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International university cooperation in development research - meeting global challenges

DEV PhD students Ben Taylor, Jake Lomax, Aidy Halimanjaya, Citlalli Becerril-Tinoco and Camilla Addey were invited to the University of Ruhr in Bochum (RUB) on the occasion of the D-Day – the Development Day on 15th November 2011.

The event was organized as an occasion to celebrate the opening of the UAMR Graduate Centre for Development Studies – a cooperation between the Ruhr University in Bochum and the University of Duisburg-Essen (Bochum, Essen and Duisburg are three neighbouring towns in the North-West of Germany).

UAMR stands for the University Alliance Metropolis Ruhr (, an association that gives participating universities the opportunity to enhance cooperation. The UAMR Graduate Centre for Development Studies will allow the IEE (Institute of Development Research and Development Policy) at the Ruhr-University in Bochum, the IfP (Institute for Political Science) and the INEF (Institute for Peace and Development), both at the University of Duisburg-Essen, to combine their individual strengths in the field of development research. The focus will be on interchange and cooperation between the Master and PhD programmes which the individual institutes offer, as well as on identifying potential for joint research projects. The involvement of UEA DEV was an opportunity to informally create international links with other universities around the world, in the hope of creating stronger connections which will allow students, researchers and lecturers to contribute to and complement each other’s development research. Indeed, as the UEA PhD students pointed out, the approach of the IEE is more economic and thus allowed some of the PhD students and lectures to exchange advice and ideas on research.

The Development Day was opened by speeches given by Prof. Dr. Elmar Weiler, the rector of the University of Ruhr in Bochum and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Radtke, the rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen. These were followed by the members of the executive board of the newly founded Development Graduate Center, Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Löwenstein, Dr. Gabriele Bäcker from the IEE and Prof. Dr. Tobias Debiel together with Prof. Christoph Hartmann from the IfP/ INEF, who signed the formal memorandum of understanding between the institutes, sealing the greatly applauded partnership. The signing was followed by an engaging presentation given by the Rector and Vice‐Chancellor Prof. Brian O’Connell from the University of Western Cape in South Africa – who recited poems, made jokes and also projected great photos – whilst really managing to tell the story of the development challenge. Prof. Brian O’Connell concluded that it is through universities coming together and furthering knowledge that sustainable answers might be found to the global challenges with which we are all faced.

The five UEA poster presentations were among the over 30 posters presented by research students during the event – most of which focused on poverty reduction, water safety, climate change, conflict, migration, foreign aid, global policy and governance - most of all concentrating on Africa and Asia. The afternoon was taken up by six presentations and discussions on inequalities and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, good governance, development policies, development myths, civil society and cooperation.

The IEE at RUB offers an English-language MA in Development Management with a close and well functioning cooperation with several institutes in Cape Town, South Africa and a high percentage of students from Asia and Africa. In addition to its PhD programme “International Development Studies”, the IEE has established a five-year cooperation with several universities in Afghanistan that provides bachelor and master-level education for Afghan students with the aim of allowing the students to return to Afghanistan to teach at university, increasing the quality of local university teaching and learning. The program is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service and the German Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology (MIWFT) of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. 

The IfP and the INEF at the University of Duisburg-Essen offer a PhD programme in “International Relations / Peace and Development Research” and a M.A. programme “Development and Governance”. As a result of the foundation of the UAMR Graduate Centre for Development Studies, future master students will be able to attend lectures and events at all participating institutes while the PhD students have access to the joint research resources provided by the Graduate Centre.

The UAMR Graduate Centre for Development Studies website is

Photos: Board of UAMR Graduate Centre for Development Studies and UEA DEV students.Copyright: Photos by Aidy Halimanjaya, 2011