SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Our impact on our regions

Research from the Department of Development Studies has long been in demand by UN organizations and southern governments seeking alternatives to mainstream approaches to development. In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, SOAS research has increasingly influenced the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

Our research has eight focal points: (1) Globalization, Governance and Neo-Liberalism; (2) Labour, Social Movements and Development; (3) Agrarian Change, Rural Labour and Institutions; (4) Violence, Peace and Development; (5) Migration, Mobility and Development; (6) Agriculture and Health

Who we work with

Through our research clusters we work with:
• international organizations (including UN agencies, the World Bank, NATO, ILO)
• the governments of poor countries (including Ethiopia, Malawi, Argentina, Vietnam)
• European governments (including UK, France, Norway)
• African public sector officials, trade unionists, NGO members and young researchers
• the wider public, trade unionists and NGOs

Working with international organizations

Dr Jeff Waage, Director of the London International Development Centre, has contributed significantly to The Lancet Commission on the Millennium Development Goals.  Carlos Oya, Reader in the Political Economy of Development, worked alongside the Gambian Bureau of Statistics, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank to design a nationally-representative Rural Labour force survey. Guy Standing, Professor of Development Studies, is involved in a four year project on Basic Income Schemes and the Indian Poor in collaboration with India's Self-employed Association and financed by UNICEF. Jonathan Goodhand, Professor in Conflict and Development Studies, gave policy advice and prepared a background paper for the World Bank on how to incorporate a borderland perspective into the development programming.

Working with the governments of developing countries

Christopher Cramer, Professor of the Political Economy of Development, together with Mushtaq Khan, Professor of Economics, addressed the entire Ethiopian cabinet in June 2013 on agricultural policy and on industrial policy respectively. The meeting was arranged by French development agency AND.

Influencing policy in European countries

Research by Laura Hammond, Reader in Development feeds into the work of the UK’s Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI)—which she also currently chairs—which reports to the Chief Inspector of the UK Borders and Immigration. Professor Goodhand was an expert witness on Afghanistan for the UK House of Commons Select Committee for Development and the Foreign Affairs Committee. He also briefed Foreign Secretary David Milliband on Afghanistan and provided ongoing briefings for NATO on development in the country. Members of the Department are on a variety of international research panels, including the Norwegian Government, Academy of Finland, Swiss National Science Foundation and in the UK the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for International Development (DFID). Professor Goodhand co-led a NORAD-funded evaluation of Norway's role in the Sri Lankan peace process -- which fed into broader Ministry of Foreign Affairs policy on peacebuilding and included a briefing to the Minister for Development and the Environment. Professor Cramer also led a commissioned study on the Cost Effectiveness of Conflict Prevention for the DFID. And as part of the Future Agricultures Consortium, our researchers have contributed to DFID’s work on the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

Building capacity for development in Africa

Researchers from the department are central to curriculum design and in teaching at the African Programme on Rethinking Development Economies (APORDE) annual residential schools, delivering high level training for public sector officials, trade unionists, NGO members and African early-career researchers. Our experts provide the core teaching faculty of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation/SOAS Governance for Development in Africa programme residential schools, held in a different African city each year [read the testimonials to its impact]; and our staff have helped to design and deliver courses for the new African School of Leadership, based in the Soweto campus of the University of Johannesburg and initially teaching a cohort of more than 80 Southern African parliamentarians.

Informing public opinion, trade unions and NGOs

The work of Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development and International Relations, on the Arabs and the holocaust and on the roots of the Arab revolutionary process has had a major impact in the media and on public discourse, especially in France and the Middle East (read more...); and the expertise of Tim Pringle, Senior Lecturer in Labour, Social Movements and Development, in trade unions in China has influenced UK trade unions as well as Hong Kong-based labour NGOs.