Revolutionizing Development: Reflections on the Work of Robert Chambers

Published on 16 May 2011

This book tells the story of development studies in practice over the last 50 years through the work of one remarkable individual – Robert Chambers. His work has taken him from being a colonial officer in Kenya through training and managing large rural development projects to a fundamental critique of top-down development and the championing of participatory approaches.

This image has four covers of the same book Revolutionising Development

The contributors eloquently demonstrate how he has been at the centre of major shifts in development thinking and practice over this period, popularising terms that are now at the centre of the development lexicon such as vulnerability, multi-dimensional poverty, sustainable livelihoods and “farmer first”. Robert Chambers played a major role in the massive growth in participatory approaches to development, and particularly the application of participatory methods in development research and appraisal.

This has led to fundamental challenges to development practice, ranging from approaches to monitoring and evaluation to institutional learning and professional training. There is probably no-one who has had more influence on approaches to development in the past decades.

Revolutionizing Development book offers a unique overview of these contributions in 32 concise chapters from authors who have been intimately involved as collaborators, critics and colleagues of Robert Chambers.

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New foreword

This book contains a new foreword by IDS Director Melissa Leach.

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Launch event

There is a special event on Wednesday 27 April to re-launch the book and discuss its implications. In a forward-looking spirit, the editors and many of the original contributors will reflect on the current relevance of Robert’s contributions in their particular area, and how this needs to be built on for the future. Following initial inputs in-person and online, we will open up to discussion, aiming to chart new possibilities for a re-cast development and development studies.

Cite this publication

Cornwall, A. and Scoones, I. (Eds) (2011) Revolutionizing Development Reflections on the Work of Robert Chambers, London: Routledge


Honorary Associate

Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

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Publication details

published by
Cornwall, A. and Scoones, I.
978 1 84971 330 6


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