IDS Director elected as new Fellow of British Academy

Published on 21 July 2017

Director of the Institute of Development Studies, Professor Melissa Leach CBE, has been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in recognition of her significant contributions to research in the social sciences.

The British Academy is the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences – the study of peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future. Its Fellowship comprises around 1,400 leading academics representing the very best of humanities and social sciences research, in the UK and globally.

Professor Leach’s election reflects her outstanding academic record in anthropology, global development and social change. Examples of her work include co-founding and directing the ESRC STEPS Centre, with its pioneering pathways approach to innovation, sustainability and development issues and her leadership of the Ebola Response Anthropology Platform (ERAP) and the related Ebola: lessons for development initiatives, which last year won the prestigious Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Outstanding International Impact Prize for their rapid and effective response to the Ebola epidemic. She was also the lead social scientist in the UK and WHO Ebola scientific advisory committees during 2014-15.

Professor Leach has also made a significant contribution in her international role as vice-chair of the Science Committee of Future Earth, an international research platform to advance Global Sustainability Science; was lead author of the UN Women’s World Survey on the Role of Women in Economic Development 2014 and co-director of the World Social Science Report 2016 ‘Challenging Inequalities: Pathways to a Just World’.  She was also recently appointed to the expert advisory board to support the UK’s Department of Health Global AMR Innovation Fund.  In addition, she is author or editor of over fifteen books and dozens of research papers, and in 1996, her co-authored book Misreading the African Landscape received the Amaury Talbot Prize from the Royal Anthropological Institute for the best book in African Anthropology.

Lord Stern, outgoing President of the British Academy, said:

“Now more than ever, we need research, scholarship and evidence from the humanities and social sciences to inform our understanding and decision-making on the most pressing challenges of our time, from identity and democracy, to sustainable development and overcoming poverty, and managing climate change.”

In response to her election, Professor Leach said:

“I am thrilled and honoured to join this essential body for promoting the humanities and social sciences  in the UK and around the world. I am hugely looking forward to working with other British Academy Fellows to help raise the profile of the social sciences and their importance in tackling the many interconnected and global challenges that we face today.”

Professor Leach joins 66 of the world’s leading minds elected to the Fellowship today. Read more on the British Academy website.

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