Tag: research

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The North-South divide – inequalities in knowledge production and exchange 

Bookshelf, books, knowledge

This year’s Global Partnership Network (GPN) conference took place at the University of Kassel, Germany, between 4 and 7 October. The GPN is a collaboration of higher education institutions and civil society groups for research, teaching and workshops around SDG 17: “Global Partnership for Sustainable Development”. The network draws attention to the shortcomings, limitations and problematic aspects of international partnerships that have historically been shaped by, or still reflect, colonial relations between North and South. 

Henning Melber, Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies/School for Advanced Study, University of London, Associate at the Nordic Africa Institute and member of the SweDev steering committee, gave a keynote speech at the GPN conference, reflecting on his previous work in development and African studies.

Global Asymmetric Power Relations

In his speech, Henning claimed that knowledge is never neutral or value-free. He is convinced that knowledge always has a historical and political character and is dependent on its user’s interests and goals. For that reason, we “cannot uncritically affirm and praise knowledge production (and its dissemination) as a relevant aspect of and contribution to development without examining the nature and intention of both, the knowledge created and applied as well as the concept and meaning of development”, he argued. 

Henning stated that global asymmetric power relations include knowledge. Since “knowledge is power”, the production and possession of knowledge lead to structural dominance. The inequalities in socio-economic global development resemble the knowledge economy with the scientific dependency of the global South.

“True decolonization should have a critical understanding of the underlying assumptions, motivations and values that inform research practices.”

Henning Melber, member of the SweDev steering committee
Photo: Henning Melber / Twitter

Inequalities in the production and exchange of knowledge

Nowadays, international collaborations with diverse stakeholders in research projects are supported, however, Henning noted that the extent to which western frameworks are seen as universal, and operations are embedded in a northern environment, is often not critically reflected upon. In research partnerships, unequal power relations can result from unequal access to funding, knowledge and expert networks. There are, nevertheless, opportunities for researchers to counteract and overcome structural constraints to form equal partnerships, said Henning. 

For equal partnerships, the accumulated knowledge should be accessible to all partners and its benefits should be equally distributed, Henning stressed. However, it appears challenging in reality, as scholars are more often rewarded for the impact factor of publications, rather than practical or even political relevance, leaving North-South cooperation all too often in the hands of partners from the North.

Keynote summarised by Roksana Rotter, Communication and Research Intern. Edited by Alice Tunfjord, Associate within SweDev at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

Assistant researcher to the Department of Political Science

Business & Work

This job opportunity is posted by University of Gothenburg.

The Department of Political Science invites applications for an associate researcher to work with the Governance and Local Development Institute (GLD). GLD aims to explain variation in governance and local development in an effort to promote human welfare globally.


15 November 2022.

Main responsibilities

As an associate researcher, you are expected to:

  • Support the institute director and other researchers with literature reviews, background summaries, fact checking, and other research support
  • Assist in drafting research papers and fact checking
  • Assist in intern training, recruitment, and management as required
  • Assist in working paper, short-term grant, and other reviews
  • Assist with fundraising, including searching for new funding opportunities and drafting proposals
  • Organize policy roundtables, including finding participants, arranging chairs and discussants, organizing times and locations, and similar events as needed
  • Support other team members with research and administrative tasks as needed.

The work tasks will vary by proportion and content.


The employment is limited (temporary) for 11 months, 100% of full-time and is currently placed at the Department of Political Science.
Starting date: as soon as possible or as agreed.

About the Department of Political Science

The Department of Political Science is an open and socially engaged institution, in the middle of the city and in the middle of the debate. Our research revolves around elections, democracy, corruption, forms of government, globalization, the environment and politics, as well as European issues. The department hosts research programs such as the Center for Collective Action Research (CeCAR), the QoG Institute, Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem), the Governance and Local Development Institute (GLD) and the Swedish Electoral Research Program. We have education at all levels, undergraduate advanced level and postgraduate level, as well as independent courses. Teaching is given in both Swedish and English. In total, about 1,400 people study with us. The Department of Political Science has around 160 employees.

