Wetenschap - 18 januari 2001

IAC course participants are here to give meaning to concepts

IAC course participants are here to give meaning to concepts

Adaptive management, social learning, participatory development. These are the buzzwords of development practice. But what is their real meaning behind their obligatory presence in project proposals?

The keynote address at the opening of three new courses at the International Agricultural Centre (IAC) on January 15 was given by Irene Guijt MSc who has experience in several developing countries. Her talk was on the value of concepts used in development practice. The lecture theatre was filled with about 50 course participants from all over the world, all senior practitioners coming to Wageningen for a period of further training.

Artists, not photocopiers

"These concepts we all know so well are expressions of general concern," Guijt told her audience. Guijt commented that a concept such as 'participation' is not just a life jacket you can cling to in the hope that it guarantees success. She likened these concepts to balloons which need filling with air, which in this case is the experience of the participants. To do this requires critical reflexion on the use of concepts in practice, the courage to transform and a learning attitude which requires the openness of a beginner's mind. "You are all artists, not photocopiers," she told the course participants. The concepts Guijt discussed play a central role in all three courses, 'Food and nutrition', 'Fisheries management' and 'Gender, organisational change, agriculture and leadership'.

Merger

At the end of this month the IAC and the International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement (ILRI) will sign a statement of intent that they will merge with their big brother Wageningen University and Research Centre. In fact, IAC has worked closely with departments of Wageningen UR over the last years. IAC is organising a congress that will take place in June to celebrate the merger.

Joris Tielens

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