From the Local to the Global

Submitting Institution

St Mary's University College, Belfast

Unit of Assessment

Politics and International Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Sociology
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

This case study is based on a project which guides policy makers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in international development policy. `From the Local to the Global' is a project between university academics in the UK and Ireland, academics in the Global South and NGOs. The initiative included the publication of an edited collection of articles on international development in 2009; the establishment of the Policy and Practice journal; the creation of a network of organisations; the integration of the project into a European Union Lifelong Learning project coordinated by the Polska Akcja Humanitarna (PAH) in Warsaw; a book adapted and translated into Slovakian, Polish and Greek; and a lecture tour to 14 universities across Eastern Europe.

Underpinning research

The research which comprises this case study was a part of an ongoing dialogue since the early 2000s between academics in the field of international development and practitioners who were working in the field in development contexts. The focus of the research is a series of commissioned articles on various development issues. All the research was carried out in the summer of 2009; updates and revisions from subsequent other language issues were carried out throughout 2010, until December 2011. The book was published as From the Local to the Global in August 2009 and was the product of continuous dialogue between the participants since 2003.

The underpinning research for the case study was carried out through a series of projects funded by the British government's Department for International Development (DfID), the British Council, the Irish government's Irish Aid Programme and the European Union's Lifelong Learning Programme.

The DfID-funded Global Dimension in Education Project (2005-2008) had the objective of building global issues into the working life of St Mary's and led to the establishment of the Global Dimension Resource Centre. The creation of the centre resulted in ongoing research between the academics involved and established a working partnership with the Centre for Global Education in Belfast.

The British Council funded the Zambia — Northern Ireland Knowledge Transfer Project (2009-2011). The objective of this project was to create links and working relationships between academics at St Mary's, the University of Zambia and various NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa. These links helped to establish a research network between the two universities.

Irish Aid funded the Policy and Practice Project (2008-ongoing). The objective of this project was to establish a network of organisations and individuals who could contribute to the ongoing dialogue around the study of international development within Irish society. This project was managed by the Centre for Global Development with St Mary's as a partner. It led to the creation of the Policy and Practice journal, a support network for those working in this field and regular conferences and training sessions.

The European Union's Lifelong Learning Programme funded the Knowledge Makes Change (KMC) Project managed by Polska Akcja Humanitarna (PAH) in Warsaw. This initiative grouped together organisations across Europe who were actively promoting dialogue between academics and development organisations. The partnership included PAH (Warsaw), Pontis (Bratislava), NGO Support Centre (Nicosia), World Development Research Group (Warsaw), La Monde Diplomatique (Paris), and Universite Libre de Bruxelles (Brussels).

The overall coordinators of the initiative have been Gerard McCann, Senior Lecturer at St Mary's University College Belfast and Stephen McCloskey, director of the Centre for Global Education, Belfast. Dr McCann has been working on the re-editing and revising of other language editions and is the principal lecturer on the lecture tours.

References to the research

Key research outputs all of which can be supplied by the HEI on request:

McCann, G. and McCloskey, S. (Eds.), Od Lokálneho ku Globálnemu: Kl'účové Problémy Rozvojových Štúdií, (2011). Co-edited book, Pontis, Bratislava, pp226. IBSN: 978-80-968229-3-4.

McCann, G. and McCloskey, S. (Eds.), Από το τοπικό στο παγκόσμιο Κεντρικά ζητήματα της ανάπτυξης στο σύγχρονο κόσμο, (2010). Co-edited book, NGO Support Centre, Nicosia, Cyprus, pp369. IBSN: 978-9963-9933-1-4.

McCann, G., 'Moralna ekonomia w dobie kryzysu', (2011). In ZNAK, Number 669, an article translated for ZNAK Miesiecznik. An academic journal based in Kracow. ISBN: 0044-488X.

McCann, G. and McCloskey, S. (Eds.), Lokalnie-Globalnie: Kluczowe zagadnienia studów nad rozwojem, (2010). Co-edited book, PAH, Warsaw, pp284. ISBN: 978-83-929513-5-3.

McCann, G and Matenga, C. (Eds.), Issues in Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, (2011). Co-edited book, (University of Zambia) ZAM, Lusaka, pp186. ISBN: 987-0-9553472-10.

