Critical Development & Diversity Explorations

Our Vision

CDDE is an experimental and innovative co-created course designed and implemented with students of International Development Studies. Adopting a social justice inspired contemplative pedagogy, CDDE focuses on developing students’ critical reflective skills
to recognise and work with diversity.

CDDE focuses on developing students critical reflective skills to:

  1. Do diversity, and recognise and unlearn deeply rooted, embodied and societal structures of othering, discrimination and exclusion;
  2. Explore new, more socially just and transformative ways of relating to the world as a development-scholar/practitioner, by drawing on a range of alternative pedagogies; and
  3. Co-create a space for personal and professional growth.

Together we co-create a space to allow ourselves to engage in critical multicultural dialogue and to explore and exchange alternative knowledges and pedagogies. Sessions are co-created based on the collective thematic interests of the students, and each session is started and closed with a guided reflective and contemplative exercise to allow for reflection, introspection and shared understanding. We draw in the experiences and expertise of students, colleagues and invited guests from development policy, practice and academia.
To read more about our past work and current projects, check out our What we do page.

About Us

CDDE is based at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), in the department of Human Geography, Planning, and International Development. Members are former and current students and staff in the Research Master in International Development Studies.

A Timeline of CDDE

Our Founder

Dr. Mieke Lopes Cardozo is assistant professor at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam, and part of the Governance and Inclusive Development Research Group. She was recently awarded the 2017 Comenius Teaching Fellowship to implement an education innovation project called Critical Development and Diversity Explorations. Mieke is also a certified vinyasa yoga teacher. Connecting a passion for research and teaching that focuses on social justice and transformation, the recently awarded Comenius Fellowship allows Mieke to implement the Critical Development and Diversity Explorations innovation project. 

Current Members

Irene Torsello, Ece Ulkat, Roxana Dumitrescu, Clara McDonnell, Keeke van Passen, Annet Kragt.

Former Members

Alyssa Schmirler, Belle De Jonge , Daniela Sepulveda, Judith Mwengi, Heleen Van Devoort , Veerle Engel, Dani Haudenschild, Dani Haudenschild, Melina Merdanovic, Mila De Graaf, Pauline Bon, Eleonore Nouel, Cybele Atme, Anna Bussmann, Ibtissam Ouaali, Mandy Rosanne, Jana De Poorter, Kafui Adjogatse, Maral Shafafy, Moritz Steigler, Tam Nguyen.

If you want to know more about us and our experiences in CDDE, have a look at our Testimonials page and learn about what it means to co-create and to be part of the future of education.


“Given my anthropological training in Lebanon, I found that there were certain topics in International Development Studies program missing from the curriculum. My initial motivation to join CDDE was its open nature, where I could address and discuss topics that were not being tackled in the classroom. However, but quickly turned into a community and place of comfort. The more sessions I attended, the more I felt comfortable with expressing myself. As such, my experience at CDDE has not only introduced me to new insights and approaches in education, but also contributed to my personal development. It taught me how to express myself freely, and feel confident about what I have to say. At the same time, it has provided me with space where I can reflect on what I want to do for my future career.” – Cybele Atme

“Throughout high school and university, I had the chance to study in different countries and explore various educational systems. As a student with what has been deemed a learning disability (ADHD), I realised that my grades were highly dependent on the way material was taught to me, and that when I was not feeling valued as a student, with teaching staff not valuing students’ input and participation, I tended to do very poorly. CDDE has been a safe space not only to engage with material which was not sufficiently developed in my master’s program, but also to develop more critical thinking skills and explore alternative ways of teaching and learning which felt more appropriate for me as well as more inclusive for (cognitively) diverse students. CDDE allowed me to reclaim the university space as one where I could strive.” – Eleonore Nouel

“For me, CDDE is a way to connect the academic to the personal. It is a space where I am learning to enjoy education again, I have always been very passionate about education, but I often experience stress and anxiety. CDDE  Our focus on contemplation, embodiment and sharing spaces have helped me to reconnect to my surroundings and be more present and mindful. CDDE has also allowed me to explore creative and critical approaches to doing research, such as storytelling and autoethnography.” – Mila De Graaf

“I joined CDDE because I needed to embrace a reflective approach to my academic life. CDDE is a community that I can rely on in both my academic and personal life. I consider it as an activist space and a support network to explore all matters of the intellect.” – Pauline Bon

What We Do

Media Exposure

On the following website, you will find an explanation of ‘who we are?’ and ‘what we do?’ through the words of our founder (in Dutch)… Continue reading

