Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of Europe’s leading international research universities. It has seven faculties in the arts, sciences and social sciences, spread over locations in Leiden and The Hague. The University has over 5,500 staff members and 25,800 students. The motto of the University is ‘Praesidium Libertatis’ – Bastion of Freedom.
In addition to its academic endeavour to document, study and analyse indigenous systems of knowledge, belief and practice as the ‘cultural dimension of development’ in the subfields of ethnomedicine, ethnobotany; ethno-pharmacology, ethno-agriculture, ethno-ecology, indigenous bio-cultural diversity management and conservation, integrated microfinance management and culturally appropriate higher education management, the LEAD Programme also seeks to further develop a specific IKS-oriented complementary qualitative and quantitative research methodology, based on the special design and implementation of the ‘Leiden Ethnosystems Approach’. The related advanced analytical model encompasses a stepwise bivariate, multivariate and multiple regression analysis of independent, intervening and dependent variables, focused on the understanding, explanation and prediction of participants’ behaviour in the dynamic transcultural setting of local-global systems interaction in the research areas. In addition to the provision of a contribution to the theoretical and methodological development of applied ethnoscience, LEAD also seeks to contribute to the new paradigm of ‘development from the bottom’ by formulating evidence-based recommendations for alternative strategies ’from the bottom’ for policy planning and implementation of integrated local-global systems with a view to attain truly sustainable community development in the various sectors in the research areas and beyond. In 1990, LEAD received the official recognition and logo of UNESCO as an important research programme of the Decade for Culture and Development.