Universities mobilized for human development

The International Secretariat for Human Development based at York University has received an award of US$225,000 from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for a project entitled Universitas Network: International University Partnerships for Local Human Development and Poverty Reduction. The secretariat has been working with UNDP’s Anti-Poverty Partnership Initiatives Program (APPI) since 2002. The project will create a series of opportunities for research and training related to human development by mobilizing a network of university partners committed to local human development. 

“In 2002, UNDP’s Anti-Poverty Partnership Initiatives asked us to host an international workshop at York, which we hosted in collaboration with CERLAC,” said Ananya Mukherjee Reed (right), professor of political science and the director of the International Secretariat of Human Development. “This project is really a culmination of the work we have been doing since then, and other similar projects on which we have been collaborating with other UN organizations.”

The award will support new training initiatives for individuals who are involved in development-related policy-making, in particular those who are involved in human development programs supported by APPI. It will also support the dissemination of innovative concepts, methods and experiences related to human development and international cooperation. Activities will include curriculum development, action research, electronic and non-electronic publications, and workshops involving academics, practitioners and policy-makers.

“It will involve a number of York faculty and graduate students,” said Mukherjee Reed. “There are several different aspects in this project that York faculty are leading. Political science Professor Greg Albo, a member of the secretariat’s executive, is organizing a workshop of York faculty and graduate students in possible collaboration with CERLAC on trade unions in developing countries.

“Professor Darryl Reed, chair of the Division of Social Science, and Professor Fahimul Quadir, coordinator of the International Development Studies Program, are collaborating with the Centre for International Research and Cooperation in Local Economies (CIRCLE) located at the University of Naples, Italy, on a project on local development,” said Mukherjee Reed. “We have also recently initiated discussions with the Faculty of Administration at the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, for possible collaboration on local development initiatives in Tunisia. There is also a possibility that we may collaborate on developing a French language version of our specialized information gateway on human development known as HDRNET.”

The initiative, according to Mukherjee Reed, will also support doctoral students located in a number of southern hemisphere countries as well as students at York. “The role of graduate students is critical in this regard as they are the future policy-makers,” said Mukerjee Reed.

“We are indeed extremely pleased with the award. The secretariat’s mandate is to produce new forms of knowledge for human development by bringing together practitioners, local communities, academics and policy-makers. This project provides us with a great opportunity to further those goals,” said Mukherjee Reed.

York University will collaborate with a number of partners including: National Autonomous University of Honduras (Post-grado Latino-Americano en Trabajo Social); the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua at Leòn; the National University of Guatemala “San Carlos” (Post-grado Latino-Americano en Trabajo Social); the University of Naples “Federico II” (Centre for International Research and Cooperation in Local Economies), Italy; and the University of Florence, Italy.

Visit the International Secretariat for Human Development Web site for more information on the secretariat and the award.