Child mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo Flag

Worldwide, child mortality has fallen by more than half since 1990, however, five million children still die before their fifth birthday every year. In some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the mortality rate is particularly high: an estimated quarter of a million children die there annually.

Eight researchers have recently published an article on this topic. In this study, they looked at how the difference in mortality is related to coverage of life-saving interventions and how coverage and mortality are associated with conflict. The article has been summarised by Miriam Mosesson in Global Bar Magazine.

Why do children die?

“The first month of life is the most dangerous time where almost half of the deaths before five years of age are happening. Pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria are the three major killers after the first month accounting for about half of the deaths in this age group.”

“In the DRC, approximately 7%s of children die before their fifth birthday. However, behind this number lies considerable differences between the 26 provinces of the country (…). In our study, we compared the coverage of 23 indicators, necessary to end preventable deaths in children, between the DRCs 26 provinces (…). The indicators ranged from exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life to having access to soap and water to wash your hands, being vaccinated, and having access to correct care when falling ill from diarrhoea (…). We found that these indicators varied substantially between the provinces.”

Important conclusions of the study

“This study has first and foremost showed that your chances of having access to life saving interventions vary depending on where in the DRC you are born. Second, children in conflict-affected provinces of the country do not seem to be the most neglected; rather, children that live in the poorest provinces without infrastructure lack access to life-saving interventions. Children in conflict areas should continue to get a lot of attention, but at the same time, it is essential to ensure that children living outside these areas are not left behind. We need to work in all settings in sustainable ways to stop children from dying for reasons we can prevent.”

This article was first published by Miriam Mosesson in Global Bar Magazine.

University lecturer in Human Ecology at University of Gothenburg

lecture, people watching

This job opportunity is posted by University of Gothenburg.

The School of Global Studies (SGS) is searching for one or more lecturers in Human Ecology with a social and environmental science orientation to study the interactions between human societies and their natural environment. Central issues within human ecology include how humans affect and use their environment and how local and global ecosystems set boundaries for human activity.


25 November 2022.

Main responsibilities

The position consists primarily of teaching and research. A university lecturer will teach (lecture, guide seminars and group work), serve as course coordinator, supervise, and examine at different academic levels. Work tasks also include course and program development assignments, administration related to teaching, and participation in the department’s pedagogical development work. Contributions to a planned new BSc degree in sustainable development, societal change and climate adaptation are also included in the applicant’s work tasks. The position requires teaching in Swedish.


It is a full-time permanent position, at School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg. The starting date is the first July 2023 or per agreement.

About the School of Global Studies

The School of Global Studies (SGS) is an innovative university environment for research and education on globalization and global issues. We seek applicants who wish to work in a dynamic, international and interdisciplinary setting. The department’s educational and research activities include the following subjects: Environmental Social Science, Global Studies, Global Development Studies, Global Gender Studies, Human Ecology, Human Rights, International Relations, Peace and Development Studies, and Social Anthropology.

Postdoctoral researcher in social aspects of carbon sequestration in coastal areas

leptop, meeting, working

Södertörn University has a vacancy for a postdoctoral researcher in social aspects of carbon sequestration in coastal areas.

This post-doctoral research fellowship is funded by the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies and is located within the CLIM-SCAPE project: Climate change mitigation capacity of the Baltic coastal seascape: identification of hotspot environments for coastal blue carbon sequestration and guidance for sustainable management of the Baltic coastal landscapes under global change. The postdoc will focus on understanding political, social and socio-ecological aspects of multiple coastal habitats’ carbon sink functions across the land-sea continuum.


15 November 2022.

Main responsibilities 

The responsibilities of a postdoctoral research fellow include research, the development of research activities and participation in the academic community through assignments as reviewer, external expert and lecturer. Administrative tasks could arise such as organisation of seminars, workshops and conferences as well as planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of transdisciplinary research projects. In addition, the duties could include some teaching, but not more than 20% of the total employment. Teaching is conducted in Swedish and English.


This is a full-time position, fixed-term for 2 years or for the period from January 2023 to December 2024. Start date by agreement.

