IDS History

1963-03-01 00:00:00

Need identified for UK development institution

One year after the Bridges Committee recommended ‘further investigations’ into the possible need for a central training institution for administrators in developing countries, the UK Committee on Training in Public Administration for Overseas Countries, met in London and accepted such a need and recommended action.

1965-04-05 00:00:00

The seeds of IDS are sown

After an extensive study in 1963 and 1964 by the Department of Technical Cooperation (DTC), the proposal for a special development training institution was adopted in 1965. Sir Andrew Cohen, the permanent secretary of the newly founded Ministry of Overseas Development was a key proponent, as was the Minister Barbara Castle and Dudley Seers (a future Director of IDS), who had been appointed as Director General of the Ministry.

1966-04-20 00:00:00

Mao launches Cultural Revolution in China

1966-04-20 00:00:00

IDS is founded

On 20 April 1966 IDS is founded as a ‘special institution’, Britain’s first national institute of development studies. In the first year IDS is based at the University of Sussex (in Lancaster House) and is led by Richard Symonds who takes the role of Acting Director for nine months, and supported by Tommy Gee who lead the Institute’s administration.

1967-01-04 03:35:14

IDS starts off with a bang

Dudley Seers takes his place as the first Director and instigates IDS's Founding Conference. Paul Streeten becomes Deputy Director, ten Fellows are appointed, along with ten other research staff, and the British Library for Development Studies is established. A torrent of publications are produced and IDS moves to Stanmer House while the new IDS building is being built.

1967-10-01 00:00:00

Che Guevara killed in Bolovia

1968-06-01 01:50:06

Martin Luther King assassinated

1968-06-01 01:50:06

First IDS Bulletin published

Edited by Dudley Seers, the Bulletin entitled ‘From Colonial Economics to Development Studies’ set the stage for rethinking development planning.

1968-09-20 01:50:06

The IDS student community grows

IDS study courses attracted hundreds of students in its first few years and the number of doctoral students receiving supervision from IDS Fellows swelled. Although the limit was four students per Fellow, by 1968, some 23 graduate students were being supervised. This number rose to 30 in 1969.

1969-03-01 00:00:00

IDS begins to make waves worldwide

The Pearson Report had far-reaching implications for the Institute’s reputation and contacts. Dudley Seers was approached to suggest the names of some young people in development who could attend a week-long conference in the USA to discuss the report and its proposals. Seers proposed the names of around 20 people from all over the world, including several from IDS. A conference statement in response to the report was drafted and became the Williamsburg Declaration underlining the many inadequacies of the report and the need for much bolder approaches to development. The Declaration received the support and signatures of all but a handful of the 140 conference participants. Even more importantly the conference created a new network of people active in development that lasted for two or three decades .

1969-03-01 00:00:00

Two major development reports released

In 1969 two international reports were issued with important implications for development policy. One of these was the UN Study of the Capacity of the UN Development System, proposing measures for strengthening and integrating the UN’s development operations. The other report was that of the Pearson Commission on International Development, Partners in Development (Pearson 1969). This was a ground-breaking document, being the first time an international commission had been created to explore international development issues.

1969-07-01 00:00:00

‘Crisis in Planning’ conference

The IDS-led Crisis in Planning conference became an important conference and a major publication, challenging much of the conventional wisdom on the importance of macro-economic planning in newly independent countries (Seers and Faber 1971).

1970-01-01 00:00:00

The ILO employment missions

The three International Labour Organisation (ILO) employment missions to Colombia, Sri Lanka and Kenya (in 1970, 1971 and 1972) were the most high-profile activities with which IDS was linked in its early years. Reports from the missions made substantial waves in the World Bank and ILO, and findings recommedned a more appropriate development strategy that effectively combined economic growth, productive employment and basic needs, rather than focusing on economic growth alone. This led on to the IDS-World Bank project on Redistribution with Growth.

1970-01-04 03:35:14

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ratified

In March of 1970 the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty came into effect after it was ratified in the United Nations. The purpose of the treaty was to prevent the further spread and creation of nuclear weapons, to work towards complete disarmament, and for nations to cooperate with each other in the safe development and use of nuclear energy. Nearly two hundred countries have joined the treaty over the years, including the five nuclear states, and in 1995 the treaty was extended indefinitely by the United Nations.

