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The Institute

The Institute


Founded on 8th October 1965, the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi, is the oldest out of 20 such institutes in the world. It is the premier multi-disciplinary and a multi-purpose development research institute in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. The IDS carries out full time research on high priority areas of social-economic development in Kenya, Africa and the world in general.

The Institute has been home to several Nobel Laureates and world-renowned scholars. These include James Tobin, winner of Nobel Prize in Economics (1981); Joseph Stiglitz, Winner of Nobel Prize in Economics (2000); Michael Todaro, the development economist who authored the Todaro Migration Model; James Coleman, a world-renowned sociologist; Bethwell Ogot, a world renowed historian and co-founder of IDS; and Charles Okidi, the first African recipient of the Elizabeth Haub Prize in Environmental law (1984), the highest Global award in environmental law. Many other international scholars started and built their academic careers at the IDS.

The IDS research, teaching and training priorities are framed into four broad themes:

  • Globalisation, localization and development;
  • Population, environment and sustainable livelihoods;
  • Institutions, governance and development; and
  • Social inclusion and identity.

In 2000, the IDS launched its graduate MA programme and in 2002 inaugurated a PhD programme in Development Studies.  This was in response to demand for highly-skilled and specialized expertise in development issues.

The IDS MA in Development Studies covers broad issues of development theory, research and practice. This is the core of the programme around which other courses revolve. Students choose courses from among the following modules:

  • Environment and natural resource management
  • Development and change
  • Human development
  • International development
  • Planning for development

IDS alumni are attractive products in the labour markets and are on high demand in government ministries, civil society and international organizations.


IDS research findings are popular policy and action-oriented outputs that are disseminated widely through local, regional and international workshops, seminars and conferences organized by IDS or to which IDS researchers are invited to. The Institute also publishes the following titles:

  • IDS Papers (Working, Discussion and Occasional);
  • Newsletter;
  • Policy Briefs;
  • The East African Journal of Development; and
  • Jointly-published book titles.

Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Past Directors

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