Summer School

Group discussion outside

The ninth and final STEPS Summer School on Pathways to Sustainability took place as a virtual course in May 2021. The Summer School is not open to new applications, but free materials are available for self-study – see below to explore them.

About the Summer School

The Summer School is a two-week immersive course on theories and practical approaches to sustainability, through creative, interactive and participatory learning.

It includes the STEPS Annual Lecture, an event open to the public.

Participants explore the theme of pathways to sustainability through a mixture of workshops, lectures, outdoor events and focused interaction with STEPS Centre members. The Summer School takes place on the University of Sussex campus, near Brighton, UK, where STEPS is co-hosted by the Institute of Development Studies and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU).

The Summer School has run since 2012 with the generous support of the ESRC, International Science Council (ISC) and others. There is also an Open Access online course which draws on lectures and readings from past Summer Schools, which will remain online for the coming years.

Free online course: Pathways to Sustainability

Our free online course on Pathways to Sustainability, drawing on the Summer School, includes selected reading lists, plus video lectures and questions to guide study.

Explore the course


“A great experience to open up your ways of thinking, grow as a researcher and have fantastic conversations about research, life and everything in between.” 2018 participant

“A great way to expand your network as a PhD student and find like-minded people who I hope to keep in touch with and work with the future.” 2017 participant

“I can honestly say it has been the best 2 weeks of the PhD so far. To be in such an amazing, supportive and inspiring group has been fantastic” 2016 participant

For a participant’s view of the Summer School, read Winifredo Dagli’s blog post about the course in 2018.

How it works

For common questions on the Summer School, view the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

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 – and social events. 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.


All participants are expected to agree with the statement on harassment and discrimination. The Institute of Development Studies Code of Conduct also applies.

IDS Code of Conduct (pdf)

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 2018


Summer School 2016

Summer School 2015

Summer School 2014

Summer School 2013

Summer School 2012