Brief History


Established in 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 socialist. Prof. Charles Okidi, founder and Pioneer Director, Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP, University of Nairobi) - is the first African recipient of the Elizabeth Haub Prize in Environmental law (1984), the highest Global award in environmental law was listed in the 1997 Who is Who and Does What in Environment and Conservation (Polunin and Lynn M. Cunne); and in 2007, was the first African scholar to be honoured by the Centre for Legal Studies, Office of the Attorney General, Government of Brazil. 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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The Institute for Development Studies
University of Nairobi

P.O. Box 30197
Nairobi, Kenya.

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Tel : 254 -020 -318262 Ext 28177 or

Cell phone : 254-772 114655


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