Environment, people and development
Our research is innovative, transdisciplinary and world-leading.
We focus on the interfaces between environment, people and development. Whether exploring the impact of climate change on the everyday lives of farmers in developing countries, investigating how institutions respond to disasters, or confronting the structural features of underdevelopment, our research addresses fundamental questions about contemporary problems across the world.
We are interested in processes of negotiation, power and politics as understood through economic, social and cultural experiences, and the associated ways in which people make decisions and create meaningful places to live. This has implications for contemporary global debates concerning social differentiation and inequality, ensuring that we have resilient and caring societies, adapting to climate change, and encouraging prosperity.
Our work builds on the long tradition of development research at the University. The Division draws together work from four schools and departments – Agriculture, Economics, Geography and Law – and supports many collaborative projects. With a focus on development issues at the local, national, regional, and international levels, our themes include migration and displacement, climate and disasters, environment and resource sustainability, rights and duties, and institutions and governance.
The Global Development Division is home to many research projects aiming to tackle global challenges and support the delivery of the UN’s sustainable development goals. Some examples include:
Smallholder farmers are key to food security in sub-Saharan Africa, where two thirds of the population depend on small-scale, rain-fed farming as their main source of food and income. But these farmers face high risks and difficult decisions when planning their activities because of highly variable climatic factors such as the amount of rainfall in a growing season, the timing of seasonal changes, and extreme conditions like dry spells and floods.
The PICSA approach links local climate, crop, livestock and livelihood information with participatory planning and decision-making tools for farmers. These tools help them decide the best farming and livelihood options for them, for example when to plant crops.
To date, PICSA has been implemented in 20 countries. More than 2,000 government and NGO extension workers and community volunteers have been trained in the PICSA approach. This includes more than 1,200 farmer promoters in Rwanda, over 350 government extension workers in Malawi, and 75 extension staff in Bangladesh.
Improving security of water supplies in Africa
Secure access by the rural poor to water in Africa is central to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. More than 500 million Africans are dependent on groundwater.
With growing demand for its use, the resilience of aquifers in the face of climate, population growth, and changes in land-use is key to ensuring secure access to water. To address these challenges, the Walker Institute is leading the BRAVE project implementation in Ghana and Burkina Faso.
The programme communicates data provided by the Rainwatch platform and aims to help local communities prepare for the challenges related to climate and water in the coming months. A set of groundwater management tools is also being developed with local communities to address their information needs.
Meet Our Staff
Staff conducting research into Global Development spans four of the University’s schools and departments:
- Agriculture, Policy and Development
Undertaking postgraduate studies in Global Development brings significant opportunities for rich intellectual endeavour and transdisciplinary study.
The Global Development Division cuts across several departments offering doctoral students in affiliated schools the opportunity to benefit from supervision and support from across the Division and to find a home within more than one school within the University, if they so desire. Opportunities for global development doctoral research are available in the four schools from which Division members are drawn.
For specific enquiries, please contact:
Dr Alex Arnall
Research Division Lead
Telephone: +44 (0)118 378 8369