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School of Environment, Education and Development

Poverty and social justice

SEED places a strong focus on improving understandings of poverty, with eradicating absolute poverty one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Large numbers of the world's population are still trapped in chronic poverty, and more than 1.4 billion people around the world survive on less than one dollar a day.

SEED research has produced new knowledge and policy guidance on the causes of poverty, as well as detailed analysis on the best ways to eradicate poverty and promote broader forms of social justice, in the global North as well as South.

Poverty analysis and reduction

Abandoned and boarded up houses in the UK

Our core research builds upon the success of the Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), funded by the UK Government and hosted at Manchester from 2001 to 2011. The CPRC was innovative in its focus on the multi-dimensional character of chronic poverty, including its links to vulnerability and unequal power relations. Work is ongoing, and continues to foreground the importance of poor people’s perceptions of poverty, and their aspirations for a better future.

The launch of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 committed world leaders to halving the proportion of the global population that survives on less than $1 a day, by the year 2015 (MDG1). However, progress towards this goal has been uneven, with research undertaken at the SEED hosted Global Development Institute (formerly the Brooks World Poverty Institute) strongly suggesting the need for renewed engagement and commitment amongst global and national elites.

SEED research has consistently revealed that poverty reduction requires not only new policies, but also significant shifts in the institutions and power relations that underpin development. In accordance with these findings, SEED’s new Effective States and Inclusive Development Centre (ESID) builds upon work undertaken within CPRC and the Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth (IPPG) research programme, in order to identify political drivers of development. This research is being undertaken in collaboration with research partners and organisations in Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and the United States.

Social justice and inequality

A substantial proportion of research across SEED seeks to address inequality and its causes. This research takes place at a number of scales:

Social protection

Research on social protection programmes, and in particular antipoverty cash transfers in the global South, has considered how these ground-breaking initiatives can lift people out of poverty.

Capturing the Gains

The Capturing the Gains programme brings together an international network of experts from North and South to research global production networks, and promote strategies for fairer trade and decent work. Similarly, recent consultancy work with Cadbury has led to a £45 investment in the sourcing of fair trade cocoa.

Rising Powers

SEED researchers are leading on a major ESRC funded ‘Rising Powers’ network and project on China, India, and Brazil. This research considers the ways in which these states are transforming the governance of international standards, and influencing the development prospects of the poorest countries.

Global Urban research

The work of the Global Urban Research Centre (GURC) focuses on the role that urban civil society organisations play in poverty reduction. Recent successes include a major intervention in helping the transitional government in Zimbabwe to think through options for recovery and development.

Special educational needs

Researchers within the Manchester Institute of Education have placed a firm emphasis on Special Educational Needs (SEN), with a focus on developing, understanding, applying and evaluating approaches that aim to support vulnerable learners in schools and other contexts.

Peace making

Ongoing research into the complexities of peace-making, has contributed extensively to an interactive exhibit that forms part of the Imperial War Museum North’s permanent exhibition.

Further information