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Centre for Global Development Annual Lecture: Pathways to Sustainability: Environment, Health and Social Justice in a Complex, Dynamic Age

CGD Annual Lectures
Thursday 3 November 2011

By Professor Melissa Leach, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex

We were honoured to have Professor Melissa Leach from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex come to speak on Pathways to Sustainability: Environment, Health and Social Justice in a Complex, Dynamic Age.  A podcast of the presentation is below.

Podcast: download the lecture [MP3: 49MB]

Pathways to Sustainability: Environment, Health and Social Justice in a Complex, Dynamic Age


Rapid environmental and social change are today posing new global challenges across agriculture, health and development. In addressing these, how might pathways to sustainability - that link environmental integrity with social justice - be built?

Focusing particularly on the challenges of maintaining food security amidst climate change in Africa, and addressing emerging infectious diseases and pandemic threats, Melissa Leach will explore this 'pathways approach' in action, considering how and why powerful actors and institutions so often close down around particular framings of sustainability problems, committing to particular pathways that emphasize maintaining
stability and control.


Professorial Fellow at IDS Melissa Leach has since 2006 directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre. She originally trained as a geographer (MA Cambridge) and social anthropologist (PhD London). Over the last twenty years she has been closely involved both in ethnographic fieldwork, speaking four African languages, and in extensive interdisciplinary research. This has engaged anthropology with historical, ecological and science and technology studies approaches, as well as working with foresters, agricultural and medical scientists.

She has led and managed many large, interdisciplinary research programmes involving multi-country teams. Her work has forwarded new perspectives in several fields, including the anthropology of environment and development; gender-environment relations; the environmental entitlements approach to institutions and natural resource management, environmental and forest history and challenging 'received wisdoms' about environmental change.  Melissa's recent work has explored the politics of science and knowledge in policy processes linked to environment and health; addressing vaccine controversies, scientific uncertainties, citizenship and public engagement; cultural and political dimensions of vaccine delivery; medical research trials, emerging infectious diseases, and ecology-health linkages.