Go on! European Joint Doctorate in Law and Development (EDOLAD)

By Ingunn Ikdahl & Morag Goodwin

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In January this year, a European Joint Doctorate in Law and Development (EDOLAD) was launched. EDOLAD is a unique doctoral programme, developed by 6 universities. The 3-year programme aims to make a significant contribution to the need for knowledge-driven development policy-making. It is an outstanding mix of theory and practice, preparing students for careers across the development sector: in international and non-governmental organizations, in governmental bodies, and in academia.

Objectives of the programme

The programme arises from the recognition that the increasing specialisation within Law & Development may lead to blindness to the history of law and development, as well as obscuring the linkages between different fields of law influencing development. It is further based on a concern about the unwillingness of researchers to conduct substantive fieldwork, as well as a wariness of institutions to support it, causing a loss of research skills within law and development.

In order to counter these trends, the programme provides doctoral candidates with a comprehensive core curriculum which enables them to locate their Ph.D. projects within the broader context of law and development. In order to produce dissertations on the role of law in the development context that are based upon locally-identified needs, all projects are required to incorporate extensive fieldwork, and candidates receive multidisciplinary training in methodology to equip them to carry this out. Furthermore, stakeholders outside academia are involved throughout the programme, as mentors for the doctoral candidates, as teachers during the core curriculum, and as partners during field-work.

Structure of the programme

While each doctoral candidate will have two of the partner institutions as their base, they will meet every year. At the start of the first year, candidates will be together for a four-month period of intensive core curriculum courses, covering both methodological and substantive themes. Before fieldwork during the second year of the programme, all candidates will meet again for a “fieldwork training course”. The third year, candidates will meet for a 1-week research seminar where preliminary findings will be presented for staff and stakeholdes. The partner institutions will take turn in hosting these events, but all partners will contribute to teaching every year. Successful candidates will receive a joint doctorate, as well as a certificate of 60ECTS for successful completion of the core curriculum.

The launch conference

The launch conference, arranged at the University of Edinburgh 21-23 January 2015, was titled “Engaging with Law and Development: Perspectives on Land”. The two keynote lectures followed up on the programme’s general approach: Professor Faustin Kalabamu (University of Botswana) gave the audience regional, national and local perspectives on the challenges of addressing land questions through legal measures. Joss Saunders (General Councel, Oxfam International) emphasised the role lawyers may play in development through examples of Oxfam’s efforts to facilitate cooperation between lawyers working pro-bono and other actors, such as NGOs involved in land litigation or developing states participating in complex international negotiations.

Three thematic panels followed, exploring different facets of law and development through the lens of land: “Legal Pluralism: the role of formal and informal justice mechanisms in regulating land”, “The Impact of Gender on Law and Development: Rethinking Paradigms” and “Land, Water & Food Security: Who’s in Control in Law and Development?”. The conference ended by a panel discussion on “Land, development and research: the way forward?”.

In addition to academics and students, participants at the conference included practitioners from f.ex. IIED, ActionAid, Oxfam International, Advocates for International Development, and governmental bodies.

The future

The first group of EDOLAD doctoral candidates has started core curriculum courses this month. Deadlines for the next wave of intake will appear on the EDOLAD website in late Spring 2015, for starting the programme in January 2016.

More information can be found here: www.edolad.eu

The partners

The programme is organized by a consortium with six partners: Tilburg University (the Netherlands), the University of Edinburgh (UK), Deusto University (Spain), Tartu University (Estonia), the University of Oslo (Norway), and North-West University (South Africa).

Morag Goodwin is Professor of Global Law, Tilburg University, and programme director of EDOLAD. Ingunn Ikdahl is associate professor, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo.

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