The Trinity International Development Initiative

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The Trinity International Development Initiative is an innovative network at Trinity College Dublin which coordinates the university’s contribution to addressing global development challenges, through research, teaching and outreach activities. TIDI coordinates researchers and students at the university and supports them to connect with partners outside the university, to communicate the value of their research, and ensure it has an impact. Since 2007, TIDI has delivered an outreach programme to raise the profile of research for development including the establishment of a website and social media, a fortnightly bulletin which reaches 1,400 subscribers, and public events which have attracted over 6,000 people. TIDI has supported the development of relationships between the university and partners in Ireland and overseas including NGOs, international organisations and university partners in countries including Uganda and Ethiopia. TIDI recognises that global challenges are complex and seeks to engage the wider community with these issues through its outreach programme.

The Trinity International Development Initiative (TIDI) is an innovative, new, network at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) which coordinates the university’s contribution to addressing global development challenges, through research, teaching and outreach activities. TIDI was established in 2007 by a group of researchers from different disciplines who were interested in working together to understand and address challenges such as climate change, HIV/AIDS and socioeconomic disadvantage. TIDI has grown to become a vibrant network of approximately one hundred researchers and the same number of postgraduate students. It is a valuable resource and contact point not only for the university community but also for external stakeholders. TIDI acts as an intermediary to facilitate relationships between TCD researchers and external partners including universities, NGOs, and other development stakeholders in Ireland and around the world. TIDI is a collaborative venture managed by a Steering Committee of researchers drawn from the college’s three faculties with the support of an International Advisory Group chaired by Dr. Mary Robinson, Mary Robinson Foundation- Climate Justice.

TIDI’s objectives are:
1. To promote and raise the profile of TCD’s research in international development
2. To enhance the quality and quantity of research on international development
across a wide range of disciplines
3. To increase the number and enthusiasm of students at all levels and from both (the global) North and South, learning and undertaking research on international development
4. To undertake outreach activities to promote the above and to:
a. Deepen and increase the number of teaching and research partnerships with universities and other institutions in low- and middle-income countries.
b. Increase understanding by the public, government and other stakeholders of the issues and the existing state of knowledge.
5. To firmly establish TIDI as a valued and sustainable resource for all those working on, or interested in, international development at TCD, and a point of engagement for external stakeholders

Outreach and engagement with partners outside the university are key to TIDI’s work. By building partnerships with the external development community TIDI helps ensure that development research is translated to ultimately reduce global poverty and disadvantage. The objectives are achieved through a programme of activities which are targeted at different using a variety of communications channels including our website, social media, public events and research dissemination channels such as conferences and workshops. In December 2011 TIDI published its first Communications Strategy. The strategy defines the initiative’s various stakeholder groups including researchers and students, NGOs and others working on international development issues in Ireland and globally. The Communications Strategy identifies key messages and communications channels to use in order to reach each of these groups. This strategy informs TIDI’s workplan.

TIDI’s Outreach Programme includes the following:

• An annual module for Ireland-based doctoral students entitled “Adapting Research Methodologies for Developing Country Conditions”

• An annual Trinity Development Research Week to showcase the university’s research for international development and engage with external stakeholders

• The annual TCD/UCD Development Research Seminar Series: a key collaboration between Trinity College Dublin’s Trinity International Development Initiative and University College Dublin’s Human Development Initiative

• A vibrant calendar of events with high profile speakers including:
o Dr. Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice
o Prof. Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, Harvard University
o Mr. Brendan Rogers, Director General, Irish Aid
o Prof. Tom Quinn, Director of Centre for Global Health, Johns Hopkins University, USA
o Mr. Brian Atwood, Chair, OECD Development Assistance Committee

• A strong online presence including the TIDI website www.tcd.ie/tidi, Facebook and Twitter pages

• The development of partnerships with Irish universities, NGOs, European networks and universities in Uganda and Ethiopia among others.

Impact of Initiative

TIDI measures impact by seeking regular feedback from stakeholders. We also monitor the use of all of our communications channels using web analytics, facebook insights etc. We are currently in the process of undertaking an evaluation survey which has been circulated to all of our stakeholder groups. To date, we have received over 500 responses to the survey, which will provide us with feedback to ensure we are meeting the needs of each of our target audiences. In September 2011 TIDI produced an Impact Report (attached), detailing some of the initiative’s successes over the past three years including:

• The establishment of TIDI as a central point of contact within the Trinity College Dublin and Ireland for those interested in international development
• The highly regarded TIDI Bulletin which reaches over 1,400 subscribers fortnightly
• The increased reach of social media: the TIDI Facebook page following has recorded a 500% increase since 2010
• The TIDI Website has recorded over 15,000 visits since 2010 and is now ranked as No. 1 in Google search results for “International Development + Dublin”.
• Since 2009 TIDI has organised over 130 public events, with an audience of over 6,000
• TIDI has documented best practices to be used by the university in working with partners in developing countries and has established a model partnership with Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia to encourage research and teaching collaboration between the two institutions.

Originality

TIDI is a small, almost virtual initiative. It is intended to be flexible and creative and to transcend existing college structures to allow all interested members of the college community to engage. A key strength is its ability to bring together researchers and students to work across disciplines. There are a total of two full time staff members working on the initiative therefore there is a requirement to be original and creative with our resources and programmes. TIDI has established several new models of promoting engagement with international development research and teaching.

Evidence of Sustainability
TIDI is a unique and vibrant organisation that has punched well above its weight in the short period since its inception. In its brief existence, it has been established as a leading resource for international development within Trinity College, fostered strong partnerships both internally and externally, produced a vibrant calendar of annual events and outreach activities and devised innovative teaching modules and materials. The initiative was awarded funding from Irish Aid and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) under the Programme of Strategic Cooperation between Irish Aid and Higher Education and Research Institutes 2007-2011 with additional financial support from the Schools of Medicine, Psychology, Natural Sciences and the Institute for International Integration Studies and Centre for Global Health at Trinity College Dublin. Since its establishment, the university has made a strong commitment to international development which is enshrined in its Strategic Plan 2009-2014. International Development has also recently been chosen as one of a number of research priorities within the university’s research strategy. TIDI has also secured several small funding awards and has established a model for sustainability where researchers who are supported to apply for major research funding agree to divert some of their budget to support the initiative. TIDI spans the entire college network of students and researchers across all three faculties and reaches a diverse external audience, from NGOs to the general public.

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