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Welcome to HURDLblog

Welcome to HURDLblog – the official(ish) outlet for the thoughts, random and otherwise, of those of us working in the Humanitarian Response and Development Lab (HURDL) in the Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina. As the ringleader/responsible party for HURDL, it falls to me to say hello and introduce the blog. Right now HURDL is one professor and five Ph.D. students, with a postdoc/research assistant to come soon. And, of course, I already have my own blog – Open the Echo Chamber. So why start another blog for HURDL?

The answer is pretty simple – while I direct HURDL, I am not the only voice, or the only opinion, in the lab. While our interests broadly cohere around some sort of development/humanitarian assistance/environment nexus, we’re a diverse bunch. We’re involved in projects in seven countries at the moment (counting dissertation projects), and the team has experience in Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia, and the Middle East. We have expertise in development policy, livelihoods, climate change adaptation, environmental governance, agrarian settings, humanitarian response, and qualitative methods (though we can count, if it’s really necessary. Usually it isn’t). And we’re a polyglot bunch. I’ve never done an official count, but all told I think we cover something on the order of nine or ten languages. Making all of that sing with a single voice is tough.

But more to the point, making all of that sing with a single voice would be a terrible waste. My students have expertise and experience I do not. And I encourage them to disagree with me when they feel it is warranted – I’ve never punished someone for disagreement, and I’ve been rewarded more than once by comments from a student that saved me from doing/saying something stupid. So, I have my expertise and opinions, and my students have other expertise and often other opinions. The best use of our talents, I think, is to present this diversity in its cacophonous glory and see what happens. We all get along well, so I doubt there will be any all-out intramural flame wars, but differences of opinion? Yep.

So here we go: HURDLblog. I will continue to post over at Open the Echo Chamber, and cross-post relevant things here. I will probably generate posts for this site too, at least where the material is all about the lab. But trust me, there’s enough talent in HURDL that I don’t worry much about there being adequate interesting content for this site.