Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre carries out interdisciplinary global research uniting development studies with science and technology studies to reduce poverty and bring about social justice.

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Centre logo

The STEPS Centre is hosted in the UK by the Institute of Development Studies and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex. Its main funding is from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council.

STEPS works as part of a Global Consortium with hubs in Africa, China, Europe, Latin America, North America and South Asia. 

The centre aims to:

  • Address global challenges through interdisciplinary research projects which bring together development studies and science and technology studies
  • Develop a theoretical pathways approach to understanding interactions between social, technological and environmental dynamics in diverse local conditions
  • Link new theories with practical solutions by devising a suite of tools and methods to create more sustainable, socially just and favourable conditions for the poor
  • Influence policy and generate new debate by engaging with diverse local and global audiences to help make change happen
  • Train a new generation of junior researchers, Masters’ students, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in the STEPS Centre’s concepts, methods and approaches.
Photo of Dominic Glover More details

More details

Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

Photo of Hayley MacGregor More details

Photo of Ian Scoones, Research Fellow More details

Photo of Jeremy Allouche, IDS research fellow More details

Photo of John Thompson, a Research Fellow in the IDS Rural Futures research cluster More details

Photo of Linda Waldman, KNOTS Research Fellow More details

Marina Apgar photo More details

Photo of Melissa Leach, IDS Director More details

Photo of Nathan Oxley, Communications Assistant, STEPS Centre More details

Parveen Mungroo photo More details

Photo of Vivienne Benson, Administrator, Globalisation Team More details

‘Seeing’ Conflicts at the Margins: Understanding Community Experiences Through Social Research and Digital Narrative in Kenya and Madagascar

In a context of unprecedented investment in natural resource developments, this project bridges the social sciences, the humanities and community-based participatory research to ask how different ‘communities’ of actors ‘see’ and experience resource conflicts in Kenya and Madagascar. We use social science alongside a variety of participatory multimedia methods to open up conflict research to more diverse framings and voices, which can offer new insights on the drivers of resource conflict and pathways to peace. More details

Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures)

GroFutures is a 4-year interdisciplinary research project aiming to develop the scientific basis and participatory management processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Changing health and welfare in China and the UK

The project looks at the changing role of state and non-government actors in providing social services in China’s rapidly evolving welfare regime, and aims to promote mutual learning between officials and researchers in China and the UK. Despite historical, social and institutional differences, there is a degree of similarity in strategies emerging. More details

Transitions to Agroecological Food Systems

This project will examine potential pathways for transitioning to more sustainable food systems in order to contribute to improved ecological, economic, social and nutritional outcomes. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium

A STEPS-led consortium of researchers aiming to advance understanding of the connections between disease and environment in Africa, focusing on animal-to-human disease transmission.. More details

Market-Based Mangrove Afforestation and Reforestation in Kenya and India

This study aims to understand and compare processes and relationships associated with the ‘marketization of nature’ – how nature-based commodities and markets for trading them are brought into being – in the context of mangrove afforestation, reforestation and restoration projects in Kenya and India. More details


< previous 1 2 3 4 5 next >
Non-IDS publication

Improving Technology Transfer Through National Systems Of Innovation: Climate Relevant Innovation-System Builders (CRIBs)

The Technology Executive Committee (TEC) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently convened a workshop seeking to understand how strengthening national systems of innovation (NSIs) might help to foster the transfer of climate technologies to developing countries. More details

Credit: Panos / Robin Hammond

Narratives of Scarcity: Framing the Global Land Rush

Geoforum 2018 (2018)

Global resource scarcity has become a central policy concern, with predictions of rising populations, natural resource depletion and hunger. The narratives of scarcity that arise as a result justify actions to harness resources considered ‘underutilised’, leading to contestations over rights and entitlements and producing new scarcities. More details

Non-IDS publication

Freebook: Pathways to Health and Sustainability

This is a Free Book available to download from the publisher. This new collection draws on four books in the series, together addressing three themes central to understanding how pathways to sustainability emerge in response to health and disease challenges. More details

Teaser for Making the Most of Peri-Urban Ecosystem Services

Making the Most of Peri-Urban Ecosystem Services

Policy and Practice Briefing (2018)

Ecosystem services are vital for peri-urban and urbanising areas, and the people who live within them. In contexts of rapid urbanisation, these services are under threat from redevelopment, pollution and overconsumption, and there are gaps in the policies and structures that should protect them. Despite these challenges, there are opportunities for local authorities and citizens to work together a More details

Teaser image for Governing Food And Agriculture In A Warming World

Governing Food And Agriculture In A Warming World

Global Environmental Politics 18.2 (2018)

Understanding how, why, and whether the trade-offs and tensions around simultaneous implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals are resolved both sustainably and equitably requires an appreciation of power relations across multiple scales of governance. More details

Non-IDS publication

Co-Design With Aligned And Non-Aligned Knowledge Partners: Implications For Research And Coproduction Of Sustainable Food Systems

We discuss two different strategies to initiate a process of identifying a focused sustainability challenge, and co-defining and co-designing alternative pathways to more sustainable food systems. More details

