Advancing a southern voice in the global development discourse

January 20, 2014 by

BRAC University Student

The BRAC Institute of Governance and Democracy (BIGD) at BRAC University is a resource center that promotes research, provides graduate training and builds knowledge to address the challenges of poverty, inequity and social injustice in the global south. BIGD takes an inclusive, multidisciplinary approach to fulfill its mandate to constantly challenge conventional knowledge and advance a southern voice in the global development discourse.

Established in 2008, BIGD leverages the successful and scaled-up development interventions, initiated by BRAC and many others, in immunization, oral rehydration therapy, family planning, health awareness, legal aid, non-formal primary schooling, and microfinance. Much of the expertise and knowledge gained in these areas is not disseminated into global development discourse due to the lack of an integrated platform. The Institute is addressing this challenge by acting as a center of collaboration for researchers, academics, practitioners, development organizations, policy makers and donor agencies. Through the Institute, the extensive knowledge and research is synthesized and circulated both nationally and globally.

Over the last five years, the Institute has conducted national and international multidisciplinary partner research projects and produced dozens of critical case statements organized in five interrelated themes:

  • Economic Transformation focuses on the dynamics of graduating out of ultra poverty by analyzing market creation, social safety net models and financial services for the poor.
  • Women’s Empowerment investigates the factors that affect women’s everyday lives and the pathways for transforming power relations and structures to be more gender equitable.
  • Democracy and Governance explores how and where citizens’ participation and government reforms can make a difference in the question of pro-poor development and social justice.
  • Environment and Change focuses on the socio economic impact of natural disasters and climate change on vulnerable communities as well as their coping strategies based on indigenous knowledge.
  • History, Politics and Development furthers the understanding of who we are and how we fit into the globalized world studying the roots of our secular culture and our history of struggle for freedom and economic emancipation.

The in-depth analyses produced by BIGD’s faculty and student body provide the development community with a holistic understanding of poverty and marginalization as well as the challenges faced when designing and implementing interventions. The knowledge gained is echoed throughout BRAC’s work and helps to keep BRAC University and BRAC responsive and effective in an ever-changing development environment.