The current DARG Committee is made up of:

Jessica Hope, Chair, University of Bristol

Kate Maclean, Secretary, Birkbeck

Raksha Pande, Treasurer, Newcastle University

Cordelia Freeman, Website and Social Media, University of Nottingham

Gemma Pearson, Undergraduate Prize Co-ordinator & Postgraduate Rep, Royal Holloway

Hannah Smith, Postgraduate Rep, Coventry University

Matt Baillie Smith, Committee Member, Northumbria University

Sarah Jewitt, Committee Member, University of Nottingham


Committee Member Biographies

Jessica Hope– Chair Jessica is a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Bristol, where she is researching how development is conceptualised and promoted in response to climate change – as the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 2015 Paris Agreement come into being. Specifically, she is investigating how social movement agendas are treated and included by international NGOs and how climate change/development politics in Latin America are represented to the Global North in ways that influence understandings of sustainability and change. She has just returned from 2 months of fieldwork in Bolivia, for an RGS funded project that examines  reiterations of Sustainable Development, analysing the contours and limits of sustainability discourse through the ways that global development organisations work with social movements in Bolivia to acknowledge, include and address development and environment issues as key to sustainability. Jessica finished her PhD in 2015 and has since been a lecturer at the  University of Cambridge and a  Teaching Fellow at UCL. She has been on the DARG committee since doing her PhD.


Kate Maclean –Secretary I feel that my teaching and research fit very well with DARG’s profile, and I have the administrative experience to be able to fulfil the expectations of the role. Since completing my PhD in 2008, I have taught a variety of development courses at undergraduate and masters level. These have included courses on my particular focus – broadly ‘gender and development’ – as well as core courses on environment, development, and livelihoods. I have also taught methodology at MA level for students on development courses. My academic work is in the development context and I have published in both development journals as well as broader geography publications. Specific projects include microfinance in rural Bolivia, informal markets and the used clothes trade in El Alto, Bolivia, and urban regeneration and violence in Colombia. I have taken on a range of administrative roles, including Director of Undergraduate Studies at King’s and I am currently Director of the BSc Social Sciences at Birkbeck – the school’s largest degree. My experience in both research and teaching has given me a very clear idea of the specificities of development geography, and how this subject area sits within geography. In both my previous position (at King’s College London) and current position at Birkbeck, I have been active in clarifying the distinctiveness of the field of development geography and the specific needs of students and researchers in this area. I would greatly value the opportunity to continue to do this as a Secretary of DARG, which has been so central in defining and developing this subject area within the context of geography.

Raksha Pande- Treasurer I am a lecturer in critical development studies at Newcastle University.  My research interests are focused on the interface of social, political and development geographies. At a conceptual level, my interest lies in exploring the intersections between postcolonial and feminist approaches within geography. These theoretical concerns are grounded in empirical research in India and the UK. I am the DARG treasurer.

Cordelia Freeman- Website & Social Media I am a teaching associate at the University of Nottingham School of Geography. I have also lectured in cultural geography at the Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile. My PhD examined the history of violence on the Chile-Peru border with in an interest in how state development schemes have affected poverty and violence at the border. My role at DARG is to manage the twitter account, update the DARG website and to help organise undergraduate and postgraduate events.

Gemma Pearson- PG Rep I am a third year PhD Researcher and Tutorial Assistant in the Geography department of Royal Holloway, University of London. My PhD uses grounded theory methodology to explore the significance of social networks and relationships in the lives of of street-connected children in northern Tanzania. My PhD is in partnership with a UK-based charity partner, StreetInvest, and their project partners in Tanzania. Before starting the PhD I spent 5 years working in the charity sector in the UK, and latterly in South Sudan, on projects relating to young people, disaster relief and international development. I am a DARG post-graduate representative.

Hannah Smith- PG Rep I am a PhD student in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, conducting research into the income-generation activities of community-based NGOs in The Gambia. I am interested in utilising a participatory approach to working with local NGOs to collate and share knowledge around best practice in both programme design and organisational management. Prior to beginning my PhD, I worked in university fundraising and was a Trustee of UK-based international development charity, Village Aid.

Matt Baillie Smith I am Professor of International Development at Northumbria University, and director of Northumbria’s Centre for International Development. Before becoming an academic, I worked as a development NGO practitioner. My research particularly focuses on the relationships between international citizenship and development, which I explore through work on areas including international volunteering, development education, NGO engagement strategies and activism. I have a particular interest in and commitment to linking critical development scholarship to wider public engagement and understanding, and this is an area of expertise I would particularly bring to the DARG committee. I am an advisor to the Global Learning Programme, a DfID funded development education programme of which the RGS is a consortium member, and have extensive links with NGOs, education organisations, activists and other organisations that work in this area. Through this expertise and interest, I would like to bring new connections and opportunities to DARG and the ways it can engage with communities beyond academia, as well as further enhancing DARG’s ongoing work in support of critical development scholarship, particularly amongst students and early career academics.

Sarah Jewitt I have research interests in rural development, agriculture, indigenous knowledge systems, gender, sanitation, energy, forest management and common property resources with a particular emphasis on South and Southeast Asia. Recent work in India has focused on decentralized rural energy, improved sanitation and the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the Green Revolution while my work in Southeast Asia has focused primarily on the restoration of tropical peat swamp forests. Current work on barriers to the adoption to improved cookstoves in southern Africa is allowing me to expand my research interests into eastern and southern Africa. I have been on the DARG committee since August 2009 and my main DARG role during this period has been the compilation and circulation of the DARG newsletter/bulletin. I would be happy to continue this role until an alternative system of circulating DARG-related information comes on stream and beyond if the new system requires input from specific committee members. In terms of ideas for expanding DARG’s role in future, I fully support the idea of expanding the DARG membership to include scholars in the global South. I also envisage greater scope for DARG to create opportunities for members to collaborate to form research networks and develop research funding opportunities.