Institute for Global Development

UNSW’s Institute for Global Development acts as a catalyst for the UNSW community to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, working in partnership to positively transform lives and advance a just society.

About us

UNSW is deeply committed to shaping a more just society through our teaching, our research and our collaborations, both in Australia and overseas. Hundreds of staff, students, alumni and University leaders are already actively engaged in work related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They provided the inspiration for the establishment of the UNSW Institute for Global Development in 2016, which seeks to further develop local capacity in communities of greatest need.

The IGD has four pillars to its work:

  • Knowledge Exchange
    Contributing to building capacity through access to educational opportunities and creating sustainable (and scalable) evidence-based research solutions to issues affecting some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.
  • Knowledge Development
    Being active participants in the global community of academics focused on teaching and research within the discipline area of development practice. And creating new student and staff programs at UNSW that explore the principles of development practice in action in areas such as engineering, health, law and business.
  • Overseas Partnerships
    Through our Academic Leads, forging a small number of new partnerships in countries such as Myanmar, Uganda and across the Pacific Islands – helping to develop practical solutions to address disadvantage through education, research and advocacy. We want to be a positive and respectful partner, trialling new ways of working and new development practices in collaboration with other universities, government, NGOs and industry.
  • Australian Partnerships
    Forging a small number of new partnerships in Australia, such as our collaboration with the Dharriwaa Elders Group in Walgett (NSW), to help create community-led solutions to pressing challenges.
Knowledge exchange
Global PhD Candidates

UNSW is committed to building capacity by providing access to educational opportunities. Via the Institute for Global Development, we look to create sustainable (and scalable) evidence-based research solutions to issues affecting some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities by investing in the educational and research capacities of our partners. UNSW welcomes PhD candidates from across the world, supporting them to undertake their own research to deliver meaningful and locally identified solutions. Partnering with educational institutions across the world, UNSW offers PhD candidates to study at UNSW or study at their home institution under co-supervision by a UNSW academic.

Biennial Global South Scholar

In 2017 the UNSW School of Social Sciences welcomed its first Global South Scholar (GSS) to share in deep cultural knowledge exchange. Dr Babere Chacha from Kenya’s Laikipia University is a leading expert on African history who currently works in the Human Rights Centre at Laikipia. Dr Chacha played a key role in introducing human rights as a common core course at the university in 2013.

The GSS scholar program, initiated by the UNSW School of Social Sciences, recognises the value of the expertise and perspectives of scholars from the Global South, while acknowledging the responsibility and opportunity for UNSW to be a global leader in making knowledge inclusive of diverse academic voices. The GSS offers a full-time academic position for six months at UNSW, where the scholar makes contributions to teaching in the areas of their expertise, significantly enhancing the learning experience of undergraduate and postgraduate students at UNSW. The GSS enjoys a vibrant research environment, presenting research papers and meeting with academics from UNSW who share common research interests. The next GSS will join UNSW in 2019.

A Network of Experiential Practice

The establishment of the IGD was inspired by the commitment of hundreds of UNSW’s staff and students who undertake studies and research across the world in an effort to improve the lived experiences others. In 2017, UNSW, with the support of Australian government funding, sent 900 students to undertake study experiences in developing countries across the world including Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Myanmar, India and the Pacific Islands. This opportunity allows UNSW students to provide a unique perspective on the issues they work on with communities while also giving our students a deep understanding of the experience embedded in communities across the world.

UNSW researchers secure close to $7m each year to conduct research in developing countries across the world.

Along with student and staff initiatives, UNSW hosts a multitude of centres of excellence and networks with specialist expertise. These institutes and networks collaborate with the IGD to drive innovation in fields directly associated with Australia’s delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For more information connect with:

Knowledge development

The IGD offers a focal point for UNSW’s ongoing focus on teaching and research within the discipline area of development practice. We are committed to ensuring that all students and staff at UNSW have the opportunity to participate in programs that explore the principles of development practice in action across areas such as engineering, health, law and business. We work with our partners in developing countries and in disadvantaged communities across Australia to continually review and reimagine what good development practice is.

