The social life of infectious diseases: a new impact story from STEPS

A new multimedia story, ‘The social life of infectious diseases’ is the first in a new series of impact stories from the STEPS Centre. It traces how our thinking on avian flu, Ebola and other infectious diseases has evolved over the last ten years, and how we have engaged with debates, policy-making and practical action.

Since 2006, we have worked to understand how sustainability can be understood and explored in a changing world – where politics, society and technology never stand still. We have influenced thinking and action, but we have also had to adapt to events as they have unfolded.

The stories in this series will show how our thinking has changed over time, and how we have influenced debates, policy and practice in a number of areas – from low carbon development, Ebola and infectious diseases, controversies around land grabbing, to how innovation and technology can be made more democratic.

Impact and learning

For STEPS, impact is not about us telling other people what to do or how to do it. For every moment where we have had an influence, there are many more where we have learned from others’ insights and had to respond to a fast-changing world. Our aim has been to cultivate long-term relationships with partners in many countries so we can learn together over time and share our collective insights. To do this, we’ve aimed to use impact methodologies that allow us to tap into the knowledge and expertise of a wide group of people.

Our funders (ESRC), our host institutions (IDS and SPRU), our international research partners, and now the STEPS global consortium, have been a vital part of the story. Like most other research centres and programmes, STEPS has never worked alone, and our impact has only been possible through collaborations with people from many different disciplines, perspectives and walks of life. Understanding how to work together and learn from each other has been one of the most important and rewarding challenges of the past 10 years.

Read the impact story

The social life of infectious diseases (

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