An initiative originally started and currently supported by CASSU: Contemporary Asian Studies Students Union, INDePth: Interrogating Notions of Development and Progress is an annual student-run conference hosted by the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto. Our goal is to enable students from leading Canadian and international universities to work together to better understand economic and social development in regional contexts.
A typical INDePth Conference features workshops, panel discussions, a Great Debate, and unique “unconference” sessions that each complement one another to maximize the experience. By the end, students are empowered to pursue development projects at both the local and international levels. Moreover, they are able to build a network of like-minded colleagues to help them achieve their goals.
The inaugural INDePth Conference was held in March 2012, using Indonesia as a case study to spark discussions on government policies, global health aid, and resource extraction in the developing world.
Since then, INDePth has continued to be an idea-sharing and networking platform for students. In 2013, we focused on China using the framework of “End of Development.” In 2014, our theme was “Reimagining the Korean Peninsula: Global Forces, Social Change and Conflict Resolution.”
INDePth is proud to announce South Asia as our 2016-2017 regional site. Delegates will explore South Asia through the theme of “South Asian Worlds” by engaging with the key question of “How do South Asian ‘worlds’ challenge ‘third world’ imaginaries?”
Innovative Conference Design
INDePth is run by students, for students. The emphasis on workshops enables students from different backgrounds to interact in small groups, where they can explore issues of development in greater detail. A medical student and an anthropology student will each offer different but complementary perspectives on a single question. INDePth is proud to attract students from a wide variety of disciplines. We believe this is our strength, one we hope to capitalize on through our interactive structure.
The “Unconference Model” was a product of our realization that exciting things happen when people are able to lead discussions. Unconference sessions allows all students whether introverted or extroverted, to start a conversation about a topic that appeals to them. We provide students with posters and pens to advertise their discussions, giving students a chance to expand on relevant issues they believe are worth discussing.
Having a Necessary Discussion
Development is not a straightforward process. It results in a multitude of changes that potentially impact millions of lives. Development tends to have strong positive connotations because it can be the process that pulls populations out of poverty. Nevertheless, it can be a process that empowers some while marginalizing others. With considerable room for improvement, development would benefit greatly from conceptual unpacking.