Isobel Talks

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.