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About the STEPS Centre

The ESRC STEPS Centre (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement centre uniting development studies with science and technology studies. Our cross-cutting work covers agriculture & food; energy & climate change; health & disease and water & sanitation.

In an era of unprecedented change, we are developing a new ‘pathways approach’ to understanding and action on sustainability and development, providing new thinking and practical solutions.

Our work addresses two vital global challenges: linking environmental sustainability with better livelihoods and health for poor people; and helping science and technology work for poverty reduction and social justice.

The STEPS Centre launched in 2006 and is based at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex in the UK.

Prof Ian Scoones (IDS) is Director of the STEPS Centre, and Prof Andy Stirling (SPRU) is its Co-Director.

Partnerships and funding

In 2015-16, STEPS launched the Pathways to Sustainability Global Consortium with hubs in Africa, Latin America, North America, South Asia, China and Europe.

We work with a network of research partners around the world and are funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

We are also a partner in the Green Economy Coalition and Future Earth.

Our aims

  • Address global challenges through interdisciplinary research projects which bring together development studies and science and technology studies
  • Develop a theoretical pathways approach to understanding interactions between social, technological and environmental dynamics in diverse local conditions
  • Link new theory with practical solutions by devising a suite of tools and methods to create more sustainable, socially just and favourable conditions for the poor
  • Influence policy and generate new debate by engaging with diverse local and global audiences to help make change happen
  • Train a generation of junior researchers, Masters’ students, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in the STEPS Centre’s concepts, methods and approaches