|Food and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 01, Number 1, 1978 (UNU, 1978, 53 pages)|
|United Nations University programmes|
I General Approach of the Programme
The pressing global problems of human survival, development, and welfare are closely interrelated. Hence, in the analysis of development problems, the HSDP considered it essential to have a clear understanding of the causal relationships among the socio-cultural, economic, and political factors. The major intellectual task of the academic and scientific community is to identify the key determining factors in development problems. The international academic and scientific community is, however, composed of a variety of schools of thought proposing different theories of development, based on their respective disciplinary backgrounds and cultural traditions.
The intellectual challenge posed by development problems can be met only if the different schools of thought belonging to different disciplines and cultural traditions can speak with each other and compare their respective approaches, and this requires the creation of an international, pluralistic, and interdisciplinary forum. This will be achieved through relating, in an organic way, all the research projects and research activities. Each of the projects and activities is composed of research units that base their research on different approaches, or are organized around a particular one, so that a dialogue leading to critical comparison of models can follow (e.g. through the exchange of researchers and pre-publication material, and through joint sub-projects, workshops, and educational activities). The Human and Social Development Programme also serves as a critical forum for the international academic and scientific community by organizing regional or disciplinary seminars, joint projects, and joint activities with UN research institutions and international or regional scientific organizations.
II Research Activites
1. Development Problematique
a. Goals, Processes, and Indicators of Development
Development is defined as the satisfaction of human needs in society. This concept is in itself very general and a major research task will be to understand it better. The human-needs approach has deep implications for the analysis of goals, processes, and indicators of development.
The purpose of the project is to develop new perspectives that will make it possible to deal with the development problems of the various types of societies into which human beings are organized. As a methodological consequence of the above, the project will explore and develop new research methods that can build into the research process the conceptions people themselves have of their needs and their goals for development, and of the processes leading to development. To do this, a dialogical process will be initiated, partly with people in general in selected project areas, and partly with planners and decision makers.
The methodological emphasis of the study is on developing a network of research, involving institutions and individuals in industrialized and developing countries, in order to evolve a joint theory of how best to satisfy human needs.
The project also emphasizes an integrated approach to the research on goals, processes, and indicators of development. Until now, research on goals has been carried out without any analysis of the processes leading toward, or away from, such goals. The analysis of processes, in turn, has been made without any clear conceptualization of the goals and indicators, which are themselves neither tied to goals nor to processes, but are centred on what is quantifiable and easily accessible.
During the first year of research (1977-78), the emphasis has been on the following aspects:
(i) conceptualization and initial theory formation;
(ii) the analysis of the concept of needs;
(iii) the tools of dialogue and network.
The following institutions are participating in this research project: Bu-Ali Sina University, Iran; Bucharest University, Romania; El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico; Dares-Salaam University, Tanzania; Fundación Bariloche, Argentina; Hiroshima University, Japan; Institut d'études du développement, Switzerland; Institute of National Planning, Egypt; Marga Institute, Sri Lanka; Max Planck Institute, Federal Republic of Germany; Mershon Center, U.S.A.; Oslo University, Norway; Ottawa University, Canada; Sussex University, U.K.: Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia; Indian Council of Social Science Research, India,
b. Socio-Cultural Comparative Evaluation of Development Alternatives in a Changing World
The project on the Socio-Cultural Comparative Evaluation of Development Alternatives, complementary to the Goals, Processes, and Indicators of Development Project, started very recently and will focus on the cultural and civilizational dimensions of development. The cultural dimension is essential to the whole discussion of human development, because it is through culture that meaning is given to the economic, social, and political structure of human society. The civilizational dimension, as a broader and deeper cultural framework, is essential in defining how different segments of humanity see their place in the present world.
Through this project, the UN University intends to create a permanent forum for a dialogue among cultures in which no culture is considered superior to others. One specific purpose of this dialogue will be to deepen and broaden the very concept of human and social development, not with a view to arriving at a universal concept, but rather to reach an understanding of the rich diversity of the concept of development. At a concrete research level, this implies that there is no one way of looking at problems of human and social development, but rather that there are many ways. Each cultural group will identify its own problems and try to solve them.
