The combination of close inter-cultural cooperation with fellow students and the possibility to develop a personal trajectory made the Master an extremely valuable experience for me. Moreover, CADES strongly influenced my current research into the role music industries can play in processes of human development.

Christiaan De Beukelaer
PhD candidate at the University of Leeds, Winner of the 2012 Cultural Policy Research Award, and member of COST Action "Investigating Cultural Sustainability." - CADES graduate

CADES is an English-taught programme which brings together students and professionals from all over the world, involved or interested in consultancy, policy, education and research in the international development sector. It offers students a large international and interdisciplinary platform to deal with development issues from an anthropological perspective.

The programme is rooted in contemporary social and cultural anthropology, and draws on a wealth of viewpoints to enhance students’ multi-disciplinary and intercultural expertise and skills. It builds on the following disciplines and thematic specialisations: architecture and urban planning, economics, ethics, gender studies, post-colonial theory, comparative religion, agriculture and engineering, education, politics, psychology, law and philosophy.

Overall, CADES mediates between the universal and culture-specific claims on knowledge and human fulfilment. Based on research conducted at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA) and the Interculturalism, Migration and Minority Research Centre (IMMRC), the programme counters the universalising Western master-narrative of modernisation and stimulates an integrated approach to development issues. As such, it does not offer students a practical development toolkit, but rather questions whether available tools are suitable and applicable in any given context.

More specifically, CADES aims to show how societies deal with the significant and omnipresent forces of globalisation and how subaltern groups respond to or resist them. It strives toward the ideal that ‘progress’ does not entail the end of local cultures and endogenous knowledge systems but rather their reinforcement and emancipation. Undoubtedly, only a profoundly diverse intercultural understanding of- and engagement for- development can open innovative avenues of equity.

In order to keep pace with current trends and insights in the professional world, CADES has regular contacts with the research Chair of Development Cooperation at HIVA, the Belgian Technical Cooperation, CARITAS international and invites guest lecturers from the Development field.

Development is only sustainable when it fully acknowledges the culture-specific ways in which societies or networks deal with often increasingly scarce life resources and manage processes of production, exchange or dwelling. Most often, communities view change or development as desirable only when it meaningfully blends with the cultural values that inspire their heritages of knowledge, religion and art; networks of communication, consultation and decision-making; or notions of responsibility, parenthood, nourishment and health. Indeed, development is mediated by a community's common-sense knowledge and pragmatic motives, as well as by its culture-specific concepts of fertility, gender, kinship, leadership, individual and collective identities and status, patronage, ethics, politics and justice.

Anthropologists research, analyse, interpret, describe and compare societies and cultures. Knowledge acquired mainly through fieldwork and participant observation enhances our understanding of the rich diversity of knowledge systems, worldviews and modes of living. Anthropologists avoid approaching a given culture in the light of their own standards of knowledge, truth, values or technological development. By focusing on the social dimension, anthropology, more so than any other discipline, tries to uncover the hidden transcripts and power dynamics that lie beneath many development issues.

Student profile
Candidates have an interest in consultancy, policy, education or research in the international and/or intercultural development context. They are interested in anthropological and culture-specific views on development and opt for an interdisciplinary academic specialisation towards a better understanding of the development paradigms.