Our UNSW researchers drive this knowledge development as we seek to weave development practice training into all experiential learning experiences for students, ensuring that UNSW graduates are best placed to serve communities across the world with their unique comprehension of development practice and technical speciality.

To engage in continual discussion the IGD, along with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, host conversations and engagement opportunities throughout the year. IGD Academics lead roundtable discussions and workshops with staff and students on the specific challenges and opportunities in their regional areas. UNSW Arts and Social Sciences hold an annual Global Development Week, showcasing the UNSW expertise, alongside pre-eminent speakers from the Global Development sector.

In 2018 and 2019, UNSW will host the annual Australian Council for International Development Conference. To build on the opportunity of having ACFID members on campus, the IGD will host a series of high profile, and grassroots events in the lead-up to and throughout the conference week in October.  

Overseas partnerships

We are forging new partnerships in The Pacific, Myanmar and Uganda, seed funding projects that leverage UNSW research and education to deliver positive outcomes for communities.


Delivering renewable energy to Vanuatu
Dr Richard Corkish

Together with Vanuatu’s government and community, The University of the South Pacific and the Rotary Club, Richard and his team will help install solar-powered lighting and phone charging facilities in 14 rural health centres, update renewable energy services in three schools, and provide locals with a solar power user guide. In July 2018 the team will install lighting and phone charging in aid posts, work on a mini-grid and deliver two workshops on solar energy installations.

Controlling neglected tropical diseases in Fiji and the Solomon Islands
Scientia Professor John Kaldor

John and his team will work with national authorities to support research that assists in the control of neglected tropical diseases including scabies, trachoma, yaws and lymphatic filariasis. They will assist in improving data collection to track disease occurrence and help devise strategies to better control the diseases. Discussions with national authorities have taken place and scoping meetings are planned for 2018.

Facilitating sustainable energy in the South Pacific
Associate Professor Iain MacGill, Dr Anna Bruce, Associate Professor Atul Raturi (The University of The South Pacific)

In collaboration with colleagues at the University of the South Pacific, Iain and Anna will jointly run student courses and oversee research projects that focus on providing more accessible, affordable and reliable energy solutions for remote communities in the South Pacific. Iain and Anna are currently investigating projects where UNSW and USP students can collaborate to design sustainable energy solutions for communities in Fiji.

Creating clean geothermal power for the South Pacific
Professor Klaus Regenauer-Lieb

Klaus and his team are using natural geothermal heat in Fiji to provide electricity for food refrigeration, a morgue and a local fish farm for 5,000 nearby residents, minimising disease transfer and improving nutrition. Over 40 hot springs have been sampled, with proven reserves for electricity and even a therapeutics industry. In 2018, the team endeavours to broaden the footprint of harvesting geothermal power from Fiji’s volcanoes.

Developing sustainable housing for the poor in the Pacific Islands
Dr Sarath Mataraarachchi

With the aim of lifting the standard of living in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Sarath is training public officials to identify and develop viable infrastructure projects, and he is upskilling community members in the repair and maintenance of housing and basic infrastructure. In 2018, he will train public sector employees on viable infrastructure projects and the time-tested “Housing for Health” model for housing and infrastructure maintenance.



Reforming the constitution for peace in Myanmar
Dr Melissa Crouch, Professor Martin Krygier, Professor Theunis Roux

To assist Myanmar in making the transition from military rule to a democracy, Melissa and her team are working with Myanmar scholars and policy thinkers to consider how constitutional law and reform can achieve lasting peace. Together with Martin Krygier and Theunis Roux, Melissa has been helping train key legal stakeholders in Myanmar. Her upcoming book The Constitution of Myanmar will be published in English and Burmese.

