Crossing a swollen river in the Sunderbans, India. Credit: STEPS Centre

The ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre carries out interdisciplinary global research uniting development studies with science and technology studies to reduce poverty and bring about social justice. We explore sustainability challenges in particular places and communities from across the world to create better livelihoods and health outcomes for poor and marginalised people by opening up different pathways to sustainable development.

Our pathways approach links theory, research methods and practice to highlight and open up the politics of sustainability – from local action to global policy and governance.

Our work combines diverse perspectives and methods and covers areas as diverse as anthropology, medicine, development studies and science & technology studies.

We work closely with local partners – ranging from activists to policy makers – to help shape the questions we ask and we work hard to share our answers and learning so that it can benefit other communities facing similar challenges.

We aim to:

  • 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 theories 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 new generation of junior researchers, Masters’ students, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in the STEPS Centre’s concepts, methods and approaches.

We are hosted at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex. Our research team in the UK is also drawn from the School of Global Studies at Sussex.

In 2015-16, STEPS launched the Pathways to Sustainability Global Consortium with hubs in Africa, Latin America, North America, South Asia, China and Europe. The Global Consortium builds on long term partnerships with academic centres in each region.

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

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

Photo credits here