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Message from Director

The Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) was established in 2006 and is the oldest research Center at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh. CSD is the only research institute in Bangladesh dedicated solely to the Sustainable Development dilemma: how can human development needs of all people be realized in a world of finite resources facing enormous environmental challenges, from the collapse of biodiversity to climate change? CSD conducts interdisciplinary research with local and international partners to address the complexities of natural and anthropogenic changes and to integrate sustainability in both policy and practice.
The Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) was established in 2006 and is the oldest research Center at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh. CSD is the only research institute in Bangladesh dedicated solely to the Sustainable Development dilemma: how can human development needs of all people be realized in a world of finite resources facing enormous environmental challenges, from the collapse of biodiversity to climate change? CSD conducts interdisciplinary research with local and intern...
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Dr. Samiya Selim
Associate Professor and Director, CSD
  • Vision

    Our vision for both Bangladesh and the world is that all people, regardless of gender, race or religious creed, are able to live fulfilling and productive lives without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.

  • Mission

    CSD is the only research institute in Bangladesh dedicated solely on the Sustainable Development dilemma: how can the human development needs of all people be realised in a world of finite resources facing enormous environmental challenges, from the collapse of biodiversity to climate change?

    CSD holds a unique place within the wider University. As well as contributing to the core ULAB strengths of teaching and research, with an emphasis on a Liberal Arts education, institutionally we are solely responsible for curating one of ULAB’s guiding principles: that of sustainable development.

    Our mission is threefold. First, we generate original research concerning all aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals, and how to overcome the serious and numerous obstacles to their achievement. Secondly, we educate and train the next generation of sustainability leaders in Bangladesh, particularly through our “Minor in Sustainable Development” course offering.Thirdly, we act as regional hub, hosting both junior and senior scholars with research interest closely aligned with our own, convening leading scholars from around the world at major academic conferences, and establishing innovative partnerships to deliver a disruptive research agenda with real world impact.

    We are guided by five core beliefs:

    • The need for impact: research is of limited use trapped behind the paywall of an academic publisher. We work hard to ensure that our research is disseminated as widely as possible, through the creation of policy relevant material, facilitating dialogue between scientists and policy makers at our events and through wider outreach through the media, think tanks and other stakeholders.
    • The importance of inter-disciplinarity: the world faces threats that are highly complex and non-linear. Addressing them is beyond the scope of any single discipline: CSD brings together a diverse array of scholars, including natural scientists, political economists and anthropologists to facilitate a radical transdisciplinary approach to tackling the sustainability dilemma.
    • The agency of individuals to create change in the world: as highlighted in the recent IPCC report, there is huge scope for individuals to make a real difference, both through their own behaviour and in how they influence the world around them to translate the idea of sustainability into real tangible results.
    • The need to shift the conversation to the Global South: countries like Bangladesh will be disproportionately affected by the consequences of “business as usual” approaches to economic growth. The need for global equity in intergovernmental efforts to address the crises our planet faces can only be truly served if the sites where policy makers and scientists are convened to progress both research and policy agendas are shifted from developed to developing countries.
    • The requirement for partnership with the communities that we serve: we take active and engaged participation seriously, treating research respondents like human beings rather than passive targets for knowledge “extraction.”
  • Current priorities

    We are optimistic and ambitious. Our aspiration is for CSD to become the leading research institute of its kind in Asia. We currently:

    • support active research projects dealing with coastal eco-systems and climate change adaptation, climate change and migration, urban resilience, drought and land and forestry administration.
    • host a thriving visiting researchers programme, with Master’s and PhD students coming to us from institutions in the Netherlands, Ireland and Singapore.
    • maintain strong institutional partnerships that run the full gamut of stakeholders essential to making sustainability a reality, including NGOs, donor agencies, universities, think tanks and the private sector.

    In the near future, we are in the process of expanding our institutional partnerships to include a wider range of institutions, both in Bangladesh and Europe and are developing a new Master’s degree in Sustainable Development, the first of its kind in Bangladesh.

    We are always on the look out for collaboration with like minded individuals and institutions. If you think you’d like to work with us, do not hesitate to get in touch.

SDG Goals

Testimonials

Amelie Tobben
Visiting Researcher, MSc Student at University of Bremen

Arriving in Dhaka can be overwhelming. The prospect of doing my MSc field research is already a big task, but add a new culture, language, sounds and smells and you’ve got a pretty good idea just how immense my initial shock was. Luckily, I had the support of the Centre for Sustainable Development to help me find my feet in my new surroundings. The CSD not only provided a warm welcome, with friendly faces and even some lovely exchanges on people’s experiences in Germany, but also offered fantastic logistical support. Unfortunately my research was not based out of Dhaka, so I could not use the desk and internet access provided for very long, however I read some of the literature published by CSD and it was superb to kick start the first stage of my research.  With my co-supervisor from CSD (Dr. Samiya Selim), I attended a Gobeshona meeting where I was able to network with academics and NGOs working in the field of climate change adapted livelihoods. This meeting was a great first contact and I am thankful for CSD for the exposure.