Improving the clinical treatment of infectious diseases in Myanmar
Dr Josh Hanson

Josh and his team are working to improve the understanding and management of infectious diseases in Myanmar and the Asia-Pacific region through a collaboration between the Kirby Institute and the University of Medicine 2 in Yangon. The focus is on building the research capacity of local clinicians and enhancing their ability to combat infectious diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. A refurbished research laboratory at UM2 will open in 2018 to support new projects.

Partners in medical education in Myanmar
Dr Peter Harris

Building on a new research partnership between the Kirby Institute and the University of Medicine 2 (UM2) in Myanmar, Peter and his team will work closely with UM2 academics and teaching staff to update the university’s undergraduate medicine program and enrich the quality of graduates.

Transforming plastic waste into value in India, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu
Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla

To prevent plastic waste from entering waterways, Veena and her team will partner with locals in rural and coastal communities to establish waste collection networks and recycling micro-factories that will produce valuable materials and local job opportunities. They will also partner with public health sectors to increase the awareness of waste problems among the community. Veena, who invented the internationally-acclaimed ‘green steel’ technology, launched a world-first micro-factory at UNSW in April 2018.



Minimising land conflict in Uganda
Associate Professor Anne Bartlett, Dr Sarah Walker

Through a survey in 2017, Anne, her team and UNSW students identified deforestation as the major cause of land conflict in northern Uganda. They are currently engaged in remote sensing to estimate the amount of forest loss, and they are planning for a number of interventions including a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) project, energy efficient charcoal kilns and the use of high yield beehives to deter elephant-human conflict.

Summer school exchanges between UNSW and Uganda
Associate Professor Julian Cox

In a student exchange program between Gulu University (Uganda) and UNSW, Julian and his team aim to provide students with opportunities to learn from each other, academic staff and communities during short-term mobility experiences. Ten UNSW Engineering students have already visited Uganda to study and aid innovations in farming practices. Gulu students and staff are set to visit UNSW, Sydney and surrounding communities in 2018.

Training university teachers in Uganda
Professor Prem Ramburuth

Prem leads a transformative academic development project at Gulu University in Uganda. The project involves the training of academic staff in higher education strategies to enhance the quality of learning and teaching at Gulu University. In 2018, Prem will deliver a ‘train the trainers’ course for lead teachers who will be enabled to upskill junior staff across disciplines. She will also provide a leadership course for senior academic and management staff at Gulu University.

Improving the health of women and children in Uganda
Professor Robyn Richmond

Robyn and her team are helping advance the health of women and children in Northern Uganda over five years. In partnership with Gulu University, they have surveyed women on reproductive health and domestic violence, and together with Gulu and the Uganda Women’s Health Initiative, they established new cancer screening services at local health centres. In 2018 Robyn and her team will return to Northern Ugandan to assess children’s ear, eye and oral health, and other general health.

Australian partnerships

We have partnered with UNSW researchers and national peak bodies, working directly with Indigenous and disadvantaged communities to deliver community-led solutions to pressing challenges.

Improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Walgett
Professor Eileen Baldry, Dr Ruth McCausland, Peta MacGillivray

With the local Dharriwaa Elders Group leading the way, Eileen and her team are supporting systemic change in the health, wellbeing and life pathways of Aboriginal people in Walgett over the next ten years through a range of community-focused initiatives. During the ‘building phase’, initiatives include a forum on young people and the criminal justice system and implementing a youth justice action plan, and planning around a micro-factory that will recycle glass and create jobs and revenue.

UNSW ACOSS partnership

UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) work in partnership on the development of critical dialogue papers that inform policy development.

Although well-being is high, the latest OECD Economic Survey of Australia 2017 reports unequivocally that inequality has risen in Australia. The struggle to afford basic daily needs is a serious problem for many people in Australia despite being a wealthy country. Nearly 3 million people live below the internationally accepted poverty line, of which 731,000 are children.