McCann, G. and McCloskey, S. (Eds.), From the Local to the Global, (2009). Co-edited book, Pluto Press, London and New York, pp308. ISBN: 978-0-7453-2842-3.

Details of the impact

The contribution of this piece of research had a significant international impact in that it contributed to the discourse in Higher Education and NGOs on the process of globalisation and the study of international development across a global audience — with sales of the initial book in India, Africa, the Australasia, Europe and the USA, followed by translations of and publicity for the revised and updated versions tailored for audiences in Eastern and Southern Europe. The impact, underpinned by excellent research, has been widespread and pervasive in regards to the promotion of the discipline of International Development Studies.

The research has brought the issues pertinent to development onto a broader stage and has given it international recognition. The Centre for Global Education and the Knowledge Makes Change projects came to utilise the publications as the benchmark in the field. This had an impact not only at international university departmental level, but also across the development NGO sector. The outworking of the initiative also led to Gerard McCann being commissioned to work as an adviser on the English language version of the guidelines for members of the Polish Parliament and Senators going into the Polish Presidency of the European Union Council in July 2011. The European Union's Development Cooperation Policy (Polish Language author Pawel Baginski, Global Development Research Group; Warsaw, 2011, ISBN 978-83-929513-8-4, pp.1-218) was circulated to all those working with the Council and European Parliament committees on international cooperation. The contribution also led to a broader exploration of key themes and debates in the field of international development opening up discourse in universities working with the material and the books. In April 2013, at St Mary's, some of the participants collaborated to bring together representatives of the African Diaspora in Ireland and African NGOs to conclude a consensus document on `Peace in Africa' which was presented to the G8 Summit

The impact was multiple. The research made a distinct contribution to impact by helping to bring together diverse interests working in the area of international development and development education. This ensured a praxical linkage between academics working in the central areas of North-South economic, political and social interaction, development practitioners working in the field of development or within development NGOs and political decision makers needing information on key areas relevant to North-South cooperation strategies. This research further helped to generate dialogue.

The series of initiatives also assisted in the enhancement of development studies departments in various countries. In the University of Zambia the English language version was used as a textbook for students of development training going into the career of NGO management. In Trnava University the Slovakian version and the links were utilised to justify the establishment of a distinct Development Studies department. In Warsaw, PAH adapted the research to inform policy makers of the importance of practical intervention in cooperation strategies. In Northern Ireland the original research is used as a textbook on modules in Queen's University Belfast, the University of Ulster and St Mary's University College Belfast. All the lecturers concerned have contributed to the text and work together to develop the themes. The lecture tours, promoting the research in different languages, have covered six countries and sixteen universities in total. These were:

  • St Mary's University College Belfast, UK
  • Limerick University, Republic of Ireland
  • Cork University, Republic of Ireland
  • Warsaw School of Economics, Poland
  • Bratislava Economics University, Slovakia
  • Copernicus University, Poland
  • Torun University, Poland
  • Poznan School of Economics, Poland
  • Trnava University, Slovakia
  • Nitra University, Slovakia
  • University of Banska, Slovakia
  • Comenius University, Slovakia
  • European University, Cyprus
  • Cyprus University, Cyprus
  • Nicosia University, Cyprus
  • University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia

The outworking of the research initiative has been outstanding in terms of the objectives of the original project, which were regional, in that the adaptation and proliferation of the constituent ideas of the project have gone global.

The significance of the research and the difference it has made to the beneficiaries can be seen from

  • The extent to which the research has been picked up and used on a global plane.
  • The way in which it has contributed to and consolidated the discourse around international development studies.
  • The manner in which the research is accepted within the field as of global significance and the research of choice by development studies departments in a number of countries.
  • The way in which issues were profiled in an assertive manner with reference to the interface between academic reflection and development practice — this has informed the study of the issues covered in the initial research.
  • The manner in which the authors and editors were permitted to take on roles as advisors in their respective fields to strategies and policies relevant to international development.
  • The extent to which the discourse implicit to the research has been brought to different audiences on a global plane.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Centre for Global Education Northern Ireland, Director, Stephen McCloskey

Pontis Foundation, Bratislava, Project Coordinator, Michal Cenker

Development Studies Department, University of Zambia, Chrispin M. Matenga.

NGO Support Centre, Cyprus, Project Coordinator, Louiza Hadjivasiliou