Non-IDS publication

Double Coupling: Modeling Subjectivity And Asymmetric Organization In Social-Ecological Systems

Social-ecological organization is a multidimensional phenomenon that combines material and symbolic processes. More details

Non-IDS publication

Promoting Agency For Social-Ecological Transformation: A Transformation-Lab In The Xochimilco Social-Ecological System

Ecology and Society (2018)

Experiments to create spaces for social-ecological transformation are multiplying. These experiments aim at transcending traditional spaces for rational deliberation, planning, and participatory decision-making. More details

Teaser image for Companion to Environmental Studies

Uncertainty in Environmental Studies

Companion to Environmental Studies (2018)

Threats to climate, biodiversity, soils, air and water join long-standing issues of poverty and vulnerability in demanding urgent action. Radical transformations are required in global institutions and infrastructures for provision of energy, food, water, mobility and livelihoods. More details

A teaser for Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation in Urbanising Contexts

Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation in Urbanising Contexts

Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (2018)

The world’s urban population is expected to rise from 3.9 to 6.4 billion people between 2014 and 2050, with 90% of this increase in Asia and Africa (UN, 2014). More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Centre logo

Living on the Edge: Climate Change and Uncertainty in the Indian Sundarbans

The Sundarbans is a coastal delta and major climate hotspot located at the southern end of Bangladesh and in the state of West Bengal in India. The delta faces significant climatic and other ecological challenges (e.g. disappearing mangrove forest, islands affected by rising sea levels, erratic rainfall and cyclones). More details

Non-IDS publication

Addressing Climate Change Uncertainty in Dryland Kachchh, India

IDS Policy Briefing (2018)

The semi-arid district of Kachchh in Gujarat, India is known for its erratic rainfall, water scarcity, and droughts. Climate change has intensified extreme temperature and rainfall patterns and also led to changes to the long coastline. These are affecting not only the lives and livelihoods of local people, but also threatening the vibrant ecosystem of Kachchh. More details

Teaser image for Companion to Environmental Studies

Land Grabbing in Environmental Studies

Companion to Environmental Studies (2018)

Land grabbing emerged as a global phenomenon in the period following the global financial crisis of 2007-08. Investors in search of financial returns looked to land across the world, but particularly in parts of Africa and south-east Asia. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Centre logo

The Many Circuits of a Circular Economy

STEPS Working Papers 94 (2017)

Rapid urbanisation in India has led to the development of large urban agglomerations. These urban agglomerations, with dense concentration of population and economic activity, cause significant environmental stresses. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Centre logo

The Social Life of Mangroves: Resource Complexes and Contestations on the Industrial Coastline of Kutch, India

STEPS Working Papers 99 (2017)

In the last few decades, mangroves have attained significant environmental, climatic and therefore economic importance. As environmental assets, they have given rise to different regimes of conservation, valuation and marketisation in various parts of the world. These processes are associated with new relations of power, dispossession and contestation. More details

Teaser image for Power in Practice: Insights from Technography and Actor-Network Theory for Agricultural Sustainability

Power in Practice: Insights from Technography and Actor-Network Theory for Agricultural Sustainability

Power and Practice (2017)

In this paper, we use conceptual insights from two distinct traditions within the social studies of science and technology, namely actor-network theory (ANT) and technography, to explore the relationship between power and the reconfiguration of agricultural practices toward sustainability. More details

Valuing Agroecological Farmers: findings from participatory research on alternative economic approaches to support agroecology in the UK

This paper looks at the potential usefulness of triple bottom line accounting, and also explores other approaches, in financial accounting, for ecological and social outcomes and the effects of different farming methods. It then provides details of the presentations given by three witnesses and a summary of the outcomes of the farmer panel deliberation. More details

Valuing Agroecological Farmers: What Can We Learn From Alternative Economic Approaches to Ensure the Contribution of Agroecological Farmers is Valued Appropriately? Findings From Participatory Research

This paper looks at the potential usefulness of triple bottom line accounting, and also explores other approaches, in financial accounting, for ecological and social outcomes and the effects of different farming methods. It then provides details of the presentations given by three witnesses and a summary of the outcomes of the farmer panel deliberation. More details

Why Access to Land is Vital for Sustainable, Healthy and Fair Food Systems: Strategies for Increasing Access to Land for Agroecological Farming

In partnership between the Institute of Development Studies and the Land Workers’ Alliance, research has been undertaken to identify strategies for increasing access to land for agroecological production, in order to contribute to a transition towards sustainable – or even regenerative – food systems in the UK. This briefing summarises these strategies. More details

Non-IDS publication

Peri-Urbanism in Globalizing India: A Study of Pollution, Health and Community Awareness

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2017)

This paper examines the intersection between environmental pollution and people’s acknowledgements of, and responses to, health issues in Karhera, a former agricultural village situated between the rapidly expanding cities of New Delhi (India’s capital) and Ghaziabad (an industrial district in Uttar Pradesh). More details

< previous 1 2 3 4 5 next >