The interdisciplinary collaboration between UNSW and ACOSS aims to focus national attention on poverty and inequality through high-quality research, policy development and advocacy to effect change. The partnership is monitoring trends in poverty and inequality over time, exploring drivers, and developing solutions to sharpen the focus and stimulate action to tackle these entrenched societal problems

IGD supports symposium with Pacific Island nations – 6 July 2018

Seed funding from the IGD has enabled UNSW to join forces with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) to hold a symposium in Fiji for Pacific Island community members on Capacity Building in Green Infrastructure and Housing for Poverty Reduction. Find out more or watch the highlights.

Gulu University students discover new technologies on tour with UNSW – 27 June 2018

Student Sentamu David Davis is eager to return home to Uganda and turn life around for his grandparents’ subsistence farming community after two weeks of learning about Australian agricultural practices during an exchange program with UNSW Sydney, which was supported by the IGD. Find out more.

Transforming women's lives in Uganda – 24 May 2018

A UNSW outreach program in northern Uganda is challenging prevailing attitudes to women’s health. The project is part of a five-year community health program in Gulu, driven by the IGD. Find out more.

IGD people
UNSW Strategic Sponsor
Fiona Docherty - Vice-President External Relations

Fiona’s role is to support the President and Vice-Chancellor to deliver UNSW’s 2025 Strategic Plan and provide leadership across the recruitment of future students to UNSW, the development of strategic international partnerships, and the strengthening of the University’s branding, communications and marketing strategy. Graduating from the University of Glasgow in 1990, Fiona worked for a progressive tea and coffee business Taylors of Harrogate, becoming the company’s youngest Director. In 2004, Fiona took on the challenge of developing a commercial and customer service strategy for Historic Scotland’s network of properties. Before joining UNSW, Fiona moved to her alma mater to shape the new international relations portfolio at the University of Glasgow. She became Pro-Vice-Chancellor, International at UNSW in 2012.

IGD Director
Dr. Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook has recently taken up the position of Director, Institute for Global Development at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She previously spent almost 10 years leading research institutes within the UN - as the Director of UNICEF’s Office of Research / Innocenti Research Centre, in Florence, Italy and from 2009-2015 as Director, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) in Geneva. In these roles, she has led research on transformative social and economic policy, shaping debates in the UN on equity, sustainability and social justice, and engaging at the intersection of research, policy and programming. Her own research has focused primarily on China, following its social and economic transformations over more than 3 decades. Key research interests include social policy/protection, labour markets and migration, and gender. From 1996-2009 Sarah was a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and spent 5 years as a Programme Officer with the Ford Foundation in Beijing. She received her PhD in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.  

IGD Executive Chair
Michael Rose AM

Michael is a lawyer and the former Chief Executive Partner of Allens. He is the Chairman of several government, arts and not-for-profit organisations, including the Committee for Sydney, Sydney Living Museums and ChildFund Alliance. Michael has been active in Indigenous Affairs, having been a member of the Referendum Council on Constitutional Recognition, Chairman of the Indigenous Engagement Task Force of the Business Council of Australia and an Ambassador for the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. In 2016, he was recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia for services to Indigenous communities and the legal profession. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Regional Academic Leads

Academic Leads assist with strategy and ensure activities in their region are coordinated and align with IGD’s broader goals.

Professor Heather Worth - ACADEMIC CO-LEAD (PACIFIC)

Professor Worth is Head of the International HIV Research Group in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW. A sociologist by trade, Heather has carried out over 20 research and capacity-building projects in the Pacific in the past 15 years. She is a passionate advocate for development in the South Pacific region and is currently spearheading an application to the UNSW Futures scheme for a Pacific Futures Institute. This process has seen Heather bring together a large number of UNSW academics who are working on a range of research and development projects in the region.

Associate Professor Daniel Robinson -  ACADEMIC CO-LEAD (PACIFIC)

Associate Professor Robinson has a background in environmental science, environmental law and human geography. Daniel’s research interests include protecting and promoting indigenous knowledge and rights in relation to the environment. He is a Research Fellow with the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), and he is Pacific Regional Project Manager of the Access and Benefit Sharing Capacity Development Initiative. He is currently the project lead on a 5 year ARC Discovery on Indigenous knowledge futures in Australia and the Pacific.


