Institute of Development Studies

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This article is about the institute in England. For the institute in Kolkata, India, see Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata.
Institute of Development Studies
Institute of Development Studies logo.jpg
Abbreviation IDS
Founded 1966
Type research institute
Melissa Leach
Slogan Global Knowledge for Global Change

The Institute of Development Studies is an international development research institute. IDS acts to influence policy makers through research, by working with partner organisations in developing countries, and communicating with international policy makers. IDS is based at the University of Sussex.

The Institute is home to approximately 100 researchers, 40 knowledge services staff, 65 professional staff and about 200 students at any one time.[1] The partnership approach which means IDS works with around 250 partners internationally is designed to help enrich the research process, while at the same time building and enhancing the capacity of all the organisations involved.[2]

According to Hivos, IDS is committed to applying academic skills to real world problems. IDS's purpose is to understand and explain the world, and to try to change it.[3]

History and leadership[edit]

IDS was founded in 1966 by economist Dudley Seers who was director from 1967 until 1972. From 1972 to 1981 Sir Richard Jolly was the director of IDS, and later authored A short history of IDS: a personal reflection. John Toye was Director of IDS from 1987-97.

The current director of IDS is Melissa Leach, a social anthropologist and professorial fellow at IDS, who succeeded Lawrence Haddad in 2014. Prior to her appointment she was Director of the STEPS Centre.[4] Leach's recent work has explored the politics of science and knowledge in policy processes linked to environment and health; cultural and political dimensions of vaccine delivery; medical research trials, emerging infectious diseases, and ecology-health linkages.[5]

Structure and Research[edit]

IDS consists of twelve research clusters or teams which concentrate their research on specific angles of development:

  • Business, Markets and the State – The Business, Markets and the State cluster investigated how and under what conditions businesses and market systems enable or constrain pathways for positive development. Current research includes a Rising Powers programme focusing on the economic growth of the BRICS.
  • Cities – The Cities cluster has a focus on the circumstances of poor and vulnerable people within cities and explores ways in which different forms of inequalities interact to produce both good and bad outcomes.
  • Conflict and Violence – The Conflict and Violence cluster research is developing new insights into how people live and interact in contexts of conflict and violence, and what institutions best support them.
  • Digital – The Digital cluster challenges prevailing technocratic views by highlighting inequalities that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) may cause.
  • Gender and Sexuality – The Gender and Sexuality cluster research looks at factors where people in developing countries are effected by others either persecuting them due to their sexual orientation, beliefs, religion, their gender or social class.
  • Governance - The Governance cluster work on addressing the tensions between political liberalisation and globalisation, tensions between the politics of growth and the politics of equity the potential tensions and synergies between development concerns such as the anti-poverty agenda, and the gender-equity agenda and the environmental protection agenda.
  • Green Transformations - The Green Transformations cluster research looks at the effects and solutions on how developing countries can seek alternatives to declining natural resources. Research prioritises two big changes: From fossil fuel to renewable energy; From throw away to circular economy.
  • Health and Nutrition - The Health and Nutrition cluster pursues programmes of research and policy engagement on health systems, nutrition and understandings of zoonotic diseases.
  • Participation – The Participation Cluster research focuses on issues of systematic social exclusion facing women, people living in extreme poverty, people with disabilities, slaves and bonded labourers and others. By using the participatory approach strongly linked with IDS fellow Robert Chambers to achieve social change. This involves working at all levels of society and with country level partners.
  • Power and Popular Politics – The Power and Popular Politics cluster focuses on ways people protest about and struggle for equality along multi-dimensional axes of discrimination (gender, class, geography, knowledge, ethnicity, sexuality, age and more).
  • Resource Politics – The Resource Politics cluster research looks at the politics of access, use and control of resources as well as contested knowledge claims around these.
  • Rural Futures - The Rural Futures cluster seeks to support the emergence of pathways that deliver both greater social justice and sustainability for rural people and places, while recognising their important interconnections with urban areas.

IDS also hosts a range of Knowledge Services, which aim to ensure that research knowledge can be effectively used in developing countries. IDS hosts BRIDGE, a research centre for gender in development, and Eldis, which aims to provide a platform where up to date research can be shared and easily found by development practitioners. Data from Eldis is available from the Open API developed by IDS Knowledge Services. The British Library of Development Studies at IDS contains Europe’s the largest collection of publications from the global South.[6]


IDS is a registered charity. The top five funders of IDS are:[7]

In 2013 IDS launched a scholarship fund which will fund MA courses.[8]

Teaching and post-graduate courses[edit]

IDS has engaged in teaching since 1973 when the first MPhil course in development began.[9] Currently it teaches at postgraduate and doctorate level and has been awarded accreditation for its teaching programme by the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI). In 2012 IDS was rated the UK's best university affiliated think tank in the Global Go To Think Tank Report 2012 [10] and the third best globally.

There are now 7 MA courses run by IDS:[11]

  • MA Development Studies
  • MA Gender and Development
  • MA Globalisation and Development
  • MA Governance and Development
  • MA Participation, Power and Social Change
  • MA Poverty and Development
  • MSc Climate Change and Development

Notable academics[edit]

Current academics
Sir Richard Jolly, a development economist who has held various positions within the UNDP and OECD, and was awarded honorary fellowship from The International Institute of Social Studies in 2007.

Robert Chambers who has contribution to development for his work in participatory rural appraisal is widely acknowledged.[12]

Ian Scoones is director of the STEPS Centre and is well known for his research into land reform in Zimbabwe.[13]

Stephen Devereux, author of Theories of famine.

Mick Moore, head of the International Centre for Tax and Development

Ben Ramalingam, author of Aid on the Edge of Chaos

Past academics
Bob Baulch - worked for 13 years as a Fellow at IDS for 13 years before joining Prosperity Initiatives in 2008.

Chris Colclough - a Fellow (from 1975), and Professorial Fellow (from 1994)

Stephany Griffith-Jones - has contributed to research and policy suggestions on how to make the domestic and international financial system more stable so it can better serve the needs of inclusive economic development and the real economy.

Susan Joekes - noted for her part in the Women in Development approach.

Naila Kabeer - professor of development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. She will be joining the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics in October 2013.[14]

Simon Maxwell – Worked at IDS for 16 years and now senior research associate at the Overseas Development Institute

Peter Newell – currently a professor at the University of Sussex, specialising in climate change. Co-editor of the European Journal of International Relations, associate editor of the journal Global Environmental Politics and sits on the editorial board of Global Environmental Change, the Journal of Environment and Development and the Journal of Peasant Studies.

Neil McCulloch – Previously a research fellow in IDS Globalisation team. An economist specialising in the analysis of poverty in developing countries and the linkages between poverty and both global and local economic reform. Has led research on the possibilities of the Tobin Tax for development.[15]

Mark Robinson - now the Chief Professional Officer for Governance, social development, conflict and Humanitarian Aid in the UK Department for International Development.

Hans Singer - known for Prebisch-Singer thesis, Bretton Woods

Chris Stevens – currently senior research associate at ODI concentrating on the impacts of Northern policies on the South.

Andy Sumner – Co-Director of the King's International Development Institute at King's College London, who is regarded for his work on the New Bottom Billion which studies the proliferation of poverty in middle income economies.

Robert Wade – currently professor of political economy at London School of Economics. Economist for the World Bank during the 1980s.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]