Striving for Societal Impact: Reflections from the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program
JCU’s Research for Ethical Development group (hereon ‘JCU RED’) works to promote ethical development research and ethical development practice. Our work is both conceptual and applied. We aim to contribute to scholarly and policy debates regarding the ethics of development work, and to inform practice through our research conduct and collaborations.
We do this through engaged scholarship, applied research, teaching, training and outreach. We work heavily in the Pacific, Northern Australia and across Asia, as well as in other world regions. Our research team is multi-disciplinary and is working within diverse development sectors. We can support our partners through research design and management; field studies; training; impact assessment; coalition building, and partnership brokering.
We seek to promote ethical research in development and to use research to advance ethical development practices.
We aim to do this by expanding knowledge on the ethics of development work, and by engaging in ethical research, practices and partnerships. Power and relationships are central concerns of our work.
Ethical development research is grounded in the principal of respect: for culture, place, peoples, environments. It strives to enhance human and more-than-human wellbeing equitably, respecting the needs of human and non-human entities. Ethical development research is conducted with integrity in order to produce accurate and valid findings, and is enacted through processes that are fair, inclusive and non-discriminatory. Ethical development research is also attentive to new and existing power relations within the research setting (DFAT 2021), as well as the ways that historical power relations influence the contexts in which research is conducted, and the conduct of research itself.
Ethical development research takes the time to understand the circumstances on the ground, engaging with historical events, actors, interests and processes that have shaped such circumstances, and is bottom-up. It facilitates self-determination and is socially and culturally embedded.
Ethical development research is also reflexive. It is dialogical, embraces continual learning, and is critically reflexive about the ethical dilemmas and social inequalities that development itself may foster. As the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) states:
“working ethically requires you to reflect regularly on the ethical questions raised by your work and adopt a culture of dialogue and learning. It requires you to take personal moral responsibility for acting with honesty, integrity and respect for others” (DFID 2019: 3).
In addition to advancing ethical development research, JCU RED also seeks to use research as a means to facilitate ethical development practice. Six priority themes guide our work:
We interrogate the ethics of development research and data management; methodologies to conduct power analysis; research that empowers the disempowered; structural injustice, and; multiscalar politics of development.
Our research examines Indigenous futures; decolonising development; cultural governance; cultural heritage; leadership and localisation.
We investigate gender equity and equality; gender mainstreaming; female empowerment and inclusive leadership; intersectionality; gendered violence; gender, health, disability and social inclusion.
Our research examines ethical development priorities in health and development, including: accessibility; health systems; Indigenous health; mental health; disability-inclusivity; communicable diseases; pandemics, and; malnutrition.
We explore the intersections between ethical development and sustainable development. This includes a focus on: climate change; economic development and livelihoods; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); natural resource management; conservation, and; disaster recovery and resilience.
Our research seeks to strengthen societal governance systems across global, national, regional and local scale to achieve better economic, social, environmental, health and cultural outcomes and to deliver on the promise of SDGs.
The JCU RED team operate in collaborative clusters with research end users located across a wide range of sectors. To hear more about our track record in your sector please email: email@example.com
DFAT, 2021, Ethical Research and Evaluation Guidance Note, https://www.dfat.gov.au/sites/default/files/ethical-research-evaluation-guidance-note.pdf
DFID, 2019, DFID ethical guidance for research, evaluation and monitoring activities, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/838106/DFID-Ethics-Guidance-Oct2019.pdf