To cite this publication; Lopes Cardozo, M.T.A. (2021), Kritische verkenning van inclusieve ontwikkeling en diversiteit, Mieke T.A. Lopes Cardozo, Onderwijskennis.nl 

Self-care During Covid-19: Yoga opens up guided meditations

On the following website, you will find a series of short, guided meditations that Mieke recorded to support students, PhDs and colleagues of International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam for their home-based practices, during the Covid-19 period in 2020. Please note that these were recorded in a home setting – with some free additional bird calls, children’s play and neighbourhood sounds in the background… Continue reading

Academic Papers

CDDE members who have been exploring inclusive education together for two years already, have taken the initiative to share their experiences by co-writing academic articles. Doing research on ourselves and on our own experiences, we engage in auto-ethnography as a relevant method of academic research. First paper is now published and can be accessed here.

Lopes Cardozo, M.T.A. (2021), Teachtalk – Mieke Lopes Cardozo. In A. Schwittay CreativeUniversities [Interview]. (4 November 2021).

Podcast Episodes (coming soon) 

As a group, CDDE is made up of many inspiring voices. This podcast is an opportunity to explore the diversity of those voices and to explore the process of co-creation in CDDE. Listening to this podcast would give you a glimpse of the CDDE experience. Our objectives are to be able to communicate and share our experiences with you in a non-academic and creative manner  and to explore the diversity of voices of CDDE through story-telling.

Diversity Scan (coming soon) 

In an attempt to facilitate diversity-sensitive teaching at the department faculty of International Development Studies, members of CDDE volunteered to conduct a literature study of the material being taught in the Master’s program. By doing so, CDDE members are able to transfer their experiences in exploring a more inclusive education on a practical level. 


* Diversity Workshops 

AISSR Learning Lab – Amsterdam

Diversity in the classroom: (how) can we co-create inclusive education? On June 20, 2019 CDDE members provided a workshop to university staff members at the AISSR learning Lab.Through contemplative pedagogical approaches in combination with the art of story-telling, we jointly explored a range of questions, including:

  1. Why and how can co-creation – moving from lecturer-led teaching to a collaboration between students and lecturer(s) – be beneficial/challenging in diverse classroom settings?
  2. Why and how can co-creation – moving from lecturer-led teaching to a collaboration between students and lecturer(s) – be beneficial/challenging in diverse classroom settings?
  3. Why and how can co-creation – moving from lecturer-led teaching to a collaboration between students and lecturer(s) – be beneficial/challenging in diverse classroom settings?

AIS Conference 2019 – Amsterdam

Unite and Unrule! A co-created diversity workshop on creative, contemplative  pedagogical approaches for transformative education: On October 24, 2019, we were invited to give a workshop to the participants of the AIS annual conference which took place in Amsterdam. We explored and challenged what it may mean to “unite and unrule” our academic teaching and learning practices and spaces. We welcomed participants  to experience, co-shape and reflect on a holistic pedagogical experiments by sharing the CDDE experience with them. Together, we used pedagogical exercises that aim to;

  1. Recognise and unlearn embodied and societal  structures of othering and coloniality;
  2. Explore more socially just and transformative ways of relating to worlds and knowledges; and
  3. Develop an increased sense of individual and collective agency to effect change.

* Poster Presentations

AIS Conference 2019 – Amsterdam

On October 26, 2019, we were selected to present our CDDE poster at the AIS Conference at the University of Amsterdam. We presented our approaches to co-create a non-hierarchical, safe and more creative learning space and shared our experiences as student members.

Blog Posts

Beyond Diversity: A broad view of inclusive higher education

Inclusiveness can mean something different for every student and lecturer. It is important to involve them in removing barriers in this respect. If higher education institutions are to become not only diverse but also truly inclusive, an intersectional approach to diversity is needed. It’s Tuesday morning. A team of lecturers and the programme director are holding consultations … Continue reading

January 17, 2020

Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI): A collaboration between the university of Amsterdam & Birmingham

A network of academic and professional services colleagues from the universities of Amsterdam (NL) and Birmingham (UK) are working collaboratively to share research and best practice to embed EDI across institutional policy and governance, research, and education … Continue reading

September 10, 2020

May 6, 2020


  • Contact details: Dr. T.A. (Mieke) Lopes Cardozo, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences,, (+31) (0)205254089
  • CDDE email address: 
  • Postal address: Postbus 15629, 1001 NC Amsterdam
  • Visiting address: Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, Room number: C4.15