The project will organize international symposia in key cultural areas. The following ten regions have been tentatively identified in order to implement the project: Europe, North America, South America and the Carribean, tropical Africa, Arab Region, West Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. Studies in each region will be undertaken by one or more institutions actively involved in research in social sciences and humanities. Social scientists and humanists, including historians and leaders of religious thought, will participate in this research project. It should also serve as a basis for establishing more direct contact, not only with intellectuals, but also with the people who are the carriers of culture patterns.
a. Sharing of Traditional Technology
In planning this research project, four stages of research leading to the transfer of traditional technology have been considered, These are:
(i) identification of traditional technologies will be done, using the criteria of usefulness as perceived by local communities, and transferability;
(ii) inventory-taking and conceptual analysis of each traditional technology;
(iii) screening, pre-testing, and evaluation for acceptability and utility within the community, and for transferability-to be done by a panel of individuals both within and without the rural community;
(iv) communication and transfer in which selected villages will be the venue for workshops and seminars in which controlled transfer of experiments will be carried out.
As the key objectives of this project are to understand the social and ecological condition of the village and to draw out the response of the villagers, the methodology employed is one in which the field researcher and the villagers will engage in an exchange of knowledge and information. For this to materialize, all the field researchers are to be domiciled, as far as possible, in the selected villages for long periods. Wherever necessary, especially for the collection of socioeconomic data, the questionnaire method will also be used.
The following institutions are participating in this research project: Dian Desa Institute, Indonesia; Bu-Ali Sina University, Iran; Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia; Development Research and Consulting Group, Nepal; Development Academy of the Philippines, Philippines; Marga Institute, Sri Lanka; Thai Khadi Research Institute, Thailand.
b. Research and Development Systems in Rural Settings
The objective of this research project is to contribute elements to the design of an alternative strategy for generating technologies in developing countries. The project will develop a new methodology of technological research, thereby effectively connecting the R & D systems of the developing countries with their own societies. With the body of empirical knowledge they possess, technologies appropriate to their specific needs could be generated.
The methodology of the project consists of monitoring the progress of groups conducting research on problems of special relevance to the countries involved.
The monitoring will be particularly concerned with the following:
(i) links between the research and development units involved with the local milieu; efficacy of those links in generating technologies;
(ii) effects of the connexions with the rural setting on the research and development systems; the in corporation of local knowledge; the generation of flow of research;
(iii) acceptability and dissemination of the generated technologies.
A pilot project has begun in six rural villages in Mexico. The field research was conducted by the Maya Institute, and the conclusion of this was that when a problem of rural development is viewed as a purely technological problem, there is extreme danger of both misunderstanding the true nature of the problem, and of developing "solutions" that are not applicable. On the contrary, when any such problem is viewed as a technological "aspect" of a "specific socioeconomic problem", then the conditions requiring solution become clearer; also, alternative solutions may come into the picture that permit working around problems that may otherwise seem insoluble.
This research project is being co-ordinated through the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Mexico and implemented through field research supervised by the following institutions: Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission, Ethiopia; Bu-Ali Sina University, Iran; Economic Development Foundation, Philippines; Maya A.C., Mexico.
c. Technology Transfer, Transformation and Development: The Japanese Experience
The main purpose of this research project is the study of the interrelationship between endogenous and foreign technology. The project will consider all different cases where:
(i) imported modern technology has replaced traditional or endogenous technology (e.g., iron, steel, railway transport, etc.);
(ii) imported modern technology has coexisted with traditional or endogenous technology (e.g., mining industry);
(iii) imported modern technology has failed to replace traditional or endogenous technology (e.g., tractor farming);
(iv) imported modern technology has been integrated with traditional or endogenous technology (e.g., irrigation).
The project is being co-ordinated by the Institute of Developing Economies, Tokyo, Japan. The research activities started in June 1978 A network of universities and research centres in Japan will participate in this project. d. Transfer of Technology Among Developing Countries
The Human and Social Development Programme is planning to launch a new research project in the area of Technology Transfer among Developing Countries. This project will be jointly implemented by the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO) and the Council for the Development of Economic and Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA).
II Educational Activities
During the first phase of the programme development, the emphasis was put on the design of research activities. During the second year, the programme has started to develop an Education Programme on problems of development, to attempt to integrate not only the research activities in the programme, but also the other programmes of the UN University. Educational activities in subjects that straddle two, or all three, of the programme areas of the University will be especially useful in integrating the University's work and suggesting new lines of research.