Research Consultancy: Challenges and Opportunities to Address the Dominant Economic Paradigm in Development Education

09 April 2024

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Invitation to Tender and Terms of Reference

Centre for Global Education and Financial Justice Ireland

The Centre for Global Education (CGE) is a development non-governmental organisation (NGO) which provides education services that enhance awareness at a local level of international development issues.  The Centre was established in 1986 to challenge dominant stereotypes and commonly held perceptions of developing countries which are prevalent in our society.  The Centre has the remit of promoting global learning, which is a participative and experiential form of education designed to engender new skills, values, attitudes and knowledge that enable us to understand the factors that underpin poverty and injustice around the world.  The Centre regards action as a central outcome of global learning and encourages learners to actively engage with development issues to bring about positive social change both locally and internationally.  There are different terms used to describe this approach to education including: global learning, global education, development education and global citizenship education.  All of these terms are valid and often used interchangeably.

Financial Justice Ireland (FJI) is a global financial justice NGO which believes a just and sustainable financial system is essential to bring about a world free from poverty and inequality. Mainly through development education training programmes, FJI critically engages people to understand the structural causes of global inequality and power relations. We aim to empower people in Ireland to take informed action for greater economic justice globally. Campaigning work has focused on international calls for debt relief; interrogating Ireland’s role in international tax structures; and increasingly how questions of financial justice relate to the climate crises. FJI is one of the few specialist development NGOs that concentrate on the sources of economic injustice and has extensive experience in research and policy engagement in these areas that it applies to its development education practice. 

Both CGE and FJI are committed to the critical pedagogy of development education, which combines reflective learning with informed citizen action.  They have delivered activities linking the impact of the dominant economic paradigm - described variously as neoliberalism, financialisation and deregulation - on the island of Ireland and the global South.  They believe that the question of financial justice and equity should be central to development education practice in the island of Ireland.

Research Summary

The Centre for Global Education (CGE) and Financial Justice Ireland (FJI) are seeking a consultant to carry out research on challenges and opportunities to address the dominant economic paradigm, known as neoliberalism, in development education. This initiative will build upon baseline research successfully commissioned by CGE and FJI in 2021-22, titled: International Development and Development Education: Challenging the Dominant Economic Paradigm?. That research investigated the extent to which the development education and international development sectors in the island of Ireland were engaging with the global economic system, i.e. neoliberalism, as the root cause of poverty. The research found that neither sector "give anywhere near adequate attention to explorations with the public of the economic causes of poverty, inequality and injustice and of responses, through education, to the global neoliberal system".

The independently conducted research confirmed the concerns of both organisations, including in CGE’s role as the editor of an international journalPolicy and Practice: A Development Education Review, that the DE and ID sectors have not adequately engaged with the neoliberal economic system as the root cause of spiralling levels of inequality and the deepening climate emergency.  The aim of this proposal is to act upon the central recommendation of the report which is to investigate why the international development and development education sectors in the island of Ireland are not engaging with neoliberalism as the root cause of poverty. 

We aim to do this in partnership with the membership of the two main international development and development education networks in Ireland: Dóchas, the Irish Network for International Development and Humanitarian Organisations; and the Irish Development Education Association (IDEA). This engagement will focus on how the stated intentions of member organisations of these networks regarding poverty, inequality and injustice can be addressed through educational approaches that involve the public in explorations of the global economic system, and what the challenges and opportunities are in doing so. It will also consider how the practices of their member organisations, mostly focused on single issues, can incorporate global systems thinking into their work, in particular through approaches that actively include people in a process that enquires into, discusses, reflects on and responds to the dominant global economic system.

What the research aims to achieve

We invite tenders from independent researchers with a strong knowledge and understanding of both the development education and international development sectors in the island of Ireland to lead the project research and produce a report setting out the main findings. The researcher will:

  • Organise and facilitate three online consultation seminars with members of Dóchas and IDEA, and development education colleagues in the European Union to discuss how systemic thinking on neoliberalism as the root cause of poverty and inequality can be introduced into their practice.  The seminar with colleagues from the EU will support a comparative analysis of challenges and opportunities to introduce neoliberalism into development education practice in other parts of the European Union
  • Facilitate two Focus Groups of ten participants each with members of Dóchas and IDEA to refine the discussion on neoliberalism using the outcomes of the seminars.  The Focus Groups will probe in greater detail the kind of tools and training needed to incorporate neoliberalism into sectoral activities, particularly public engagement work. Notes from the Focus Groups will contribute to the final report.
  • Conduct an online survey of one hundred INGO practitioners from the DE and ID sectors inviting them to reflect on their practice and the challenges and opportunities to incorporate analysis of neoliberalism into their work.
  • Compile and publish a research report sharing the research findings and learning from the seminars, focus groups and survey.  The report will be disseminated through the activities of CGE and FJI in partnership with development networks to which we are affiliated including IDEA, Dóchas, the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies Northern Ireland, the Development Education Research Centre in London and Development Studies Association Ireland in Dublin.

Through a combination of three online seminars, two Focus Groups and an online survey, the project will enable the researcher to consult leading practitioners on the challenges and opportunities to incorporate an analysis of neoliberalism into their practice. The bedrock of this intervention is the 2022 research report commissioned by CGE and FJI. The three online seminars will open with a reflection on the findings of the 2022 research report and will use participative development education methodologies to support discussion on neoliberalism in a development context.  The seminars will be recorded and the outcomes captured.  CGE and FJI will support the researcher by promoting the seminars and ensuring healthy levels of participation.

Timeframe for the Consultation

CGE and FJI would like the consultancy to commence in May 2024, or as soon as possible thereafter, and end in November 2024. The timescale and work plan will be agreed with the consultant.

Invitation to Tender

CGE and FJI invite tenders for this consultancy.  Tender submissions should be emailed to Stephen McCloskey, CGE Director ( by 5.00pm on Monday, 29 April 2024 and should include:

  • Your CV and CVs for any other individuals you plan to involve in the work.
  • An outline (max 350 words) setting out your understanding of the proposal and what makes you the ideal candidate to carry out this piece of work.
  • A tailored work plan, budget and timeline.
  • Contact details of two referees with whom you have previously worked in an educational context that we may approach for references.

The total amount available for this work is €5,600.00 inclusive of VAT and travel expenses. For further information, please contact

Liaison and Reporting

The consultant will be briefed upon appointment by the directors of CGE and FJI and will report to them at regular intervals during the compilation of the report.

For further reading please visit:

Centre for Global Education website:

Financial Justice Ireland website:

Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review:

April 2024