Our mission

The Institute for Global Sustainable Development (IGSD) at the University of Sheffield is an international centre of excellence, uniting researchers from different disciplines to address global challenges in collaboration with partners and communities worldwide.


We pursue critical and rigorous research, working across humanities, social sciences and science, to understand major global problems. Our teaching equips current and future generations of decision-makers and citizens to tackle these problems. Our research informs and influences decision-makers and policy to deliver tangibly beneficial outcomes to diverse communities at multiple scales.

At the Institute for Global Sustainable Development we strive for research excellence. We exercise critical self-reflection, theoretical and empirical rigour, and critical analysis. But we do not seek research excellence alone. Rather our excellence is marked by three distinctive attributes.


Together, we can work for change. Our researchers come from different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, and are committed to different forms of engagement with global sustainable development. We believe in the power of partnerships with different stakeholders, including local communities, NGOs, businesses, policy-makers, academic funding bodies, foundations, bilateral and multilateral bodies, including many UN agencies. We are international and committed to global cooperation. We also understand the colonial roots of development and actively seek new, decolonized ways of working together in partnership.


We believe in academic freedom, and its vital role of speaking truth to power. We seek to be constructive in our critical analysis, and through  our partnerships to engage diverse stakeholders honestly, frankly and wisely. We know that diverse knowledge must inform our understanding and seek to play our part in amplifying voices that are under-represented.


Research can change the world. We apply different approaches and methods to co-design our research agendas and projects and communicate our findings in ways that allow policy-makers, business, NGOs and communities to use them. Together with our partners, we seek for our research to have an impact. We seek to conduct research in an inclusive, decolonized, and engaged way which helps transform our communities, our understanding, and our world.  

Our initiatives

At the Institute of Global Sustainable Development (IGSD) there are some key initiatives which cut across our research themes:

Global Sustainable Development Hub

This online learning hub provides staff and students working on GSD extensive training resources for their professional development. Topics include co-design and participatory methods, diverse knowledges, good partnership practices etc. 

Reading Group: Political Ecology

The Political Ecology reading groups meets regularly during the course of the academic year to discuss newly published papers, draft work from members of the group, current debates in the discipline and new research proposals. New members are welcome. Email Megnaa Mehtta for information.

Reading Group: Development Alternatives

Development Alternatives is a study group supported by the Sheffield Institute for International Development which engages with scholarship on development alternatives that emerge from distinct disciplines and draw on, both, Northern and Southern perspectives. This includes, among others, current work on alternatives to economic growth or sustainable development framed through concepts such as Buen Vivir in Latin America, degrowth in Europe and North America, Ubuntu in Southern Africa, and Swaraj in India.

Decolonising our Research Practices

Since 2016, IGSD has been a leading partner in initiatives at the university to support equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and to decolonise our research practices. On this ongoing journey we have hosted workshops and events ranging from conceptualising decolonisation, asking partners from the south to examine and critique our practices, promoting less-cited work from less powerful voices, and decolonising STEM subjects. In this process we seek collective and individual learning opportunities in an atmosphere of respect and care.