Past Event

Sussex Development Lectures

Why embracing uncertainty means rethinking development

14 October 2021 17:00–18:30


This lecture makes the argument for putting uncertainty at the centre of thinking and practice in development. This means rejecting a linear, technocratic framing and embracing the implications of uncertainty for today’s complex, dynamic world. Through a number of examples – from the fields of banking, critical infrastructures and disease control – the elements of new thinking on uncertainty and development are explored.

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The lecture argues, however, that those who live with and from uncertainty day-to-day are best placed to innovate and help refashion development more broadly. Drawing from the PASTRES programme, examples from pastoralism from around the world are offered to demonstrate the importance learning from the margins. The lecture concludes with a reflection on new directions for development that take uncertainty seriously and help refashion the way we imagine the future.



  • Peter Taylor, Director of Research at the Institute of Development Studies

Further information

Resources and research on uncertainty in relation to sustainability and development is available from the ESRC STEPS Centre Uncertainty series. Stories and images exploring how pastoralists understand, experience and respond to uncertainty are also available on

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