About the author
Inge Hutter, rector of the International Institute of Social Studies
Welcome to BLISS, the blog of the ISS on Global Development and Social Justice linking local communities to global action. The blog is launched on 12 October 2017, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the International Institute of Social Studies.
To celebrate this respectable age, several events have been organized this week at ISS. On Monday 9 October, Han ter Horst, sketched the establishment of NUFFIC and ISS in 1952, as twin institutions for higher education. In order to know where we are at present, and where we want to go in the future, it is important to realize where we come from and to be aware of our roots. Ter Horst pictured the atmosphere in The Netherlands in the early 1950s. The disillusions after the Second World War and decolonization of Indonesia, but also the optimism in rebuilding the Netherlands and the dream of a future where everyone –also those from the lower classes- would be able to improve their circumstances.
The ISS was founded by Dutch government and Dutch universities in 1952. Queen Juliana even mentioned the establishment of the International Institute of Social Studies in her famous speech at the United Nations. ISS thus started as a post-colonial initiative, in the first instance as a training institute for administrators from the former Dutch colony, Indonesia. Later, government officers from other then-so-called developing countries also came to ISS. From there, the MA in Development Studies developed. In the past 65 years, more than 13,000 students from all over the world have received a degree from ISS.
Since the turn of this century, the Institute has developed a stronger ambition towards academic excellence. In 2009, it became a part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and a consistent effort was made to raise the academic status of the institute. Today, we are proud that our academic output matches the benchmark of Europe’s top-ranking institutes of development studies. At the same time, ISS has retained its critical engagement. We engage in the current dynamics of global development and social justice through education, research and action. Much of our research puts the spotlight on people and communities that are marginalized by oppressive and exclusive forms of development.
The parameters of development have radically changed in the lifetime of ISS. Social media and digital developments have turned the world into a global space that is interconnected at all levels and where news travels extremely fast. The scope of research is no longer exclusively focused on the South, but concerns developments, inequalities and social justice in a global way, thus also in the global North.
Global challenges in relation to climate change, precariousness, migration and food security – to mention a few – are too complex to address in one piece of research, but our research findings can shed light on some aspects and contribute to discussing the bigger pictures. However, one of the drawbacks we face as researchers is that our output usually comes after a prolonged period of time, whereas developments in the ‘real’ world continue to happen at a fast pace. Often, research findings that could speak to those developments are not shared at all or in time, and thus fail to contribute to news-making, debates or policies, let alone have the potential to drive processes towards more inclusive, sustainable and just development.
At 65 years, therefore, ISS is proud to launch its blog. The blog series aims to provide a space where research ideas and findings are brought to the development community in a timely way. With the blog, ISS will address different audiences in policy, practice and the public at large. The blogs are grounded in ongoing research and speak to broader implications for current development trends and issues. Most importantly, the blogs will continue to uphold the best of ISS traditions: to (re)present the voices of people and communities that are marginalized in development. I hope many of the readers of the blog will add their voices to the blog and contribute to our blog on global development and social justice.