Department of Development Studies

Professor Michael Jennings

Key information

Department of Development Studies Professor of Global Development Centre of African Studies Management Committee Member Research Cluster Convenor Departmental Director of Doctoral Studies
BA (Oxon); MA, PhD (London)
Russell Square: College Buildings
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+44(0) 207 898 4268
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Michael started his academic research career in the discipline of history, with degrees from the University of Oxford and SOAS University of London, specialising in the history of development in sub-Saharan Africa. In moving to the Centre for Development Studies at Swansea University he shifted his research and teaching into social science global development studies. His work has continued to straddle history and social science global development, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

Michael is a former Head of the Department of Development Studies, as well as former member of the SOAS Executive Board and SOAS Board of Trustees. He was Chair of the Centre of African Studies, and sat on the management committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation/SOAS Governance for Development in Africa initiative. He is a member of the ESRC and AHRC peer review colleges, and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Eastern African Studies.

Alongside his research, he was worked on policy- and impact-focused research with NGOs and other organisations engaged in development; and is a regular contributor of opinion pieces and analysis in global media outlets. He is a former Trustee of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, and is a current Council member of the Development Studies Association. Michael is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Senior Fellow of the HEA.

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Research interests

Michael's research examines the politics and history of development processes, politics and governance in sub-Saharan Africa. It is focused around three, intertwined, strands: (1) the politics of global and local non-state actors (including NGOs and informal development organisations) in development and welfare; (2) the role and impact of religion and religious-linked institutions in global development; and (3) global health, health governance and systems and health care and services. His research embraces political and historical approaches to global development with particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa, through which he engages with the emergence and evolution of development narratives and understandings, the way they shape current policy, practice and theory, and conflicts between different and competing narratives and worldviews about what development is and should be. He is interested in the multiple roles in which 'development' as a process and idea takes on; and synergies between power, politics, and development in the global South and global North.

Michael welcomes new PhD applications in the areas of his research: Non-state actors (NGOs, civil society, faith-based and community-based) and global development in Africa; religion and development; and global health and development; as well as the wider politics and history of aid and development in sub-Saharan Africa.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Hinni Aarninsalo
Jonathan R. Beloff The Evolution of Rwandan Foreign Policy: from Genocide to Globalisation
Mr Nick Branson Extraversion strategies and aid negotiations: How African hybrid regimes manage donor demands
Iris Lim Experiencing the Digital Governance Immigration: a Qualitative Comparison of London and Seoul
Shona Macleod Talibés who beg in urban Senegal: how does global child rights discourse influence policy and practice?
Dr Christine Singer
Dilys K. Winterkorn The Rise and Phenomena of African Philanthropy (working title)


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