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Developmental policy from a different viewpoint

Jacobs University analyzes rural perspectives on international development cooperation

Rural Development project
Each year $120-billion of public funding, including German funds, are invested in projects aimed at fostering cooperation in development. Poverty is ever-present and developmental progress in targeted countries often fails to meet the expectations of the international community. One reason might be that rural regions and local communities are not incorporated into the planning process, even though they are the intended recipients of such endeavors. Prof. Dr. Corinna Unger of Jacobs University and Prof. Dr. Marc Frey of the Bundeswehr University Munich, together with an interdisciplinary team, strive to better understand the complex relationships between the participating partners in such cooperative initiatives in international development. A preliminary workshop was hosted in Bremen to launch this project, which has received a total of €540,700 from the Volkswagen Foundation over the next three years. As an independent private research institution, the Volkswagen Foundation supports young and innovative areas of research with global relevance.
July 2, 2015
Developmental cooperation focuses heavily on industrialization and urbanization. Topics related to agriculture and rural populations are often overlooked in everyday practice and in studies by international organizations and scientific institutions. This is astonishing, given that people living in rural areas are directly impacted by developmental policies and actions – they can benefit from them, but they must also adhere to and support them. 
The international team comprised of historians, cultural scientists and social scientists working with Drs. Unger and Frey plan to explore the history of developmental policies from a new angle, to gain a better understanding of international cooperation in the context of development projects. What is novel in their approach is the relevance given to rural communities, which will equal that of the international partners in politics and business involved.
“This approach enables us to gather and take into account valuable, everyday impressions, experiences and perspectives directly in the field where the projects are being implemented, and not simply analyzing centralized governmental structures and concerns of the major international partners,” says Dr. Unger, Professor of Modern European History. “We want to make a contribution to increase the impact of international development cooperation.”
The Volkswagen Foundation is the largest private funding agency in Germany – more than 30,000 projects totaling €4.2-billion have been funded since 1962. Each year, €150-million is directed towards scientific institutions, with the goal of supporting scientific and technological research, as well as globally-driven and forward-thinking educational initiatives. 
This new research project focuses on the interplay between varying social groups involved in processes of developmental policy making. In particular, the communication and mutual perception between international political and economic parties, such as the World Bank, on the one hand, and local communities, with their the personal experiences and everyday knowledge within the field, on the other hand, will be examined.
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For questions, please contact:
Prof. Dr. Corinna Unger | Professorin für Moderne Europäische Geschichte
c.unger [at] | Tel.: +49 421 200-3371