About Södertörn University

Södertörns högskola (Södertörn University) in south Stockholm is a dynamic institute of higher education with a unique profile and high academic standard. A large proportion of the university staff holds doctorates and there is a strong link between undergraduate education and research. Södertörn University has around 13 000 students and 840 employees. Undergraduate and postgraduate education and research are conducted in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Technology and Education.

Submit a speed-talk to the Focali annual meeting

The main day of the Focali annual meeting 1st of December will include talk-sessions that provide an opportunity for you to share your research and work that could be of interest to the Focali network and wider community of partners and friends that we encourage to participate. The overall theme for the annual meeting is “research for impact in policy and practice – how to translate science into policy and practice that can make a difference for nature and people?”

This is the first in-person annual meeting since the memorable Focali 10-year anniversary meeting held 2019. After many online meetings we now encourage in-person participation for this annual meeting to keep up the vibrant discussions across disciplines and sectors on interlinked challenges, for networking and not the least to have fun together during the day, dinner, and optional workshops the day after the main conference day. In this call for talks in-person presentations will thus be prioritized while we still provide space for talks from partners and friends within our global networks that would not be able to attend in-person.

Below and via the questions in the call you can see what we are looking for.

Timeline for submission and selection

  • Deadline to submit talk, November 1st
  • Process of selection by the planning team
  • Notification to selected speakers, November 9th
  • Deadline for sharing final title for program, November 16th
  • Deadline for sharing final PPT if any, November 28th
  • Focali annual meeting main day, December 1st

Requirements on speed-talks

  • Maximum 5-6 min long and no more than 5 PPT slides or photos.
  • The presentations should be of relevance to the Focali focus area on linked issues such as forests, land use, climate, biodiversity, food systems and related global governance, livelihood, development and rights issues.
  • The presentations should primarily focus on the global south/ tropical forest regions and/or global connectivity/policy within our thematic area (Focali geographical focus).
  • The speed-talks should be easy to follow for people outside your academic discipline or sector so keep this in mind when you prepare your talk, key messages and PPT slides.

How to submit

Submit your speed-talk through the link below, including:

  • Talk title
  • Your name
  • Your affiliation
  • Few sentence mini-abstract (max 150 words)
  • Geographic area of relevance (if applicable)
  • In addition to this information you are kindly asked to indicate what kind of presentation it will be, what themes it is linked to and if you would like to present in person or via zoom via the options in the form.

Why are some countries rich while others remain poor? 

Göran Holmqvist, Director at the Department for Asia, Middle East and Humanitarian Assistance at Sida, reviews Stefan Dercon’s “Gambling on Development Why Some Countries Win and Others Lose,” a potential bestseller among the classic books on development economics. This is the English summary of the original review published in the Swedish journal Ekonomisk Debatt 6/2022 (årgång 50).

Countries should invest in growth-oriented development 

In his book, Stefan Dercon, Professor at Oxford University and former Chief Economist of the British development aid agency, answers the question of why some countries win and others lose in development. His main thesis is that the countries’ elite must put aside their short-term, conflicting interests and instead “invest” in growth-oriented development (gambling on development). According to Holmqvist, Dercon nevertheless seems to ignore the role of civil society and other actors in the institution building process by acting as a counterforce to elite dominance. 

Dercon rejects the idea that a particular policy prescription is the success factor for countries. The differences in areas such as the degree of state involvement, governance, transparency, openness to the outside world and natural resource management are too great. However, common characteristics of successful countries are that states can act with credibility, adapt their roles to their capabilities and being able correct the course when initiatives fail.

What about development aid? 

Holmqvist writes that Dercon advocates an aid strategy à la Warren Buffet, the super-investor who invests in good management in businesses with long-term stability, rather than spectacular and short-term, growth potential. This means investing in countries with an emerging elite bargain on development, which in the past decade have been countries like Rwanda, Ethiopia (at least until recently), Bangladesh and perhaps Ghana. Despite the corruption and political oppression you may find in these countries, donors should not be over-alarmed but rather focus on long-term economic and social progress.  

Aid is also needed in countries that fail to get ahead, countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Malawi, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Afghanistan, where elites have acted according to short-term interests and the state has degenerated into an instrument of self-enrichment. In these countries, humanitarian needs are often the greatest. However, expectations on results should be low, and the approach should be cautious in order to facilitate future pro-development arrangements between elites. 

