Pandemic Politics

This is one of a series of Stories of Change from the ESRC STEPS Centre.

From avian flu and Ebola to the Covid-19 pandemic, STEPS research uncovered the controversies and politics of disease outbreaks and global health.

Understanding epidemics

The STEPS Centre’s research on epidemics goes back to 2007, with research on avian influenza (H5N1).

Like Covid-19 and Ebola, avian flu is a zoonotic disease — emerging through contact of humans with animals. This means that responses needed to look not just at caring for human patients, but at the changing ways that birds are kept and farmed, and food is produced. It means that vets, doctors, scientists, farmers, politicians, consumers and international agencies were all involved in different ways.

The aim was to understand the policies and politics around avian flu, the assumptions made and how debates are framed by different people. Who would win and lose from different responses to avian flu, and could these be crafted in a way that could cope with uncertainty and surprise?

Avian Influenza: Science, Policy and Politics

lessons from ebola

learning from anthropology

A screenshot of the ERAP website.

Find out more

COVID-19: Resources and research on epidemics and pandemics

Stories of Change

From 2006-2021, the ESRC STEPS Centre explored pathways to sustainability – showing the important roles that marginalised ideas, knowledge and forms of action could play in responding to complex social, technological and environmental challenges.

In this process, we were involved in many process of change, from local struggles to high-level international debates. These Stories of Change explore some key themes from STEPS work, to share what we learned.

Read more stories