JCU RED is Founded

    JCU’s Research for Ethical Development group – JCU RED – was established in late 2021 to promote ethical development research and ethical development practice. The work of the JCU RED group is both conceptual and applied, aiming to contribute to scholarly and policy debates regarding the ethics of development work, as well as to inform practice through research partnerships. The group is multi-disciplinary and works across a wide range of development settings and sectors.
    JCU RED is also fast growing, with 46 current members. If you are interested in joining the RED team contact founder and chair; Dr Kearrin Sims or co-Chair Claire Holland.

    Inaugural Symposium
    JCU RED will host its inaugural research symposium on 13-14 July 2022, at the Cairns Institute. The symposium’s primary aim is to bring together existing RED members to foster new research collaborations. The two-day event will include team or individual research presentations, ‘free chat’ time during coffee and lunch breaks, and a closing strategic roundtable. The call for external papers theme was: Beyond bullshit as usual: Re-centering power and politics in the SDGs. Dr Sims has been received an overwhelming response to researchers wanting to share their work and advised that the program is comprehensive.

    The need to move ‘beyond business as usual’ has become a catchcry for increasing private sector contributions to the SDGs.  This phrase reflects a broader trend towards privatization in global development that includes: a redirection of aid funding away from not-for-profit civil society and towards for-profit aid contractors; a return to economic growth as the principal objective of aid; and an enduring faith in using technofixes to address complex social challenges. Proponents of increased privatization assert that the private sector has specific strengths for advancing the SDGs, including innovation, responsiveness, and efficiency. While the private sector does have an important role to play in responding to poverty and other development challenges, technocratic and depoliticised interventions often ignore and perpetuate root structural causes of inequality and disadvantage.

    Harry Frankfurt’s (2005) engaging essay On Bullshit begins with the sentence ‘One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.’ Yet, as Frankfurt continues, ‘we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what function it serves.’ This symposium brings an analysis of bullshit into arenas of development, including but extending beyond the SDGs. We welcome papers that expose and critique public relations stunts and unfulfilled pledges, toothless commitments and harmful state subsidies, tokenistic inclusivity efforts, unethical business practices, and strategies of deflection, misinformation, and the pursuit of personal gain in the name of public good.

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