Critical Development & Diversity Explorations

About CDDE

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 has focused on developing students’ critical reflective skills
to recognise and work with diversity. The project has been 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.

CDDE has focused 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 have co-created a space to allow ourselves to engage in critical multicultural dialogue and to explore and exchange alternative knowledges and pedagogies. Sessions have been co-created based on the collective thematic interests of the students, and each session was started and closed with a guided reflective and contemplative exercise to allow for reflection, introspection and shared understanding. In CDDE, we have drawn in the experiences and expertise of students, colleagues and invited guests from development policy, practice and academia.

In the final season of CDDE, the project has looked different. In 2022, there were no new member, but instead there was a focus on retrospective reflections and co-creating inputs with existing members. The final season of CDDE is marked by the various outputs, which have been produced (see below), and the spirit of CDDE also lives on in other projects, which the founder, Mieke Lopes Cardozo, is involved in. She is now an active member of the Programme Committee for the master in International Development Studies, which focuses on diversity and inclusion. Furthermore, she is facilitating an experimental training on academic-civic engagement, purpose, and inspiration called CREATE. The first season happened in the spring of 2022, and more info on the new season will follow soon.

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 awarded the Comenius Teaching Fellowship in 2017 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 awarded Comenius Fellowship allows Mieke to implement the CDDE innovation project. This project continued after the Comenius Fellowship and had six inspiring seasons. The project has transitioned into other projects, in which Mieke is involved, as the IDS Programme Comittee and CREATE.

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

CDDE Members

We want to highlight the huge inputs which all CDDE members have contributed with during over the years. Everyone has brought something unique into the project, and this co-creation has been invaluable for the project and its future forms.

A big thank you to:

Year 2017: Anna Bussmann, Ibtissam Ouaali, Mandy Koenrades, Jana De Poorter, Kafui Adjogatse, Maral Shafafy, Moritz Steigler, Tam Nguyen.

Year 2018: Eleonore Nouel, Cybele Atme, Mila De Graaf, Pauline Bon, Heleen Van Devoort, Dani Haudenschild.

Year 2019: Alyssa Schmirler, Belle De Jonge, Daniela Sepulveda, Judith Mwengi, Veerle Engel, Melina Merdanovic.

Year 2020: Irene Torsello, Ece Ulkat, Roxana Dumitrescu, Clara McDonnell, Keeke van Passen, Annet Kragtx.

Year 2021: Sara Baheta, Laura van der Wal, Nils Simonsen, Sidsel Petersen.

Students who contributed to the CDDE outputs team from 2019-2022: Judith Mwengi, Veerle Engel, Melina Merdanovic, Mila De Graaf, Pauline Bon, Cybele Atme, Ece Ulkat, Roxana Dumitrescu, Clara McDonnell, Keeke van Passen, Annet Kragt, Sara Baheta, Laura van der Wal, Nils Simonsen, Sidsel Petersen.


“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

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

CDDE outputs

Written output

Media Exposure and Online Publications

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

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

De Wit, M., van den Bergh, Buijs, D. Lopes Cardozo, M.T.A., van der Wee, M., Wals, A. (2022), Regeneratief onderwijs: samen op onderzoek uit, with contributions by Hordijk, M., Tieks, N., and Wessels, K. White Paper of the Community of Practice Regenerative Higher Education, Centre of Expertise Mission Zero, Haagse Hogeschool, May2022, available online via link

Academic Papers

Under review and will be added soon..

Workshops & Presentations 

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.

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.

CSDS Conference 2021 – Amsterdam

The Centre for Sustainable Development Studies held their third conference in January 2021 on Critical Perspectives on Governance by Sustainable Development Goals: Education, Sustainability, and Inclusive Development. The CDDE participated in the faciliation of the conference and in some of the panel discussions. Read more about the conference here.

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