The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a leading global charity for international development researchteaching and communications.

IDS was founded in 1966 and enjoys an international reputation based on the quality of its work and its commitment to applying academic skills to real world challenges. Its purpose is to understand and explain the world, and to try to change it – to influence as well as to inform.

IDS hosts six dynamic research teams, eight popular postgraduate courses, and a family of world-class knowledge services. These three spheres are integrated in a unique combination – as a development knowledge hub, IDS is connected into and is a convenor of networks throughout the world. 

The Institute is home to approximately 100 researchers, 40 knowledge services staff, 65 support staff and about 200 students at any one time. But the IDS community extends far beyond, encompassing an extensive network of partners, former staff and students across the development community worldwide.

As a charity, IDS receives no core funding from the British government. See theManagement and funding page for more details.

Vision and mission

The IDS vision is a world in which poverty does not exist, social justice prevails and sustainable growth promotes human wellbeing.

Our key strategic aims

  1. We will build new alliances - We will build new partnerships with a wider range of actors who drive change in society, outside as well as inside the development industry.

  2. We will co-construct knowledge - We will co-construct knowledge and reconstruct excellence - by developing and implementing collaborative ways of working which engage multiple perspectives in defining problems and questions and in generating knowledge.

  3. We will engage in dynamic policy environments - We will be nimble in engaging with policy, institutional and political processes that are shifting and multi-sited.

  4. We will build our institutional capacity to be fit for purpose - We will make changes internally to ensure our culture, resources, systems and structures deliver on Aims 1-3.

What Makes IDS Different

When IDS was established in 1966, it was one of the first institutes of its kind. Now there are many more development research organisations and think tanks, both in the North and, increasingly, in the South. However, IDS remains distinctive in its commitment and approach to development. We see our current strengths relying primarily on our:

  • People-centred perspective on development which recognises the many faces of poverty, and the way that power differentials can mediate progress towards equity, justice and poverty reduction
  • Integrated ways of working, combining research, teaching and communications work. IDS is one of the only development organisations that is a world leader in all three spheres. We work hard to integrate these elements as we recognise the positive synergies that their interaction generates
  • Multidisciplinary approach which we see as essential in tackling the complex and multifaceted challenges of development
  • Unique network of partners and contacts which stretches from international agencies to grassroots activists and spans civil society, governments, the business sector and the media
  • Reputation and credibility. Built up over 40 years, this provides IDS with the convening power to bring together leading players in development policy and practice and to capture the attention of a wide audience.
Documents to download