Socially relevant research at ISS

Global Development and Social Justice Research programme

As a leader in the field of development studies, the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) finds responses to today’s global problems. Issues such as poverty, inequality, migration, conflict and ecology are important in the ISS research agenda.

Our Global Development and Social Justice research programme takes a critical approach to policy responses that are formulated to social, economic and political issues. The critical attitude is the result of a deeply felt need to analyse the way in which power differences among groups of people result in policies and practices that are highly beneficial to the powerful and detrimental to the powerless.

ISS research highlights

Engagement and Impact

With our participatory research methods, we aim to co-produce knowledge. The ISS philosophy is to engage in research activities with societal stakeholders rather than only for them.

ISS is concerned not only with high quality knowledge production, but with how knowledge is produced, in ways that engage those most affected, strengthen their capacities, and contribute to problem solving.

We have a unique commitment to ‘scholar-activism’, understood as a spectrum of ways of working with society. Reflecting this commitment, are the deep partnerships which ISS has with social groups around the world, including NGOs, social movements and other local, national and global networks.

One example of engaged research with a clear societal impact is the When Disaster Meets Conflict research project which investigates how stakeholders respond to disasters in conflict-affected situations.

Our research values

  • committed to a more just social order at a global scale, built on notions of distributive and procedural justice
  • making a contribution to capacity development
  • and building awareness that power relations have produced the very differences in capacities among the privileged and the disadvantaged
  • through doing research with societal relevance, not just about people, but with and for people

Research themes

All our research falls under one of our four themes. These themes integrate research efforts and address highly topical societal issues.

Conflict and Peace research theme

Why and how conflicts occur and how to achieve peace

Conflict and peace research

Social Protection and Inequality research theme

Reducing poverty and vulnerability

Social protection and inequality research

Environment and Climate Change research theme

Conserving natural resources for sustainable development

Environment and climate change research

Migration and Diversity research theme

The transformations of national societies and global society

Migration and diversity research

Research groups

Operating within the framework of the research programme,  and contributing to the overall research objectives of the institute, four research groups bring together senior academic staff, post-docs and PhD researchers.