1971-01-01 00:00:00

IDS publishes its first book

Nine Fellows join together to produce the first IDS book, a Penguin publication designed to reach a wide audience. Development in a Divided World was edited by Dudley Seers and Len Joy.

1971-01-04 00:00:00

Greenpeace founded

Founding of environmental organisation Greenpeace.

1971-12-04 00:00:00

The microprocessor is introduced

The foundation of all computers, or just about anything electric.

1972-01-01 00:00:00

New Director for a new era

Dudley Seers steps down as Director and Richard Jolly takes up the mantle.

1973-01-01 00:00:00

Opec Oil Crisis

1973-01-01 00:00:00

Enter the MPhil students

The establishment of the MPhil course was one of the most important influences during the 1970s. Involving intense interaction between academic staff and students, the two-year course was fresh and bold, setting development within a wide interdisciplinary perspective which was both historical and international.

1973-03-01 00:00:00

Chilean coup d’état

1973-06-04 00:00:00

Chile’s coup impacts on IDS

The overthrow of Allende in Chile impacted on IDS's thinking, staffing, reputation and influence. Just before the coup, IDS had jointly held a conference with the Ministry of Planning of the Allende government, to discuss policy options for the ‘socialist’ regime. The coup itself was bloody with thousands associated with the Allende regime needing to escape abroad. Dudley Seers, along with many others, played an important role through the World University Service in helping to find places for these vulnerable people to go. Carlos Fortin joined IDS at this point, having previously been in the Chilean embassy in London.

1973-12-01 00:00:00

S/he's behind you!

The IDS pantomime was established as an annual tradition soon after the MPhil course was started. It continues to provide much amusement every Christmas!

1973-12-01 00:00:00

Britain joins the EEC

Britain joins the European Economic Community

1975-01-01 00:00:00

End of the Vietnam War

1975-06-01 00:00:00

Participatory approaches gain momentum

The 1970s marked the beginnings of an ever-widening range of involvements in participatory approaches to development. The evolution has gone through a number of stages: RRA (rapid rural appraisal); PRA (participatory rural appraisal); participatory planning and decision-making; and immersion for international aid officials and others who want to see and discover for themselves the realities of rural and urban life for the poor. The common element is learning from poor people and avoiding the biases of top-down perceptions of poverty and learning the surprisingly difficult skills of how to listen. Robert Chambers started discovering these messages through a range of research and teaching activities during the 1970s. In 1975, there was a critical meeting in IDS, with John Harris, Scarlett Epstein, Richard Longhurst and others, at which the risks and biases of quick-visit observers were again noted. The first major presentation was at the conference on seasonality in 1978 and in the subsequent book, Seasonal Dimensions to Rural Poverty.

1975-06-01 00:00:00

EADI formed

The European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) is formed

1976-01-01 00:00:00

Postgraduate studies expands

By 1977/8, some 80 IDS students were being supervised for theses in many disciplines and on a great diversity of themes. Topics dealt with development issues in all major regions of the world. By 1976, 33 doctoral theses had been completed.

1976-07-04 00:00:00

The ‘Diploma Disease’ exposed

Based on a major IDS research programme in the early 70s, Dore’s ground-breaking book, The Diploma Disease: Education, Qualification and Development traced the underlying causes of changes to educational systems through the educational histories of Britain, Japan, Sri Lanka and Kenya. He shows how the ‘late development effect’ makes what is a worrying problem for the rich countries in the North a disaster for the poorer countries of the South.

1977-01-01 00:00:00

Focus on gender

A second major new research theme to emerge in IDS in the mid-1970s was the Institute’s work on gender. The main initiator was Kate Young, who was appointed to a research position in 1976/7 and as a Fellow a year later. She set up SOW – the Subordination of Women collective.

1977-07-04 00:00:00

Why poor people stay poor

IDS Fellow Michael Lipton grabbed the attention of the development community with his article: ‘Why poor people stay poor: urban bias in world development’. In it Lipton argued that the greatest division in the world at that time was the economic gap between urban and rural areas in the developing countries and set forth approaches to improving the conditions of the world's most impoverished peoples. During his 25 years as an IDS Fellow, Dr. Lipton also founded and directed the Village Studies Programme (1971-6), which collated over 3000 primary surveys and produced books on “why villages differ” in nutrition, migration and labour use.