The aim of my field research was to look at different approaches used by NGOs to transform livelihoods in coastal Bangladesh. The people living in the coastal regions of Bangladesh face several problems; ranging from increased cyclone frequency and intensity to salinity intrusion, riverbank erosion and lack of alternative income sources. The NGO sector has played a big role in disaster relief and livelihood support through monetary and technical means. Understanding different approaches, and looking at projects that have finished in the last 10 years, will hopefully enable me to identify strong and weak points in generating a self-sustaining process. Self-sustaining processes are in itself an aspect of sustainability because it implies that the people involved in the project can carry out independent work beyond the project’s timeframe, and possibly even, the region. The knowledge of what may lead to a self-sustaining process can then be used to aid effectiveness and implementation of future projects and to establish project sustainability.

I hope to be the first of many students from University of Bremen who will come to Bangladesh and collaborate with CSD to continue the outstanding work and share in their passion to help combat the growing need for climate adaptive solutions.

Arriving in Dhaka can be overwhelming. The prospect of doing my MSc field research is already a b...

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Ida Edvinsson
Visiting Researcher

I was given the opportunity to visit ULAB-CSD during an internship-related field trip in Dhaka. At the time, I had yet to formulate my idea for my thesis but nonetheless I felt a strong desire to return to Dhaka as a visiting researcher at CSD. As my internship at a Sustainable Development Consultancy in Denmark came to an end, an outline to a thesis idea began to take form and through correspondence with Dr. Samiya Selim, I was able to get reflections on the ideas that I had, coupled with some very valuable advice on fieldwork and logistics in general.

My research focuses on aspects of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), a form of education which of late has gained remarkable interest in the international community: phrased as “the master key to development” it is considered to be the silver bullet to meet expectations of economic growth worldwide. Bangladesh, partaking in the global trend of recognizing TVET for its instrumental values, also explicitly counts TVET as a key component in moving towards its goal of becoming a middle-income country. Recent years has seen an increase in programs aiming to increase skilled TVET graduates coupled with an increased focus of including more women in these programs. Through the capability framework I am aiming to capture what characterizes young Bangladeshi female TVET students’ educational goals and which actors they perceive as a potential support or obstacle in pursuing these. As such, it enables my analysis to depart from the common lens of human capital theory towards an analysis where the objective and agency of the learner is put at the forefront.

Through the vast network of Dr. Samiya Selim and CSD, I was put in contact with key experts on the issue which allowed for much appreciated feedback throughout my time in Dhaka. Moreover, I got invited to numerous conferences and networking events, which allowed a broader understanding of the education system and the wider situational context. In addition, CSD put me in contact with the most professional and sharp young interpreters, who quickly understood my style of interviewing and the objective of my study.

I would highly recommend the Visiting Researcher program at CSD ULAB to others studying or conducting research in this part of Asia.

I was given the opportunity to visit ULAB-CSD during an internship-related field trip in Dhaka. A...

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Isobel Talks
Visiting Researcher

Arriving in Bangladesh to begin my PhD fieldwork back in April 2019 was a daunting prospect. I had tried my best to sort logistics out from my department at Oxford University, but knew a lot of these would need to be sorted on the ground. Eventually I found my feet in the vibrant and inexhaustible city of Dhaka, but I have no doubt that things would have been a little smoother had I already known about ULAB and the Centre for Sustainable Development’s fantastic Visiting Researcher scheme.

I was lucky to meet with Oliver Scanlan, Research Fellow at CSD, who then went to introduce me to Dr Samiya Selim and the rest of the team. For the second phase of my research from September onwards I officially became a Visiting Researcher, participating in a wide range of research activities as a result. From giving feedback on papers, to supporting the annual conference, to contributing to field trips and reports, writing newspaper articles and teaching classes, I have greatly enjoyed being a part of the CSD team and engaging in the vibrant intellectual community here.

I am grateful to CSD for enabling me to bring together my two main interest areas – technology for development and conservation of the natural environment in the face of the climate crisis – in the work that I have done here. For example, engaging in the research work on Oxfam’s PROTIC work, which is a participatory project that works with rural women to create smartphone based information services on climate adaptation strategies – deepened my understanding of the potential of digital tools to enhance climate resilience. Visiting Cox’s Bazaar with senior academics from Keele University and Bremen University to scope out pro-poor technology projects was also a real highlight of my time here. This trip enhanced my knowledge of the challenges inherent in trying to achieve both social and environmental sustainability through technology.

