Towards a Call for Problems Approach: Strengthening NGO-Academic Collaborat

December 6 - 7 2018



Towards a Call for Problems Approach: Strengthening NGO-Academic Collaborations

Session Proposal for Change Finance Forum 6th-7th December 2018

Increasingly, academic researchers are concerned to ensure that their research will find its way out of the ivory tower and shape law and policy-making processes. Equally, many NGOs are keen to produce cutting-edge research on particular social issues themselves, and to ensure that their strategies for action are based on the latest thinking on how to deal with complex socio-economic, legal, and political challenges. At times, however, there are logistical and institutional barriers that mean that effective collaborations between NGO and academic partners are not achieved. For example, academics tend to present their research in individual and panel formats at conferences, or to publish research in journals that are not read by wider audiences. While conference panels may touch on related issues, typically, little time apart from a brief Q&A at the end of the session is devoted to thinking about how to tackle concrete issues and challenges. Similarly, NGOs working to respond to or campaign on a particular issue may not always have the time or the resources to bring the latest research to bear on a particular problem.

The objective of this 90-minute workshop is to build bridges between young scholars working on issues related to finance and social justice and NGOs who are investigating and campaigning on the same issues. The workshop will explore the potential of a new format for conferences and workshops: a call for problems approach. Instead of the standard call for papers for academic conferences that often results in a panel of people loosely addressing similar issues, a call for problems approach asks panellists to bring their different disciplinary and methodological perspectives to bear on a single problem generated by an NGO.


  • Cecilia del Barrio - Coordinator of YSI Finance, Law, and Economics Working Group
  • Anna Chadwick - LKAS Fellow at the University of Glasgow
  • 3rd Participant (Alex Maitland, Oxfam – TBC + potential 4th speaker)


  1. The first part of the workshop (35 minutes) will showcase examples of some of the research that young scholars are doing on issues relating to finance and social justice. The Change Finance Forum has already identified 15 areas of concern on their website: Some of the research presented speaks directly to these NGO-identified challenges.

  2. The second part of the workshop begins by highlighting two initiatives that young scholars are currently engaging in with a view to encouraging effective NGO and academic partnerships. These comprise the work being carried out under the remit of the Finance, Law, and Economics Working Group of the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Young Scholars Initiative (INET YSI), and the Finance and Social Justice project at the University of Glasgow. (10 minutes)

  3. After a brief introduction to these initiatives, the third part of the workshop will comprise a knowledge exchange exercise. The NGO representatives and academics attending the session will be asked to fill in a form designed to do the following: to pinpoint the social challenges that they are seeking to tackle; to identify obstacles currently preventing effective collaborations; and to identify pathways to improved NGO-academic partnerships. The ultimate ambition of this exercise to work towards the ‘call for problems’ format discussed above. (30 minutes)

  4. The final element of the workshop will use the work of Finance Watch as a case study to explore the potential of the call for problems approach. A representative from Finance Watch will take the group through their answers to the form from the knowledge exchange exercise.

    Towards a Call for Problems Approach

  1. What is the overarching social challenge that your work on finance is concerned to address?
  1. How are you currently seeking to respond to the challenge (research / campaigning / lobbying / other)?
  1. In what ways could an NGO-Academic collaboration be of value to your work?
  1. What do you regard as the main difficulties of working together effectively with an NGO or academic partner?


If you are an NGO representative, please attempt to formulate an aspect of the social challenge that you are seeking to address as a 2 paragraph case study / problem-solving exercise for academics to respond to.

If you are an academic, please attempt to formulate an aspect of the social challenge that you are seeking to address in your research as a 2 paragraph case study / problem-solving exercise for NGOs to respond to.

Time & Date

Start: December 6 2018

End: December 7 2018

YSI Profile Image

Maria Cecilia del Barrio Arleo

Frankfurt, Germany

External Presenter

Anna Chadwick

University of Glasgow

Local partners

The International Auditorium

Koning Albert II-Laan, Brussel
Working groups
  • Finance, Law, and Economics
Project Organizers
YSI Profile Image

Maria Cecilia del Barrio Arleo

For questions, the Project Organizers.