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Closing statement

Dear CCS friends and colleagues,

As of September 2010 I will be taking up a new position as Professor of Development Studies in the Department of International Development, here at LSE. Sadly, this marks the end of my directorship of the Centre for Civil Society, and also, with no successor available, the closure of the Centre for Civil Society at the LSE. However, I will continue to work on civil society from my new home at LSE, carrying out research and organising workshops and events.

As many of you know, the Centre for Civil Society has a long history at the LSE. It was established at LSE by Professor David Billis and Professor Margaret Harris as the Centre for Voluntary Organisation and pioneered the MSc programme on Voluntary Sector Organisation. With the appointment of Dr David Lewis in 1995 (now Professor of Social Policy andDevelopment in the Department of Social Policy), the Centre initiated the first specialist MSc programme in NGOs and Management.

Following Professor Billis' retirement in 1997, Dr Helmut Anheier took up the post of Director in 1999 and presided over the renaming of theCentre as the Centre for Civil Society. Dr Anheier left in 2002 to take up a professorship at the University of California, Los Angeles, leaving Dr Lewis to hold the reins as Acting Director.

With my appointment in 2003 the Centre has taken on an increasingly international flavour, reflected not least in the re-naming of the MSc programme as NGOs and Development. Dr Armine Ishkanian, currently Director of the MSc programme, has played a central role inmaintaining the international reputation of the course. The flagship project of the Centre was the ESRC Non-governmental Public Action (NGPA) programme, which involved 37 international projects all over the world.

The programme was distinct in several ways – its pioneering promotion of comparative work across the North and South; its embrace of a broad range of non-governmental public action that went beyond NGOs and voluntary sector organisations; and its commitment to bringing theory and practice together, not least through the Practitioner Fellowship Scheme.

Apart from the NGPA programme the Centre has hosted a range of research projects ontopics such as civil society and gender; post-conflict reconciliation and civil society; the Waron Terror, civil society and aid; civil society in Central Asia; humanitarianism and civil society. Its associates, staff and visiting fellows have researched civil society issues across many countries, including the UK, China, Uganda, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, India, Central Asia.

The Centre's lunch-time seminar series, public debates and workshops have attracted substantial numbers of researchers, practitioners and policy-makers over the years. The Centre has also been home to several PHD students, who in recent years have established a PHD civil society network across LSE. In a nutshell the Centre has been the hub of considerable research and practical activity.

With the Centre closing, the website will unfortunately close too from October 2010. However the contents of the website will be held in archive form. Please refer to the links provided on this page to direct you to the further resources available. The ESRC NGPA website| and the GWOT website| will remain active.

I am hugely grateful to the sterling support of the current Centre Manager, Jane Schiemann,who has worked for the Centre since 1991 and Maria Schlegel and Christine Whyte, who have played important administrative roles in various aspects of the Centre during my Directorship. There are many people who have played an active role in the life of the Centre during my directorship and have made it an enormous pleasure for me to direct the Centre. It is impossible to name them all but particular thanks are due to Nick Deakin, Richard Fries, Jeremy Lind, Siobhan Daly, Ben Jones and Nisrine Mansour.

So finally I should like to thank all of you for making it such a pleasure and honour to direct the Centre over the last seven years. I hope we can continue to find ways of working together in the future.

With warm wishes,

Professor Jude Howell j.a.howell@lse.ac.uk|