How can development academics help change the world?

Most of the academics at the Global Development Institute (GDI) entered the profession with a desire to make a positive contribution to the lives of people who are financially insecure and marginalised.

The desire to create positive change and ‘impact’ is almost a given – but given the multiple demands placed on academics, how can we best enable people to make a difference? Indeed, is there a trade-off between the shorter term impact agenda that research funders increasingly demand, and the longer term, but potentially more transformative types of change?

To grapple with these questions and others, the GDI convened a workshop bringing together NGO activists, think tank researchers and academics from the global North and South. They may not have produced all the answers, but they did produce a set of reflections with practical suggestions on ways forward.