U of G institutes partner to present interdisciplinary conference
By Anna McMenemy
Development studies once focused on helping countries increase their GDP and economic growth. But over the course of time, development scholars have begun concentrating more on improving a country’s overall health and wellbeing, which has led to collaboration between development and health like never before.
Now, two recently developed institutes at the University of Guelph dedicated to these respective topics are fostering a partnership to develop leaders in these domains.
The Guelph Institute for Development Studies (GIDS) and the One Health Institute (OHI) – both just three years old – have collaborated to plan the One Health and Development for a World Under Pressure Symposium, to take place May 9-11, 2022.
This event will be a global symposium for scholars of various specialities to create and fosters relationships with one another, share their research, and connect with students, researchers, and communities from diverse backgrounds.
A number of topics relevant to development studies and the One Health pillars are being pursued, such as global public health, climate change, food security, and community empowerment.
“The conference is a true joint effort between institutes and is an exciting way to demonstrate our partnership,” says the director of GIDS, political science professor Craig Johnson.
In a broader sense, the two institutes serve to support faculty, staff, and students across colleges and departments who are working on projects within the scope of each institute. Both play a pivotal role in advancing the University of Guelph’s leadership position in these domains.
“There’s a strong shared vision between the two institutes on how to approach complex health and development problems,” says Johnson.
It’s through partnership, collaboration, and projects that are mutually beneficial for researchers and communities. Besides sharing a vision through their research affiliations, they have both developed undergraduate and graduate program opportunities to educate students on it.
The international development undergraduate degree was approved in 2019 and the One Health undergraduate degree received its approval from the university in June of the same year. These degrees will open doors for students interested in tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges and prepare graduates for interdisciplinary careers.
Johnson describes development studies and One Health as very applied fields, where the people and communities involved in studies are at the centre of the research. Development studies is about creating conditions under which people can thrive and social justice is achieved. And matters of health – including human, animal, and environmental health – are central to these efforts. By collaborating, GIDS and the OHI connect professionals across disciplines and broaden the scope of research projects to have an even greater impact.
“When you’re working in individual research silos, you barely scratch the surface of the issue you’re studying,” Johnson says.