From dream to reality

by Thabit Jacob, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Dodoma

When three of us from the organising committee (Mathew Bukhi, Dan Brockington and I) met in an office somewhere in central Tanzania back in March 2013, a grand idea was discussed. We talked about the possibility of organizing an international academic conference at the University of Dodoma. The meeting was followed by email exchanges and skype meetings and despite my nervousness, I fully embraced the idea. I was under no illusion of the challenge, bearing in mind that the conference would be a follow-up to similar academic gatherings held in well-established institutions in Europe and North America.

Building alliances

Since then, the three of us have tried – with some success – to convince like-minded colleagues within our networks to be a part of this challenging endeavour. After a month of meetings and calls, we had a very dynamic and dedicated team of individuals scattered in various corners of the globe from Dodoma, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Copenhagen, Manchester, Hague, Michigan, New Hampshire and later Cape Town and Nairobi. It has been an absolute pleasure working with this team, who have turned our idea into reality.

Back in Dodoma, organizing various items on the ground has been a lengthy process, but it has taught us a lot: we have learned a range of skills, from fundraising and event management, to logistics and negotiating skills. It has been interesting to interact with diverse actors such as bureaucrats, airline companies, travel operators and caterers, to mention a few.

Creating a buzz

Amidst all logistical, infrastructural and bureaucratic challenges of setting things up on the ground, excitement has been building for the conference next week. The buzz isn’t just about the location. It’s also about the diverse group of presenters from different disciplines, countries and continents. I’m excited by the lineup of speakers and it’s no doubt that the conference promises to be richly provocative in its quest to reimagine and critique the green economy narrative.

The excitement is also about the relevance of the theme (green economy). Not only is this topic very fitting for countries and institutions in the south, but it is timely because of the renewed interest in greening economies, especially after the Rio+20 conference.

Finally, for junior researchers like myself, Mathew and many other in Tanzania and across Africa, the conference offers a platform to build networks with scholars from other corners of the world. I can’t wait.

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[…] These two advantages are of course in addition to the political, intellectual and social rewards of attending a conference in the South, with much greater participation from Southern researchers than is also normally possible at conferen…. […]

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