Following an extensive evaluation, the study programme Global Development Studies at NMBU has been accredited by the European Association of Development Research and Training (EADI), which is the leading European development studies network with more than 100 member institutions.
‘There are many developmental study programmes available in Norway, but none of the others have been accredited by EADI. Such a recognition is therefore a great event for all of us – the students and the university as a whole,’ says Jerven, who leads the study programme.
Meets international criteria
In their evaluation, EADI emphasise the fact that the administrative and academic staff are highly qualified.
‘We have low staff turnover, so the personnel involved in the programme are permanent members of staff who also have a highly active research agenda. That means that the programme is research-based and of high quality,’ says Jerven.
The programme's interdisciplinary basis, which comprises disciplines in environmental and social sciences, is one of the programme’s strength.
‘At the same time, we are very pleased that the committee confirms that we have committed students who are critical and analytical, and who enjoy the course,’ says Jerven.
There are three possible outcomes of an evaluation by EADI. The study programme in question may receive no accreditation, partial accreditation and full accreditation. The study programme Global Development Studies achieved full accreditation.
A choice with a stamp of quality
‘Such an accreditation from EADI means that our students, and anyone who may consider applying, can be sure that the programme meets international standards and is of high quality,’ says Shai Divon, associate professor and former head of Noragric. He emphasises that accredited study programmes are noticed in the labour market.
‘Some grants and other funding schemes require the student to take part in an accredited study programme. Development studies is also a field that will not disappear any time soon, and it will continue to be relevant for a long time to come. With EADI’s recognition, we can therefore safely say that we offer a high-quality study programme of relevance for the future,’ he says.
A thorough process
Ten years have passed since the idea of initiating an accreditation process was first put forward by the former leader of Noragric, Ruth Haug. However, it was not until two years ago that the department decided to embark on the extensive process of gathering documentation to show that the study programme meets the international criteria.
When Divon took up the position of head of Noragric in 2018, the discipline faced many changes. The number of applicants to what was then called the master’s degree in Development Studies was dropping, and the number of students that completed the programme was low.
‘At the same time, a discussion was taking place in the development studies community about what is known as decolonising development studies. There was a general wish to leave behind the underlying hierarchy between the global north and the global south, and instead move towards truly global development studies ,’ he says.
From then on, the master’s degree changed its name from Development Studies to Global Developement Studies.
At that time, Divon was the chair of Universities Norway's national expert committee for development studies in , where the heads of all the development studies programmes in Norway participated. During the discussions regarding decolonisation, Divon realised that none of the Norwegian programmes in development studies were accredited. Together with colleagues, he reviewed the criteria for accreditation and realised that the Global Development Studies programme should be more than qualified for such a recognition.
Initially, the department completed a self-evaluation based on the quality criteria established by EADI.
‘This was a demanding process that was mainly carried out by Morten Jerven, Lars Kåre Grimsby, who is currently the acting Head of Department' and Postdoctoral Fellow Cecilie Dyngeland. We also invited the entire department to provide feedback,’ says Divon.
The report was submitted to EADI after the department's self-evaluation. Representatives from EADI, including the head of the accreditation committee, then visited Noragric to talk to the management, staff, present and former students. These people were also invited to discuss the accreditation at a Zoom meeting last autumn.
‘The fact that we were granted full accreditation of this master’s programme is a well deserved recognition of the work we do at the department,’ says Jerven.
Divon also underlines that all the department’s staff have worked hard to create the master’s degree programme as we currently know it.
‘These efforts over the course of many years are the reason why we succeeded in our attempt to gain accreditation of our programme,’ he says. Divon also thanks the Dean Eva Falleth at the Faculty of Landscape and Society for believing in the process and for having supported the project financially.