Cities have a distinctive role in development processes: they are focal points for economic growth, jobs and innovation but also for poverty, inequality, vulnerability and conflict. Although we can learn from historical processes of urbanisation, there are many new development elements to understand on how cities play a role in these processes, and what it means to be living in a city in the 21st century.

Our research focuses on the circumstances of poor and vulnerable people and explores ways in which different forms of inequalities interact to produce both good and bad outcomes for people in cities. It maintains a focus on rights and social justice through explorations of the boundaries between the formal-informal, legal-illegal, and of urban social movements and forms of association. There is a strong commitment to working and understanding from the ‘bottom-up’ and for finding ways to engage with people and organisations that work directly with and for city people.

Related Research

Current IDS research explores a wide range of issues in cities and on the role of cities in contemporary development processes, which includes:

  • The emergence of new patterns and forms of poverty and vulnerability
  • Urban governance and livelihoods
  • New forms of association and political action
  • The role of ICTs
  • Concerns for sustainable development
  • The peri-urban space
  • The transmissions of diseases
  • Habitat III and The New Urban Agenda


The Cities Cluster are members of the following:

Key contacts

Image of Jaideep Gupte
Jaideep Gupte

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Co-Leader

+44 (0)1273 915656

Image of Dolf te Lintelo
Dolf te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Co-Leader

+44 (0)1273 915767



Image of Jaideep Gupte
Jaideep Gupte

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Co-Leader

Image of Dolf te Lintelo
Dolf te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Co-Leader

Image of Anuradha Joshi
Anuradha Joshi

Cluster Leader

Image of Deborah Shenton
Deborah Shenton

Hub Manager

Image of Eric Kasper
Eric Kasper

Research Fellow

Image of Gordon McGranahan
Gordon McGranahan

Research Fellow

Image of Inka Barnett
Inka Barnett

Research Fellow

Image of Jas Vaghadia
Jas Vaghadia

Senior Project Support Officer

Image of Jean-Pierre Tranchant
Jean-Pierre Tranchant

Research Fellow

Image of Linda Waldman
Linda Waldman

Director of Teaching and Learning

Image of Lyla Mehta
Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Image of Michaelle Tauson
Michaelle Tauson

DPhil student

Image of Mireille Widmer
Mireille Widmer

PhD Student

Image of Poppy Bardwell
Poppy Bardwell

Project Support Officer

Image of Rachel Sabates-Wheeler
Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Research Fellow

Image of Rajith Lakshman
Rajith Lakshman

Research Officer

Image of Roger Williamson
Roger Williamson

Visiting Fellow

Sadaf Khan

Post Doctoral Researcher

Image of Terry Cannon
Terry Cannon

Research Fellow

Tina Nelis

Learning Coordinator

Image of Youkang Chin
Youkang Chin

Study Fellow



Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities (SDIC)

The “Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities” (SDIC) project aims strengthen technical and institutional capacities by working directly with municipal authorities participating in the Smart Cities Mission in four secondary cities in India: Bhopal and Jabalpur (in Madhya...

Recent work

Working Paper

School Feeding or General Food Distribution? Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Educational Impacts of Emergency Food Assistance during Conflict in Mali

Published by UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti

We rely on a unique pre-crisis baseline and five-year follow-up to investigate the effects of emergency school feeding and general food distribution (GFD) on children's schooling during conflict in Mali. We estimate programme impact on child enrolment, absenteeism and attainment by combining...

1 June 2018