From Data to Dialogue: My experience at the LSE "Knowledge Beyond Boundaries" Conference


Sonakshi Saha, along with Sofia Garcia Durrer and Maria Paula Pineros, master's students at the Hertie School, presented their research at LSE's annual interdisciplinary student research conference "Knowledge Beyond Boundaries", part of the LSE Festival 2024 “Power and Politics.”

Student blog post written by Sonakshi Saha, master’s student at the Hertie School.

Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to present my research at the LSE Knowledge Beyond Boundaries Conference as a part of the LSE Festival 2024 “Power and Politics”. As an MPP student at the Hertie School in Berlin and a member of the CIVICA alliance, LSE invited my fellow students and me from partner universities to this conference gathering, which included some of the brightest minds pursuing their undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees dedicated to pushing the frontiers of knowledge and addressing the most pressing issues of our time. 

The conference began with an opening speech from the organisers, setting the tone for a series of thought-provoking discussions. The "Knowledge Beyond Boundaries" theme resonated deeply with my work. I, along with Sofia Garcia Durrer and Maria Paula Pineros, focused our research on the impact of capital-centric economic policies in India and Colombia, examining how these policies have exacerbated inequality and affected marginalised groups. As a researcher from a developing nation, I was eager to share insights from my work and learn from the diverse presentations lined up for the conference. 

My presentation delved into the economic trajectories of India and Colombia, highlighting how globalisation and liberalisation policies have led to significant financial growth and increased inequality. I emphasised the disparity in wealth distribution and the underinvestment in human capital, particularly in health and education. 

To illustrate my points, we created an infographic video showing that in India, the wealthiest 1% now own 53% of the country's wealth, while the bottom 50% struggle with just 4.1%. Similarly, in Colombia, the top 10% of the population holds a substantial portion of the national income, reflecting similar patterns of inequality. The audience was particularly interested in how these economic policies have disproportionately affected indigenous peoples, rural communities, and lower socio-economic classes in both countries.  For instance, in India, the lack of access to quality education and healthcare in rural areas has perpetuated the cycle of poverty. In Colombia, the displacement of indigenous communities due to large-scale mining operations has led to social unrest. These issues have sparked significant social movements and civil rights efforts. 

Simultaneously, throughout the LSE campus, my fellow researchers presented their work on topics covering power and politics.  Post each presentation, the floor was opened for questions, and the engagement from the audience was enlightening and very encouraging. One of the most thought-provoking questions came from a fellow researcher who asked about the potential for policy reforms to address these inequalities and shared her insights. We discussed the need for more significant investment in human capital, particularly in health and education, to create more inclusive economic growth. Some of the potential policy reforms we considered included increasing public spending on healthcare and education, implementing progressive taxation, and promoting inclusive economic policies. 

One of the most significant takeaways from the conference was the sense of unity and shared purpose among the attendees. Whether it's economic inequality in India, social unrest in Colombia, or similar issues in other parts of the world, a common thread ties these experiences together. The discussions reinforced that addressing these issues requires a holistic approach, considering economic policies and their social implications. 

Another important lesson was the value of diverse perspectives. The conference brought together researchers, policymakers, and practitioners from various backgrounds, each contributing unique insights and solutions. This diversity enriched the discussions and opened up new avenues for collaboration and research. 

Reflecting on my experience at the LSE Knowledge Beyond Boundaries Conference, I am more motivated than ever to continue my research, which is in its nascent stages. The feedback and insights I received, such as the potential for policy reforms to address inequalities and the importance of diverse perspectives, have provided me with new directions to explore. Particularly, I am now considering gathering more comprehensive data on health and democracy to strengthen my analysis. The conference also reminded me to be open to new ideas, that research is an evolving process, and that suggestions are crucial for growth and impact. 

Presenting at the LSE Knowledge Beyond Boundaries Conference was a great learning experience for me and my team. It allowed me to thrive in teamwork and share my research with a global audience and provided me with invaluable feedback and new perspectives. The interactions and discussions underscored the importance of addressing inequality through inclusive policies and the need for ongoing research to inform these efforts. 

As we progress, I remain committed to deepening my understanding of these complex issues and contributing to the global economic and social development dialogue. The journey continues, and I am excited about future discoveries and collaborations. 

I extend my gratitude to the organizers of the LSE conference, our mentor, Dr. Brenda López Cabrera, and CIVICA for this opportunity. The insights gained and the connections made are invaluable. I am also open to collaboration and welcome any questions or suggestions to enhance this research. 


CIVICA students attending the LSE Student Research Conference in June 2024.