2019 McDonald-Currie Lecture: Lucy Quist

On Tuesday February 12, 2019, ISID hosted Lucy Quist for the 2019 McDonald-Currie Lectures. Quist’s lecture was entitled, “Leading Change from a Global Perspective.” The lecture addressed four key areas: global structures and injustices, the need for diversity in perspectives, courage to lead, and change that is needed globally. Ms. Quist highlighted inequities in global pricing structures as an example of injustices. She also spoke about structural biases in the media’s representations of issues, which gloss over the complexity and interlinked nature of systemic problems. Citing the example of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Quist argued that unjust global pricing structures contribute to a situation where populations such as those in the DRC do not reap the economic benefits of possessing 80% of the world’s Coltan (Columbite-tantalite, which is used in cell phones and laptops). Ironically, the media then portrays such populations and other groups of people, whose poverty stems from structural inequities as in need of charity. Human beings require dignity, and don’t want charity, Quist noted.

Quist urged participants to contribute to addressing such structural injustices by seeking diverse evidence - based perspectives that go beyond the dominant “us” versus “them” rhetoric that the media tends to feed. The need for diversity in perspectives requires greater diversity among people holding leadership positions. Quist provided the example of support that she and colleagues in the Executive Women Network (EWN) in Ghana are providing for gender diversity in leadership positions. Having started with six women leaders networking informally, the organization has grown to about 200 people who provide support for women leaders to bring about change. Quist challenged participants to have the courage to lead by tackling issues beyond their comfort zone and engaging with people who differ from them along various dimensions. In her case, while far from being an expert in football/ soccer, she agreed to participate in FIFA’s Normalization Committee for Ghana Football, and is working with diverse people with backgrounds in law, business, and other domains for improving Ghana’s football sector after it was rocked by a corruption scandal.

Quist concluded her presentation with a call to arms: be deliberate in leading for good. This means showing respect for each human being, irrespective of differences they might have; viewing all humans as equal and deserving of prosperity; and taking bold action to reverse structural biases for enabling all humans to thrive, not just survive. In a Q&A that followed, ISID Professor of Practice, Eliane Ubalijoro engaged Quist in further elaboration of her call to arms. Discussion included the role of university students and researchers in gathering and using data to develop evidence-based research that provides the diversity of perspectives needed for positive change.

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