Compassion - a new mindset for development studies?

Inaugural lecture by ISS rector, Professor Ruard Ganzevoort
Ruard Ganzevoort inaugural lecture - group photo on stairs
Ruard Ganzevoort inaugural

In his inaugural lecture given as part of ISS' Dies Natalis celebrations on 12 October 2023, new rector of the International Institute of Social Studies, Professor Ruard Ganzevoort, argued that compassion could offer a new mindset enabling us to reconceive development in non-extractive ways.

Entitled ‘Development between extraction and compassion’, he began by defining extractivism as ‘… a philosophical perspective that questions the broader discourse of the mindset and cultural frameworks of extraction’, arguing that ‘… it is a mindset that is pertinent to our thinking about development, about politics, about economy and much more.’

It is, he states, the cultural framework that underlies a significant part of European cultures and is central to our approach to many societal dimensions including finance, time, data, relationships, religion and knowledge.

Focusing specifically on the teaching and research carried out at ISS, he argues that it is also present in development discourses and practices and wonders whether and how we can reconceive development in non-extractive ways. He argues that we need to develop an alternative fundamental mindset that leads to different ways of relating to the world.

Inaugural lecture Ruard Ganzevoort - Dies Natalis 2023

Inaugural lecture Ruard Ganzevoort - Dies Natalis 2023

Compassion - a new mindset for development studies?

One such mindset, he suggests, is compassion which he defines as ‘… a virtue that is developed over time through a long series of warm and painful experiences, hard and daily choices, honest reflection and introspection and, especially, concrete actions.’

Such a mindset has as its starting point an awareness that everything is connected. It also implies that we are willing to be affected by ‘the other’ and that we can turn that awareness and willingness to be affected into action. This, he argues, enables us to engage in a radical analysis of the fundamental values underlying existing practices and structures as well as practical steps toward change.

Download the inaugural lecture

'Development between extraction and compassion'


Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes