Research in Development

Nairobi cityscape - capital city of Kenya

Our research centres around three core areas related to:

  • Science technology and Innovation;
  • Asian drivers in African development;
  • Equity, Health and Human wellbeing (a grouping of research and policy interests related particularly to human and policy aspects of development).

Our staff have a wide range of expertise, working across disciplines including development, politics, economics, geography, sociology, science, technology and innovation studies, but with a common focus on contemporary international development policy and practice.

Engaging with the wider world

Our interdisciplinary research approach is wholly inclusive and co-developed with beneficiaries and users at community, national, international and global levels.

Beyond academia, we have established long term in-country and regional partnerships with policymakers in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and India.

Female Factory Worker Walking with Her Supervisor at a Factory in Zambia.

We are committed to promoting all aspects of international development. Our MSc in Global Development was created to equip students with the knowledge and skills to investigate, understand, and respond to key development challenges. We also offer a Postgraduate Certificate in Global Development Management (hosted on FutureLearn) which has been developed to strengthen the ability of policy makers and managers to bring about positive change and enhance practical development management skills.

How we work with others

We recognise the importance of collaboration within our discipline. We believe in nurturing existing partnerships and developing new ones to undertake world-class and innovative research. We are closely linked to more than 50 universities worldwide, including institutions based in the Global South, and collaborate with over 400 other partners, from the private and NGO sectors, multilateral agencies and policy bodies in more than 24 countries. We are currently supporting international development staff through free, online courses such as Save the Children’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning programme, and Nesta’s DIY Toolkit. We have also developed a new BBC World Service series on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Project 17, and worked with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to deliver a new Safeguarding course.

Our publications

We have several widely respected publications that unpack cutting-edge issues and help advance the debate with innovative ideas and approaches. We believe research should be as accessible to as many people as possible – you can read some of our publications for free via publishers’ websites and via the Open University’s Open Research Online collection.

Our academics and research degree students are on the editorial boards of twenty-eight peer reviewed journals. In addition, they contribute editorially towards several books and journals, some of which are listed below:

Review of African Political Economy
The European Journal of Development Research
Innovation and Development
International Development Planning Review
Science as Culture
Technology Analysis and Strategic Management
Kaplinsky, R. (2021) Sustainable Futures: An Agenda for Action, Oxford: Polity Press
Prof Theo Papaioannou (2018) Inclusive Innovation for Development: Meeting the Demands of Justice through Public Action, Routledge
Prof Giles Mohan (2018) Lived Experiences of Multiculture: The New Social and Spatial Relations of Diversity, Routledge
Dr Marino, Alessandra (2015). Acts of Angry Writing. Series in Citizenship Studies. Wayne State University Press.

Recent BBC Collaborations

Drawing our research expertise in international development, policy and practice, DPP members also act as academic consultants on high-profile BBC television and radio programmes, some of which are listed below.

Project 17 promotional logo
Project 17

Prof Giles Mohan

image of a woman with hands over her face crying
Why Slavery

Prof Helen Yanacopulos and Dr Avi Boukli

Still from the film Solar Mamas
Why Poverty

Prof Helen Yanacopulos

Selected current projects

Re-orienting development: the dynamics and effects of Chinese infrastructure investment in Europe (REDEFINE)
Iconic building in Berlin

REDEFINE is a 5-year, €2.5 million project funded by the European Research Council which started in November 2020. It is examining what China’s rise means for how we understand global development and, specifically, Europe’s place in it.

astrobiologyOU logo

A £6.7m investment from Research England in OU’s Astrobiology research group has enabled transdisciplinary collaborations at the OU and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences academics from the School of Social Sciences and Global Studies are participating in the International Development and Inclusive Innovation workstream.

Innovation for Cancer Care in Africa
Innovation for Cancer Care in Africa logo

Innovation for Cancer Care in Africa (ICCA) is an East Africa-India-UK research collaboration led by The Open University, investigating ways to link innovation in the industrial and health sectors to improve access to cancer care in Kenya and Tanzania.

The support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (UK) is gratefully acknowledged. ICCA is funded by the ESRC under the Global Challenges Research Fund Inclusive Societies initiative.

Inclusive Societies: Migration for Inclusive African Growth
Photo of displaced families in Macedonia

Significant growth in African economies has prompted more migrants to move to, and within, African countries. This project explores the impact this migration is having on growth and how it can be more sustainable and inclusive.

Theorising Inclusive Innovation for Development
photo of boys and grandmother at a water pump in Ban Muang Kao, Thailand

The aim of this project is to theorise a notion of justice in innovation, defending principles of equity, recognition and participation as bottom-up principles generated through public action and campaigning.

Find out more

You can find out more about what is going on in Development Policy and Practice by following us on Twitter and reading our news updates. Don’t forget to sign up to our monthly e-newsletter. You will receive monthly news updates and invitations to our packed series of engaging events.

Discover our individual researchers and team of academics here.

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