Summer School

Group discussion outside
Participants stop during a ‘walkshop’ on the South Downs. Photo: Lukas Hermwille

This year’s STEPS Summer School on Pathways to Sustainability took place on 15-26 May 2017.

The Summer School brings together highly-motivated doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, working in fields around development studies, science and technology studies, innovation and policy studies, and across agricultural, health, water or energy issues. The aim is to explore theories, ideas, research methods and practical applications of STEPS thinking on pathways to sustainability.

Through a mix of lectures, walks, discussions and public events, participants challenge the STEPS team and each other on questions of science, society and development.

The summer school has run since 2012 with the generous support of the ESRC, IDRC and UKIERI.

STEPS Annual lecture: Achim Steiner, Monday 15 May

Achim SteinerAchim Steiner, incoming head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), delivered this year’s lecture, entitled: ‘Doomed to fail or bound to succeed? Sustainable Development and the Green Economy Agenda – Revisited’

Storify: STEPS Summer school 2017

Browse the Storify, updated during the Summer School, to see images, quotes and tweets from the course.

Free online course: Pathways to Sustainability

Our STEPS Learning website includes a free online course on Pathways to Sustainability, based on the Summer School. It includes selected reading lists, plus video lectures recorded during the 2015 and 2016 Summer Schools in Brighton.

Visit the STEPS Learning site


STEPS Summer school 2017 testimonials

“Wonderful opportunity. A fantastic group of participants, and the very knowledgable faculty treated us as colleagues on this journey towards sustainable pathways together.” 2014 participant

“Beautiful to have 24 nations in the same room thinking and discussing global to local issues!” 2013 participant

“Academically it enhanced my methodological thinking, professionally, it enhanced my perspectives of career aspirations. Personally, it was very humbling to learn from the multiple talents of the participants.” 2013 participant

“It was challenging, stimulating and also fun, exciting and very engaging. I never expected to have so much time to speak with STEPS staff.” 2013 participant

“I liked the fact that it really was an open space in which everyone’s (teachers AND students) ideas and experiences could be shared and critically engaged with. I really valued how much everyone respected each other’s thoughts and ideas”  2012 participant

How it works

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is the main venue. IDS is on the edge of the Sussex University campus, set in the middle of rolling countryside but with good transport links to Brighton.

The programme includes lectures and discussions, ‘walkshops’ – longer discussions held on walks through the surrounding area – social events, and a chance to play the African Farmer game. The Summer School also includes some time in smaller groups, where participants get to reflect and discuss their own work, led and mentored by members of the STEPS Centre.

The discussion in these groups goes towards a mini-conference, planned and run by participants themselves, with support from the STEPS team.

Materials from past summer schools

Public lectures

Each year, the Summer School includes a public lecture open to a wider audience.

Other materials


Summer School 2016

Summer School 2015

Summer School 2014

Summer School 2013

Summer School 2012