Peter Da Costa: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

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The following video, in Peter’s own words, offers an insight into the factors and influences that shaped his life and career:



I always wanted to find out a little bit about how knowledge works and the power dynamics around knowledge. I always felt instinctively that it is an unequal world where science is accepted if it comes from certain parts of the world but that everyone else, including people from where I come from, are recipients of certain types of knowledge and not really actors in actually shaping it. This led me to study philosophy in the university because I wanted to be able to debate on equal terms.

And then I went on to become a journalist because I thought that by being a journalist, I could actually tell the story of communities that generally don’t have a voice. At some point, I discovered that journalism is an imperfect science because you only tell the story on the day that you have the space to tell the story. And on the next day you tell another story. So, do people exist when you are not telling their story?

So, I moved to more of a communication type mode, working with communities with policy actors to try and have more of an interactive engagement, to be informed by what people do and what they say as opposed to just write about them. And that led me into working as a policy communicator as well as getting into research communication.

At some point, I wanted to know more about the evidence so I went and did a PhD in Development Studies and I have been working ever since with research to policy and at the nexus between research and policy influence uptake. So, I find myself in a space where I am constantly working with researchers and also trying to grapple with why research has relevance and ways to make research relevant.