Introducing our new Director of Research, Dr. Heather Marquette
Dear friends and colleagues,
As many of you know, DLP lost its founding Director of Research, Dr. Adrian Leftwich, to cancer in April this year. His death was a tragic loss to us and a great loss to DLP, but even as Adrian faced his battle with the disease in the first few months of this year, he urged DLP to continue and to move forward. He recognised the need to think about a successor, and we had many discussions about the kind of person that we should look for.
As such, when the time came to begin the difficult task of identifying someone to continue Adrian’s legacy, we were keen to ensure that the chosen person would maintain his passion, energy and drive, and above all his intellectual integrity. I feel confident that in our appointment of Heather Marquette, we have found such a person.
Heather’s research has always had strong synergies with the intellectual framework and focus of DLP. As Director of Research, Heather will be able to maintain DLP’s core focus while also deepening and strengthening its research. Her aim, in taking up this leading role with DLP, will be to build a strategic research agenda that can help us to develop a deeper understanding of the role of politics and leadership in development, and the ways in which thinking and working politically can contribute to the improved effectiveness of development assistance.
In our appointment of Heather Marquette, we have also chosen to explore a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with the University of Birmingham. The University has always had a strong focus on high quality multidisciplinary research that creates a major impact in its field and engages with practice, business and government. The University emphasises the rigour, integrity and ethics of its research, and has a wealth of experience in the operation of large-scale research programs like DLP, including the highly respected GSDRC (formerly known as the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre), where Heather is Academic Director. We look forward to building a fruitful collaboration.
Many of you will already know Heather’s track record in the field of development politics, both in academic and in policy circles, but I’ve asked her to write a few words to introduce herself to the DLP community:
Like many of my colleagues, I have no hesitation in claiming Adrian Leftwich as the biggest single influence on my work. From the first time I was assigned his books and papers as a Master’s student through to more recent discussions with him on DLP’s research and the politics of development, Adrian has shaped both my research and my teaching. I was fortunate to know him, and – like many others – I have been extremely moved, though not surprised, by the tributes that have poured into DLP since we lost Adrian in April.
I have always been incredibly impressed by DLP’s vision, the depth and breadth of its research and the ways in which its research helps us to better understand the challenges of politics and leadership for development. Joining the DLP team as Director of Research was not a decision I made lightly: DLP represents the coming together of decades’ worth of Adrian’s research and policy engagement. It is my job now to honour that legacy and uphold the values on which DLP has been built.
DLP’s new Deputy Director of Research is Dr. David Hudson, who is based at University College London‘s (UCL) School of Public Policy. David worked closely with Adrian over the past year on political analysis. David and I will be working with Steve and the rest of the DLP management team to ensure that Adrian’s vision for DLP continues. We share Adrian’s belief in the primacy of politics and in the transformative role that developmental leadership can play. DLP’s research will continue to be underpinned by these beliefs. Respecting DLP’s foundations, we will help to build a strong programme of research that helps us answer some of the questions challenging scholars and practitioners working on the politics of development and developmental leadership. We will be introducing new research products and a new approach to communicating our research, working in particular with the GSDRC’s information and communications team.
The International Development Department (IDD) at the University of Birmingham is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the coming year, and for the past half a century has been involved in research that cuts across many of DLP’s interests. Through our Master’s programmes and professional training, we aim to help develop the next generation of leaders, and DLP’s research will feed directly into this work.
In the next few months, I will be meeting with researchers who have been working alongside Adrian – some old friends and some new ones – in order to plan the next stage of DLP’s research. I am proud to be a member of the DLP team, and I very much look forward to working together to take Adrian’s legacy into the future.
DLP Programme Director
DLP Director of Research