Method 3: asking key questions with the Development Compass Rose

The Birmingham Development Education Centre (later TIDE – Teachers in Development Education) developed the Compass Rose to support enquiry into key development issues.

It is a very useful tool for guiding and shaping key research questions and can be of considerable assistance in preparing evidence for a debate etc. The framework encourages us to ask a range of questions about an issue – questions which explore the interrelationship between environmental, social, economic and political issues.

Instead of the traditional North, South, East and West, the four main compass points represent:

N atural/ecological questions

E conomic questions

S ocial and cultural questions

W ho decides? Who benefits? (i.e. political questions)

Apart from the key co-ordinates, the diagonal points highlight the relationship between the four main points. For instance, NE raises questions about how economic activity impacts on the natural world while SW raises questions about the relationship between the social and political dimensions. The diagonal points often raise the most interesting, useful and challenging questions.

To view the full Development Compass Rose framework see this three page document, which may be used in the classroom and in groupwork exercises.