Journal Article

IDS Bulletin 37.4

Should Development Studies Be Taught in Britain?

Published on 1 October 2006

The question of the title provoked in me a response so strongly affirmative, that it seemed astonishing it was posed at all. Since all the institutions represented at the conference which was the origin of this IDS Bulletin actually do teach development studies in Britain, probably this reaction was not unique, although to be sure, many of us may have been pricked by doubt from time to time. But perhaps our reactions need to be examined. What is the point of departure?

I take it as an axiom (in the sense of a principle of intrinsic merit and not in the sense of a self-evident proposition), that I have a duty to love my neighbours, which requires me at the least to wish their good. If I want or feel obliged to come under pressure to go beyond that minimum and actually do something to promote their good, then, again at the least, I have a duty to ascertain what their good actually is.

That duty predicates a right to investigate the matter, do some research on it, in order to avoid mistaking it. For simple instance, if a neighbour is in a poverty trap and I wish to participate in his liberation, I must at least ascertain how the trap can be sprung without damaging him further. The absurdities of ignorant charity have long been the butt of academics and cynics alike.

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IDS Bulletin 37.4

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Oxenham, J. (2006) Should Development Studies Be Taught in Britain?. IDS Bulletin 37(4): 28-32

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John Oxenham

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Oxenham, John
IDS Bulletin, volume 3


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