This semester I am coordinating a Masters subject titled ‘Contemporary Issues in Development Practice’. As part of this subject, I have asked my students to keep a reflexive diary. Each week we work together to come up with a new question (relative to the weekly theme) for students to think reflexively about. In this exercise I encourage students to focus on their positionality within landscapes and debates of development, as well as their perfomativity as a development actor.


In Week 2 of the semester, the question posed was: Where do you position yourself/your future self within hierarchies of aid and development?


I would like to share below the entry of one of my students, Megan Butterworth. Each week I am continually impressed by the enthusiasm and insights displayed by my students, and Megan’s poem completely blew me away. Well done Megan!


The Development Arena

Megan Butterworth


Aspirations and naive dreams;

Big ideas and development schemes.

These were what I once had planned,

But now I’m not sure where I stand.

An easy fix cannot be found

To complex problems on the ground.

Education is what I know

Will provide the seeds I’ll one day sow.

The development arena is a formidable place

With complex challenges beneath its face.

Poverty and power interplay,

Inextricably linked in every way.

I feel unsure what skills I’ll need

To make good change and take the lead.

Development blunders in past years

Linger closely to my fears.

But there is something that pulls my heart,

Makes me almost break apart.

An insidious drive I can’t ignore;

It’s what our climate has in store.

We are our own biggest threat

If greenhouse targets are not met.

Development challenges are on the rise,

With changes in climate, it’s no surprise.

I have the passion and the might

To join the global climate fight.

I will begin right on the ground,

To gain experience that is sound.

But multilaterals is where I see

My experience will lead me.

Just which one I cannot say,

It changes every single day.

This semester I will make a plan

To aim for a place I’ll one day stand.