Invitation to Dialogue Questions

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The following individuals have either provided feedback or expressed interest in the development of the Knowledge Expeditions.

  • Peter Bury (IRC)
  • Dorine Ruter (ETC)
  • Atanu Garai (Oneworld)
  • Jane Carter (Intercooperation)
  • Jaap Pels (IRC)
  • Mark Lundy (CIAT)
  • Boru Douthwaite (CIAT)
  • Lena Zuniga (Sulu Batsu)
  • Camilo Villa

Here is some of the feedback that we have received to date:

Views on knowledge expedition

1. About Knowledge for development

2. The metaphor 'knowledge expedition'

How does the metaphor of Knowledge Expedition resonate with you?

  • "It resonates of adventure into the (largely) unknown. I love adventures, in the preparation of the ‘team role management’ training, I have been caraterized as such by 7 world wide networking contacts J . I’m searching for how to manage knowledge better, within myself, with colleagues and with partners… so…"
  • "It resonates with me as the way we have been conceptualizing the work from La Catalina. Perhaps because the lack of experience of this sector in KS activities, our partners expect us to explore the questions with them. I guess what I mean is in our practice, the questions are always guiding the process and the tools are taken from many sources, old and new, high tech and low tech, mixed and adapted to answer specific questions."
  • "Strongly. The idea that we are learning together by passing through similar terrain together is really similar to what we have seen works in the Learning Alliance context. I think the idea of shared process is perhaps even more important than common or shared tools."
  • "At some point of time, I was interested in exploring the history of 'knowledge for development' as a theory and practice, as it emerged across disciplines and various industry. IT companies were perhaps the first ones who attempted at capturing knowledge to deliver to its employees as and when there is a need. The reasons were obvious. But it is difficult to trace when international development field also was influenced by the issue of 'knowledge for development'. I guess the work for K4D as we know today is not more than 10 years old.

I don't have the opportunity of delve into the details of how K4D works or should work, but for the NGO community, this helps them in developing a set of toolkits that help both the NGO functionaries and the target community to understand the issue they are dealing with and developing and adopting appropriate mechanism of dealing with that issue.

In a sense, for K4D to be a successful "methodology for development", it is important to recognise the content of the toolkit as well as its format. "

  • "Knowledge expedition as a terminology sounds a clearly defined, goal-oriented approach of practices emanating from knowledge management."

What is your reaction to the idea of moving from answers to questions, and organising around themes rather than tools?

  • "I often don’t have answers and if I have I still like to question them involving others. Tools are useful but developing them on the basis of dialogues with others around themes seems more productive."
  • "I think this is makes lots of sense, but then again this is exactly what we have done in Learning Alliances so perhaps I am not the most unbiased person to ask!"
  • "If your question seeks to justify a greater degree of importance of answers to questions or themes to tools, then you might be frustrated to deliver a sound and robust knowledge for development project in a typical development context. I have said this earlier. Tools will be of significance importance to the learners and project target groups. Be it a documentary, presentation or a simple narrative, format and delivery tools will have significant impact on how much the target population receives the message and become energised to act against that message. Themes are nonetheless important, but knowledge around themes are available in abundance. The lesson for the K4D community is that such availability of knowledge has not automatically be translated into action, unless that is used to instigate minds. We have so far exploited questions and tools for instigating minds to help them discover more."

What are your responses to the 8 themes we suggest?

"I have to be honest, I don’t have all the themes at hand while answering here. 8 seems many, I’ll have to chose, and I will, where to start."

  • I like them, but worry they are abstract at some level.
  • "I agree these are constant challenges in our practice. However, I don't understand clearly what "growth" means. Also, "vision" could be conceptualized better... what do we mean with "maps to the future? From my particular bias :) I'll add something like "media", what media we are using to support learning? What are the lessons learned from using different media, old and new? Something like that."
  • "I think there is a luxury to think of things like "voices" or "glue" - it might be good to see if these sorts of themes register with a variety of our community members. I don't know."
  • "In general, excitement. These topics are of direct relevance to what we are doing in Learning Alliances and would help us answer many similar questions that we have there. With the possible exception of 'vision' all have been touched on or discussed at one point or another with LA partners over the last couple of years without much advance. Trying to answer there 'process' questions while simultaneously providing rural enterprise development training & coaching is more than we can do effectively. If we were able to link with an initiative of the type that K4D is proposing,however, I feel confident that this would change. FYI these questions are high on the 'wish list' of many of our development partner agencies, especially those that have taken the concept of learning on -board in a serious fashion.
  • "All the techniques you have suggested are very relevant practices. Perhaps we have to learn about them more and investigate on their efficacy in practical situation. In some cases we are overdoing certain things. In other cases, there are repetitions. We need to avoid them. But the bottom line is that as a practitioner you have to decide which process suits you the best. We have not so far experimented with the combination of few methods. Perhaps that would be the next step that we can embark upon as part of the Knowledge Expeditions programme."

How do you respond to the idea of a 3 or 4-year enquiry, using Learning Alliances to mount Knowledge Expeditions on a particular theme?

  • "I’m an active promoter of learning alliances without specific experience with LA but certainly with related methods. 3 – 4 years may seem long, but it most probably will be needed as long as we have interval reflections and lots of documentation (gosh that will take time too!)."

  • "I think the long term approach is sustainable depending on how "fluid" the membership really is... and then... how do you ensure continuity and advance. That is also a challenge of the KS community I guess :)"
  • "I think it is great, but then again I'm biased!"
  • "This would be really something very worthwhile to pursue. I told you earlier that the growth of K4D in the context of international development is relatively modest. In my belief, this would provide us a solid case methods to demystify in the development context. I will be interested to participate in such programmes."
  • "I think it's a great idea, it's like a return to the roots, it brings a more vital insight to the knowledge tools by recovering for them the main goal, more into the content and less on the form"

What kind of questions would you ask to help shape the concept in more concrete terms?

  • "How do we organize ourselves to get started? How come I havn’t found the other expedition members easily? Probably because I have to invest more time!"
  • "How to involve more people from the South."
  • "How will the overall governance of the process be managed? Who are potential participants (people and organizations) and where do they already overlap (themes and geography)? How will you balance the diverse interests of partners and guarantee concrete outputs of some kind that benefit participants?

Who will take the lead on documenting learning processes, especially with more development oriented partner agencies at the local level? This is a MAJOR issue."

  • These questions are the starting points. How you would like to apply knowledge in the context of development? How do you do that? What are the results you expect from them? What are the key issues that we should concentrate through our activities?
  • "Why do we need to invite experts and facilitators to the workshop? I think it should be more our own creation and therefore use the encounter to explore/develop our own way of working for the coming years/phases"

What might you, as an individual, be interested in contributing to this work?

  • "Ideas, energy and, where possible, links to on-going activities that could inform or be informed by this kind of work."
  • I leave it to you! What do you expect from me?
  • "creativity, contacts, fun and experience"


  • "I will take the opportunity to [self-organise with colleagues to discuss the concept and forward any comments directly to Simone and Allison] during the South Asia learning and sharing workshop on Resource Centre Development (RCD) in the WASH sector in Delhi, starting July 3d."
  • "I would suggest that you change the name Knowledge Expeditions to something more broad that has to do with developing a KS Curriculum based on the proposed themes. It seems to me that this better describes what you are trying to do. Knowledge Expeditions would be a part of the curriculum."