Rural Futures

Through our research, policy engagement, teaching and training, we support the emergence of development pathways that deliver both greater social justice and sustainability for rural people and places, while recognising their important interconnections with urban areas and the links between local change processes and those at national and global levels.

Rural societies, economies and areas face challenges and opportunities that can be qualitatively different from their urban analogues, including limited access to infrastructure, services and political decision-making and greater exposure to some kinds of environmental shocks and stresses.

Many possible rural futures can be envisaged, each carrying implications for local livelihoods, poverty and social relations, conflict, migration, production and distribution systems, food security, natural resource management and environmental change.

We believe that improvements in social justice and sustainability can be achieved by opening up a diversity of economic, environmental and technological pathways, practices, models and institutional arrangements that create new democratic spaces, strengthen social movements, enhance innovation and empower rural men, women and young people to take greater control over their productive assets.

The aspirations, agency, voices and assets of rural people must be central to these dynamic processes. The empowerment of people in rural areas who are poor and vulnerable are central to our concerns.


Adinda Van Hemelrijck

Postgraduate Researcher

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Amber Huff

Research Fellow

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Amy Warmington

Senior Project Support Officer

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Carolina Szyp

Research Officer

Image of Dirk Willenbockel
Dirk Willenbockel

Research Fellow

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Dominic Glover

Research Fellow

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Elise Wach

Research Advisor

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Gabriele Köhler

Honorary Associate



Just Food? A Mutual Exchange Network on Just Food System Transitions

This action-research project will establish a mutual exchange network on just food system transition including food system actors from four usually unconnected geographies. This will be a space for dialogue, exchange and learning between local food system actors working and advocating for...


Unlocking the Potential for Future India-UK Trade and Development

This is a 3-year project, funded by UK Economic and Social Research council (ESRC). The project will run from 2021-24, in partnership with the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) at University of Sussex, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), and the Centre for Development economics at the...

Recent work


Youth and the Rural Economy in Africa


How do young people across Africa engage with the rural economy? And what are the implications for how they build livelihoods and futures for themselves, and for rural areas and policy?

24 May 2021