1978-01-01 00:00:00

Winter of Discontent UK

1979-01-01 00:00:00

The Conservatives gain power, led by Margaret Thatcher

1979-01-04 00:00:00

Thatcher government puts IDS at risk

IDS’s funding arrangements, and thus existence was threatened when it was classed as a Quango (a Quasi non-government organisation) under the Thatcher Government. Until this point, IDS was almost entirely government-funded by a five-year recurring (‘quinquennial’) grant from Official Development Assistance. With considerable lobbying by IDS’s governing body and supporters (including a memorable interaction with Her Majesty The Queen), it was indicated that a mistake had been made. IDS was no longer classified as a Quango. Though this removed the threat of immediate closure, tough bargaining still lay ahead with respect to the size and extent of a future government grant. While Thatcher did not close IDS, she cut back radically on the size of the grant.

1980-01-01 00:00:00

Green Party established

Green Party established in West Germany.

1980-07-01 00:00:00

Beware of debt-speak

Beware of Debt-Speak was published in the 1980s and attracted much attention. This small booklet by Mike Faber, featuring cartoons as well as hard-hitting analysis, focused on how creditors had developed a language of ‘debt-speak’ to promote and strengthen their position at the expense of debtors.

1982-01-01 00:00:00

Robert Chambers' Putting the first last published

Robert Chambers published Rural Development: Putting the First Last

1982-01-01 00:00:00

Computer named Machine of the Year by Time Magazine.

1982-07-01 00:00:00

IDS appoints it's third Director

In 1981-82, Richard Jolly steps down as Director to go to UNICEF as Deputy Executive Director for Programmes, and Mike Faber becomes IDS’ third Director.

1983-01-01 00:00:00

Improving food aid

Food aid became a theme of much of IDS' work in the 1980s, including research, seminars and conferences. Hans Singer had already mapped out many of the basic arguments for food aid in the 1960s, in support of the establishment of the World Food Programme (WFP). By the 1970s, food aid and the WFP were well established in the armoury of donors. But they came into their own in the mid-1980s, with the disasters of African drought seriously affecting nearly 30 countries. Ed Clay, John Shaw and Hans Singer were active in exploring how food aid could better be used in emergencies, drawing in part on experience in Bangladesh and India to show how improvements could be made in food crisis management.

1983-07-01 00:00:00

IDS mourns loss of Dudley Seers

British economist, Dudley Seers (1920–1983) was the director of IDS from 1967 till 1972. He made a tremendous contribution to IDS and development economics globally.

1984-01-01 00:00:00

Famine in Ethiopia and launch of Band Aid

1984-01-01 00:00:00

Efficiencies of global markets challenged

The IDS Bulletin on Developmental States in East Asia (1984) edited by Robert Wade and Gordon White was widely disseminated and much cited. It proved an important reference point for many who were challenging Washington Consensus assertions about the efficiency-outcomes of markets in general, and global markets. In 1988 a follow-up book was published, Development States in East Asia, edited by Gordon White which analyses and evaluates the development role and impact of the state in East Asia, in both capitalist (South Korea and Taiwan) and socialist (China) contexts. It presented an original theory, taking issue with the conventional view that East Asian development reflects the power of market forces.

1984-07-01 00:00:00

Assassination of Indira Gandhi

1985-01-01 00:00:00

Gorbachev elected

1985-01-01 00:00:00

300 future development champions

Those who have participated or who are participating now in our postgraduate programmes now number exactly 300.

1987-01-01 00:00:00

John Toye becomes Director

John Toye succeeds Mike Faber as Director.

1988-01-01 00:00:00

Challenging neoliberal orthodoxy

Fifteen IDS Fellows joined together to produce a multidisciplinary analysis of the achievements and limitations of neoliberal philosophy. A seminar series was held in the autumn to discuss first drafts, followed in December 1988 by a three-day workshop held at the Annual Retreat Conference. States or Markets, edited by Christopher Colclough and James Manor (Colclough and Manor 1991), was the published as a result. The book argued that neoliberalism as a universal frame of policy applicable to all developing countries was both flawed and incomplete.

1989-01-01 00:00:00

Fall of the Berlin Wall

1990-01-01 18:27:30

IDS founds Environment Group

IDS History

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