Dercon’s recommendations fit rather poorly with the orientation of Swedish aid, Holmqvist argues. Swedish aid have a strong focus on fragile countries with weak institutions and it has often demonstrated a high degree of sensitivity to even temporary, democratic setbacks when it comes to state-to-state assistance.

Civil society, citizens and counterforces to an elite-dominated state feature conspicuously little in Dercon’s country analyses and recommendations, although the implications it has for the more informed political economy analysis Dercon calls for. In this aspect Dercon is clearly at odds with another institutionally oriented economist – Daron Acemoglu (author of Why Nations Fail and of The Narrow Corridor) – whose analysis point at the crucial role such counterforces have in the shaping of development friendly institutions.  

SweDev hosted a dialogue with Dercon on 8 June this year. He held a keynote and presented main findings from his book and gave further insights.

News translation by Roksana Rotter, SweDev. Edited by Göran Holmqvist, Director at the Department for Asia, Middle East and Humanitarian Assistance at Sida and Ylva Rylander, Communications Officer for SweDev at SEI.

Doctoral student in forest management at SLU

writing, pen, paper

This job opportunity is posted by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The Department of Forest Resource Management is looking for a doctoral student in forest management with a focus on global forest resources.


10 October 2022.

Main responsibilities 

The task for the doctoral student involves studying the development of the global forest resources with the support of modern inventory techniques that combine different types of remote sensing with field inventory. The studies will shed light on the developments of forests in different parts of the world, making comparisons with the developments in Sweden and Europe, and analyse similarities and differences between regions from different perspectives, including the contribution of forests to mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration. An important part of the work involves contributing to the development of quality-assured methods for large-area forest monitoring.


The position involves a 4 year full-time employment as a doctoral student in Umeå, Sweden. The start date is by agreement, tentatively in late autumn 2022 or early spring 2023.

Department of Forest Resource Management

The Department of Forest Resource Management conducts education and research in the areas of forest planning, forest remote sensing, forest inventory and sampling, forest mathematical statistics, and landscape studies. The department is also responsible for the implementation of environmental monitoring programs: the National Forest Inventory, the National Forest Damage Inventory, National inventories of the landscape in Sweden, Terrestrial habitat monitoring, and the Butterfly and bumblebee inventory. The activities combine research and environmental monitoring in cross-disciplinary projects, which provide unique opportunities to develop holistic concepts for the sustainable use of natural resources.

Postdoctor in Political Science at Lund University


This job opportunity is posted by Lund University.

The Department of Political Science announces one vacant position as a 2-year postdoctoral fellow with an orientation towards global governance, multi-stakeholder partnerships and sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda. The postdocoral position will be part of a 4-year research program Transformative partnerships for sustainable development: Assessing synergies, effectiveness and legitimacy of UN multi-stakeholder across SDGs to achieve the 2030 Agenda, funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas). A postdoctoral fellowship within the same research program is also vacant at the Department of Political Science at Stockholm University.


1 October 2022.

Main responsibilities 

The main responsibility for the postdoctoral fellow is to conduct research within the research program in collaboration with other projects participants. Research tasks will involve data collection of various kinds, data analysis, interviews, and dissemination of results through publications in scholarly journals and conferences presentations as well as certain project coordination and reporting. Research should concern multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development/the 2030 Agenda with a focus on questions related to legitimacy, accountability, and meta-governance. The position consists in 80 percent research and 20 percent administrative tasks and/or teaching. 


The position involves at least two year full-time employment, with the possibility of extension under special circumstances according to the Swedish national agreement Avtal om tidsbegränsad anställning som postdoktor. The starting date is at the earliest in November 2022 or as per agreement.

About the Department of Political Science

The Department of Political Science at Lund University combines ancient traditions with modern research and education. The department safeguards disciplinary breadth and diversity and has long been successful in competition for external research funding. Key research fields include democracy and democratisation, power and administration, diplomacy, peace and conflict, intelligence analysis, political psychology, gender, environmental policy and welfare. The strong research profile of the Department of Political Science is reflected in its teaching. The educational environment has long been strongly international.