other ways – in structural, material, relational, institutional, geographical and technological terms, and through a variety of social, political, cultural, economic and other phenomena.

Importantly, current debates are critically reflecting on the fact that global inequalities are intimately connected to the history of slavery and Western colonialism, and are continuously shaped, reconstructed, maintained and reinforced by their new, neocolonial and neoliberal forms. There are, however, also some challenges. For instance, analyses of inequality often tend to revolve around neoclassical development economics and its variants, such as the human capability approach or ‘development as freedom’. While postcolonial and feminist approaches have widened the scope, more remains to be done. Further, the ‘economistic turn’ in inequality research has disproportionately focused on the global North, and has not managed to link the question of inequality to the clarion call for global justice. In turn, analyses of inequality have suffered from new forms of stratification. Many studies are methodologically nationalist, although local and global inequalities are increasingly intertwined and injustices are ever more widespread.

There is an urgent need to rethink inequalities in development research and practice. To do so, it is necessary to utilise multi- and transdisciplinary approaches – that is, to learn and share beyond disciplinary boundaries. The Finnish Society for Development Research (FSDR) engages with these ongoing debates through the Development Days 2020 Conference.


We are very pleased to announce our keynote speakers for the conference:

  • Sango Mahanty, Associate Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University
  • Dan Brockington, Director of the Sheffield Institute for International Development, University of Sheffield


The conference will also host a roundtable on inequalities in education. The roundtable panelists include, for example:

  • Edda Tandi Lwoga, Associate Professor and Deputy Rector, College of Business Education in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Tiina Kontinen, Academy of Finland Research Fellow, University of Jyväskylä
  • Irmeli Mustalahti, Professor, University of Eastern Finland


The Development Days is known for offering a platform for scholarly presentations and vivid discussions on topical issues. In 2o2o, tthe conference includes the following panels:

Panel 1. Disabilities: Embodied Inequalities
Panel 2. Contesting Racism, Decolonizing Media: Anti-Racism Media Activism Across the North-South Divide
Panel 3. Unearthing Extractivism
Panel 4. Beyond the Growth Narrative: Inequality, Sustainability and the Politics of Poverty Management in the Global South
Panel 5. Land Grabbing in Latin America: Dynamics of Conflict and Large Scale Acquisitions
Panel 6. Financialisation and Inequalities: Housing in the Global South
Panel 7. Questioning the Fiscal Inequality as an Obstacle to Social Cohesion: Cases from North Africa
Panel 8. Inequalities, Civil Society and Citizenship: Intersectionality and Complexity
Panel 9. ‘I Sing the Body Eclectic’ – Visions of Intersectional Futures for Universalism in Human Rights Theory and Practice
Panel 10. Development, Education and Inequality
Panel 11. How We Could Foster Locally Responsive and Collaborative Natural Resources Governance?
Panel 12. Quilting Experiences, Affects, and Knowledge: Collaborative and Co-production of Research/Knowledge
Panel 13. Decolonising Participatory Research through Arts-Based Methods?
Panel 14. Bioeconomy, Justice and Development Cooperation
Panel 15. UNU-WIDER’s Special Panel on Inequalities – Measurement, Implications, and Influencing Change

15.2.2020   Last day of registration
26.2.2020   Pre-conference workshops for Master’s and PhD students
26.2.2020   Civil Society Organisation event   Development Days 2020 Conference