Message from the dean of GSID

About GSID’s 30th Anniversary

Greetings from Nagoya!

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Graduate School of International Development (GSID) at Nagoya University. In 1991, GSID was established as the first graduate school in Japan, specializing in international development studies. This was in response to a then growing need in Japan to train professionals with the specialized knowledge and skills that would enable them to contribute to the nation building of developing countries. This was seen to be important especially as Japan grew to be one of the largest ODA (official development assistance) donors. Since then, GSID has strived for excellence in research and teaching in international development studies, by providing multi-disciplinary graduate programs focusing on a wide range of development issues. Since its inception GSID has produced over 2,200 graduates from 96 countries. Many of them work with governments, NGOs, and international organizations, and play leadership roles in promoting socioeconomic development in developing countries.

Over the last thirty years, through research and teaching, GSID has witnessed remarkable economic and social transformations in the developing world. Globalization and the rise of emerging economies in the global economy, digitization and technological advancement (particularly ICT), and expansion of access to social services including health and education, are all areas that have experienced great change. At the same time, we have also observed the persistence of poverty, inequality, and gender gaps, along with worsening environmental degradation, climate change, the widespread occurrence of regional conflicts, terrorism, and violence. The recognition of these lasting and emerging development agendas has led the international community to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets for both developing and developed countries to achieve by 2030. In line with this global effort, in 2018 GSID also restructured its academic programs and reformed its curriculum to reflect the concepts and issues manifested in the SDGs.

However, since early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly affected education, and the lives of people and societies across the world. It has changed our methods of teaching and learning, our ways of working, and our way of life. Restrictions on traveling and movement, particularly beyond national borders, have posed enormous difficulties on all of us. Both faculty and students from universities around the world have found it extremely difficult to conduct research, fieldwork, study abroad and participating in conferences and seminars, and the rapid adoption of an online mode of education and work have proved particularly challenging. New business models have emerged in many sectors to cope with the travel and other restrictions as well.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has also reminded us of the vulnerability of the existing social systems, such as health delivery systems. It has worsened social divides and created greater inequality. It has adversely affected economies in areas such as employment and global value chains. The output of many service sectors such as tourism, retail, and hospitality have also been greatly impacted. The entire world has felt the negative impact of the pandemic; however, it is developing countries that have been especially affected. While we have started to see some light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to recent vaccination drives, it is not yet clear how seriously and how long the negative effects of the pandemic will continue.

Commemorating its 30th anniversary, GSID will organize a series of special events. First, it will run five-day academic conferences online on February 5 through February 9, 2022. About a dozen sessions will be organized covering a wide range of topics such as economic growth, poverty and inequality, education, global health and well-being, social protection in the age of pandemic, African development, gender equality, Afghanistan in crisis, and so on. In addition, GSID will also hold an international symposium on February 10, 2022. This symposium will consider the effects of the pandemic on development research and teaching in the post-Covid 19 era. It will be a good opportunity to consider what lessons we have learned through this process of coping with the pandemic, what development issues and agenda have emerged or resurfaced during the pandemic, and how they affect development research and teaching in the post Covid-19 era, particularly in the Asian context. We will invite keynote speakers who are expected to address these issues. We will also organize panel discussion sessions to discuss what specific roles research institutions like GSID should play in advancing development research and teaching in the post-Covid 19 era in order to promote sustainable development in the global society.

Please join us to celebrate the GSID’s 30th Anniversary and participate in these exciting events! Looking forward to meeting you all in February 2022!

Best wishes,

Aya Okada, Ph.D.
Dean, Graduate School of International Development
Nagoya University