Aside from the great work that CSD does, the team are also tremendously welcoming and supportive. I feel fortunate to have met them all, and look forward to staying in touch in the future.

Arriving in Bangladesh to begin my PhD fieldwork back in April 2019 was a daunting prospect. I ha...

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Jennifer Lee
Visiting Researcher, PhD Candidate at ETH Zurich

I came to Bangladesh in my first year of my PhD to start building my research network and to get a sense of the country. It was my first time in Bangladesh, and I’m glad that I was able to be hosted at CSD. Everyone was incredibly friendly, and it was very helpful to hear about the lab’s various research projects to help sharpen my own budding research interests. My stay coincided with the CSD annual conference on sustainable development, so it was a great opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of sustainable development research.

The desk space was located in the CSD office, so it was nice to feel a part of the CSD team. It was also great to be able to use the ULAB library—especially since many of the books were not available in my own institution’s library. Through their connections, I was able to visit various sites and projects in Bangladesh to get some exposure to some key environmental and social challenges.

My experience at CSD was incredibly helpful in building my research network in Bangladesh and I look forward to keeping in touch!

I came to Bangladesh in my first year of my PhD to start building my research network and to get ...

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Sara Minnaro
Visiting Researcher, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain), and work in the ERC-funded BIGSEA project as part of the Earth System Dynamics research group (https://earthsystemdynamics.org). Our project aims to develop a unified framework model which represents the most important interactions of the global human-ocean system. I came to Bangladesh to complete fieldwork on subjective well-being in small-scale fishing communities and how it changes, along with fishing effort and environmental perceptions, at different degrees of market integration.

Partnering with the CSD proved a great decision for the duration of the trip; from being picked up at the airport terminal upon my arrival, to being provided with networking opportunities, to the invaluable help in organizing the fieldwork logistics, it was a wonderful experience and a great entrance gate and reference to a deeper understanding of the fascinating and complex country that is Bangladesh.

Our sampled locations needed to include both remote areas and sites fully integrated in the global economy. CSD staff advised me on selecting the sites, which ended up being the remote island of Nijhum Dwip, and several fishing communities in the crowded and more developed Chittagong area.

The scientists at CSD, through their wide network of contacts in Bangladesh, selected a brilliant team of university students who actively participated as field assistants and enumerators in the field research. They also provided the introduction to the communities we would work with, ensuring we had their approval and support to undertake our study. Included are some photos from my fieldwork and my experiences with the CSD team.

I am particularly grateful to Mr. Joy Bhowmik for his kind assistance and efficient handling of logistic matters. I would like to give special thanks to Dr. Samiya Selim for her warm welcome to the team. In the future, I look forward to fruitful ongoing collaborations with the Center for Sustainable Development at ULAB.

I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelon...

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Stephanie de Buhr
Visiting Researcher, MSc Student at University of Bremen

Arriving in Dhaka can be overwhelming. The prospect of doing my MSc field research is already a big task, but add a new culture, language, sounds and smells and you’ve got a pretty good idea just how immense my initial shock was. Luckily, I had the support of the Centre for Sustainable Development to help me find my feet in my new surroundings. The CSD not only provided a warm welcome, with friendly faces and even some lovely exchanges on people’s experiences in Germany, but also offered fantastic logistical support. Unfortunately my research was not based out of Dhaka, so I could not use the desk and internet access provided for very long, however I read some of the literature published by CSD and it was superb to kick start the first stage of my research.  With my co-supervisor from CSD (Dr. Samiya Selim), I attended a Gobeshona meeting where I was able to network with academics and NGOs working in the field of climate change adapted livelihoods. This meeting was a great first contact and I am thankful for CSD for the exposure.

The aim of my field research was to look at different approaches used by NGOs to transform livelihoods in coastal Bangladesh. The people living in the coastal regions of Bangladesh face several problems; ranging from increased cyclone frequency and intensity to salinity intrusion, riverbank erosion and lack of alternative income sources. The NGO sector has played a big role in disaster relief and livelihood support through monetary and technical means. Understanding different approaches, and looking at projects that have finished in the last 10 years, will hopefully enable me to identify strong and weak points in generating a self-sustaining process. Self-sustaining processes are in itself an aspect of sustainability because it implies that the people involved in the project can carry out independent work beyond the project’s timeframe, and possibly even, the region. The knowledge of what may lead to a self-sustaining process can then be used to aid effectiveness and implementation of future projects and to establish project sustainability.

I hope to be the first of many students from University of Bremen who will come to Bangladesh and collaborate with CSD to continue the outstanding work and share in their passion to help combat the growing need for climate adaptive solutions.

Arriving in Dhaka can be overwhelming. The prospect of doing my MSc field research is already a b...

Read More