Theory, policy and practice perspectives from Royal Holloway

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New UK anti-lobbying rule misses the target in the battle against the dark arts

Lobbying is often seen as a dirty business – a profession of backroom deals that promotes immoral special interests to the greedy. So you might be tempted to cheer a new anti-lobbying rule that is about to come into effect, banning public money from being used for lobbying in the UK. Scotland is also debating slightly more stringent lobbying rules of its own.

Yet not all lobbying is the same, and it is not always dodgy. By tarnishing all lobbying with the same brush we could be in for badly informed public policy.

The rule in question is a new clause that must be inserted into government grant agreements from May. Continue reading


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No Short Cuts to Leaving the Street

Global Youth Work McEveer

Global Youth Work mural. Source: Richard McKeever, via Flickr.

The reasons why children leave home to live on the streets, and subsequently remain living on the street, are numerous and well researched (Thomas de Benitez, 2011). Sometimes these decisions are made for them as their circumstances provide them with a very narrow set of choices. However, there are also children who would say that they have made their own decision to live on the street and that “everyone knows what he is doing.” During my research with street-connected children in Arusha and Moshi in Northern Tanzania, the children interviewed gave numerous yet purposeful reasons for choosing to remain on the street. However, for many of them, the street is not their end goal and few of them have an expressed desire to be a street-connected adult.

Despite desires to leave the street on their own terms at some point, it is not always easy to facilitate children and youth’s move away from the street. The first half of this post will explore some of the ways children and youth in my field study negotiate life on the street and develop future prospects. The second half will present some suggested interventions that may enable children and youth to capitalise on their skills and potential.

Reasons for the street

During six months in northern Tanzania I collected 25 group and individual interviews with 55 street-connected children, former street-connected adults, community members, practitioners and social workers. Based on this research, there are several trends that have emerged from my data. Firstly, many of the children that were interviewed had left home in search of a better life. What children were looking for in order Continue reading

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Learning about Sustainability through Volunteering


MSc Sustainability students 2015-16 with Dr Mike Dolton (MSc Director) and Professor Laura Spence (Director of the RHUL Centre for Research into Sustainability)

All students on the RHUL MSc in Practising Sustainable Development (including the ICT4D stream) and the MSc in Sustainability and Management have to complete a volunteer placement. While students have to do a minimum of 24 hours of volunteering over a 5-month period, many students do far more and some continue after the course has finished.

The aim of the volunteer project module is to allow students to actively engage with an issue of sustainability in practice and to reflect on that involvement. It is assessed through an individual project report reflecting on sustainability issues in the particular organisation, as well as students’ own reflections on their experience. Students also have to produce a poster and give a short presentation.

The volunteer project is one of the most important Continue reading

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What is Progress?

Craig BennettOn February 8th, the Windsor Auditorium was packed with staff, students and guests anticipating an insightful talk by Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth for our Annual Sustainability Lecture. The audience was not disappointed. Craig kicked off his lecture by puzzling the audience with his claim that rather than talking about his environmental campaigning work, he would discuss a much more fundamental question that needs to be answered first: What is progress?

So what is progress? According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is a linear movement towards a set destination or a development towards a more modern society. So which one is correct? Craig’s answer: neither. Rather, he believes that progress should not just create a more modern society but a better one. While this seems very close to the common understanding of sustainable development, Craig opposes this notion as he believes that the idea of sustainable development has not led to the changes in politicians’ engagements we need to achieve a better society. Rather, the continuous debate about the “right” indicators for measuring sustainable development distract from the underlying issue: where do we want to go and what is the right path?

So where to go from here? To move forward, we can learn from the past. Referring to the book A Short History of Progress by Donald Wright, Craig talked about the progress traps that many Continue reading

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Project COBRA highlighted by European Year for Development

Paulette Allicock

Paulette Allicock, Makushi farmer, North Rupununi, Guyana. Source: Project COBRA. Creative Commons Non-Commerical No Derivatives Licence.

As world leaders meet in Paris to decide on a worldwide agreement to tackle climate change at the Climate Summit, COP21 (21st Conference Of the Parties) this week, the European Year for Development is reminding stakeholders of the inextricable link between climate action, sustainable development and poverty eradication. The EU initiative emphasises that climate change can’t be stopped without working with people facing against poverty, who are already the most affected by climate change, in developing as well as in developed countries.

In this context, an EU-funded project that is empowering Indigenous communities in South America by supporting and strengthening local solutions to conserve forests in the Guiana Shield, led by Dr Jay Mistry, Reader in Geography at Royal Holloway, Continue reading

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Why COP21 delegates should pay attention to cities

Professor David Simonlogo-cop-21-carr-_small is currently in Paris participating in events linked to the UN COP21 Climate Conference. In his role as Director of Mistra Urban Futures, he has been contributing to workshops and webinars on the importance of cities in achieving global climate goals. Unlike the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, where cities were ‘almost invisible’, the Paris meeting has highlighted the role of urban areas in the sustainability challenges that the world is facing. Rising living standards in urban areas can lead to increasingly unsustainable lifestyles. However, David also stresses the lessons that can be learned from small and intermediate cities; collaboration across political divides is often easier at a local level, and there are numerous examples of good practice which can be shared between cities, but also scaled up. To see David discussing these issues in a webinar on ‘Cities and Mayors Leading the New Climate Economy’ in the Nordic Pavilion, click here [David’s interview starts about 10.30 mins in].

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The Business of ‘Business Ethics’ and the Ethics of Business

laura spence inauguralWhat is business ethics? An oxymoron? An academic field? Just good business sense? These were exactly the questions posed by Professor Laura Spence at her inaugural lecture on November 24th.

To the packed Windsor auditorium, Laura shared insights on the ‘business of business ethics and the ethics of business’, intertwining her vast research experience with ethical theory. Laura provided a narrative of her career progression within the broad realm of management and through roles at Kingston University, Brunel University, and most recently, Royal Holloway where Laura gained her Chair in 2011. We learned that one core thread connects Laura’s experiences, achievements and passions; nurturing an analytical focus on the ongoing balancing of ethical and unethical behaviour in business life. This, to Laura’s respondent, Professor Mette Morsing from Copenhagen Business School, captures the essence of the ‘Laura Spirit’; curious, persistent, uncorrupted, and committed to Continue reading