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Communities across the world, and the planet itself, are facing the intersecting challenges of inequality, poverty, conflict and the climate emergency. There is an urgent need for a step change in the ways the world seeks to tackle these challenges in order to improve the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities and build more sustainable models of development. 

Attempting to tackle these global challenges is not new. But historic inequalities have not been addressed, while social, economic, political and cultural ideas from the global North have dominated thinking about how to address inequality and promote sustainable development. As a result, the knowledge, ideas and experiences of communities in the global South have often been relegated to the margins. The production of research and knowledge has not taken place outside these inequalities, and has often taken place in silos that limit the innovations and transformations needed to tackle the world’s pressing global challenges.

Co-producing new knowledge equitably and ethically with communities and stakeholders in the global South has a critically important role to play in meeting these challenges. The Northumbria Global Development Futures IDRT (Interdisciplinary Research Theme) brings together academics from every faculty to work across disciplines with a vision to develop research and education that addresses inequality, poverty, conflict and the climate emergency. It aims to achieve this by supporting the development of equitable partnerships, collaboration and co-production, developing innovative interdisciplinary research that fosters new thinking, and ensuring our research is relevant to and shared effectively with key stakeholders to shape impact. 

Our academics work closely with leading global actors to shape policy, such as the United Nations and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, as well as with vulnerable communities, civil society organisations and governments in Latin America, South and South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Our research supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and efforts to accelerate moves to more sustainable forms of development as part of the Decade of Action.

Global Development Futures IDRT events

Recent events

  • Global Development Futures Research Sandpit (25th May 2023). 

  • Participatory Research Workshop “Experiences and Learning in and with the ‘Global South’” (30th March 2023). Read our workshop blog

  • Northumbria’s Interdisciplinary Research Themes Conference (11th January 2023). Read our conference blog.

Our key themes

Key themes for Global Development Futures IDRT are:

  • Community action and innovation
  • Mobilities and displacement
  • Climate, crises and disasters

Work with us

The Global Development Futures IDRT brings together a diverse range of academics and members of different research groups and Centres, including the Centre for Global Development, Disasters and Development Network, NorthLab and Sustainable Development Interest Group in the faculty of Business and Law.

Join our mailing list

If you are interested in collaborating or finding out more about upcoming events and news, please join our Global Development Futures IDRT email group by emailing

Theme Lead

Professor Matt Baillie Smith

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