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Global Development Institute

Our history

The Global Development Institute at The University of Manchester: where critical thinking meets social justice.

The Global Development Institute is a culmination of an impressive history of development studies at The University of Manchester which has spanned more than 60 years.

The birth of development economics

In 1948, Sir Arthur Lewis joined the Manchester as Britain’s first black professor.

Lewis completed his most important work here, establishing the field of development economics, for which he later received a Nobel Prize, and paved the way for what would later be called the Institute for Development and Policy Management. 

Development administration 

Arthur Lewis
Professor Arthur Lewis, the founder of development economics

In the mid-1960s, the University established the Overseas Administrative Studies department, with its own staff to undertake teaching and research. The department offered courses in public administration for overseas students - predominantly civil servants - undertaking an eight month course, focusing on development planning and administrative practice.

From the 1980s, there was a shift towards formal Diplomas and Master’s degrees. Department staff became increasingly active as consultants for a number of government and non-government agencies.

Research focus 

In 1987, the Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM) was formally established. The Institute reflected traditional public and social administration as well as mainstream development studies. 

The change reflected a desire to establish Manchester as a centre of excellence for development studies, with a strong research ethos. Leading research expertise was developed in areas such as development finance, sub-Saharan agriculture, and personnel management in a development context.

Philanthropic investment 

Arthur Lewis Building, The University of Manchester
The Arthur Lewis Building, the current home of the Global Development Institute.

The Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI) was launched in 2005 with the generous support of the Rory and Elizabeth Brooks Foundation. Working alongside IDPM and later the Humanitarian and Conflict Research Institute (formed in 2009), BWPI helped to raise the profile and impact of Manchester’s development research and insights.

With the involvement of leading international thinkers, such as Nobel Prize winner Professor Joseph Stiglitz, BWPI led a large number of ground-breaking international research projects, which shifted development policy and practice.    

The Global Development Institute

In 2016, given the increasing global nature of addressing poverty and inequality, The University of Manchester united the strengths of the Institute for Development Policy and Management and the Brooks World Poverty Institute create the Global Development Institute. GDI is the largest development focused teaching and research institute in Europe and emphasises the University’s commitment to addressing global inequalities – one of the University’s five research beacons of excellence.