Dr Crouch specialises in comparative constitutional law and law and governance. She has worked on a range of projects in Myanmar. She is Team Leader for the UNSW-Asian Development Bank project on Professional Legal Education in Myanmar. Melissa is also Chief Investigator on an ARC grant on constitutional change in Myanmar and is  a Constitutional Law Expert for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. She is part of the Australia Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project with Theunis Roux and Martin Krygier. She has previously worked with other agencies such as UNDP and USAID.


As both policy analyst and academic, Dr Pedersen has been engaged with Myanmar for more than 20 years. Between 2001 and 2006, Morten was based in Myanmar as a project leader for the International Crisis Group where he delivered a series of ground-based policy reports that significantly and positively impacted humanitarian aid to Myanmar. Morten is a Senior Lecturer in International and Political Studies at UNSW Canberra and continues to develop work in Myanmar with a focus on peace, democracy and human rights.

Professor Prem Ramburuth - ACADEMIC CO-LEAD (AFRICA)

Professor Ramburuth was appointed Academic Lead for Uganda in 2016 and oversees four projects at Gulu University. Prem is the immediate past President of the UNSW Academic Board and a Professor in International Business, focusing on research and teaching in Cross-Cultural and Global Management in Business and Higher Education. She is also the UNSW representative on the Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN) and AAUN attendee of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA). She has been actively engaged with the Office of the South African High Commission for many years and, more recently, with the Office of the Ugandan High Commission.


Dr Alec Thornton is a Senior Lecturer and Discipline Stream Coordinator in Geography, School of Physical, Environmental & Mathematical Sciences (PEMS), at UNSW Canberra. Alec is actively engaged in participatory research to achieving sustainable urban and rural development. He conducts this research in Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zambia and Ethiopia. He is Senior Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg, in the School of Humanities and the School of Tourism & Hospitality. Alec was vice president (2010-2017) of The African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) and is co-editor of the Australasian Review of African Studies (ARAS), and editorial board member for Urban Forum (2009-present) and Applied Geography (2009-2015).

IGD staff
Hannah Sheridan – Manager

After a career in project and event management and fundraising for the arts, Hannah joined UNSW as a Project Officer in 2013. She worked on outreach activities before managing the fundraising portfolio of the University’s Equity and Access programs. In 2017 Hannah worked with an Interim Management Board to establish the Institute for Global Development and was later appointed its Manager. Hannah holds Master degrees in International Development and Education (Hons) – both from UNSW.

Michael Burnside – Senior Project Officer

Michael has community development experience in West Africa, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and the Pacific. He has also taught international development studies in both the classroom at UNSW and in India with Engineers Without Borders. Michael joined the Institute for Global Development to ensure important ideas and research are realised. He holds a Master of International Development and is currently working towards a Graduate Certificate in Disaster Risk Reduction.

Kirsten Ridley – Senior Project Officer

Kirsten has over ten years of experience working in international development, humanitarian response, and social enterprise sector development.  She has worked with a range of Australian and international NGOs, including Caritas Australia, Action Contra la Faim, and the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and has a specific interest in program quality assurance and humanitarian protection mainstreaming. Kirsten holds a Master in Management (Not For Profit).

Kayla Lochner – Administration Officer

Kayla joined the Institute for Global Development in April 2018, making the move from the fundraising sector. Kayla has extensive experience in youth representation in public policy, customer service and an academic background in anthropology. She is currently completing her coursework in a Master in Development Studies having completed her thesis last year investigating Fairtrade coffee co-operatives in the Gayo Highlands of Indonesia.

Mapping UNSW research

Over 100 UNSW researchers are partnered with communities around the globe to help deliver practical solutions and positively transform lives.

Read about our researchers and their projects.

Events and Opportunities

IGD Lecture Series

The IGD will be hosting a regular lecture series in 2019, welcoming international guest speakers and discussing a variety of development issues. These events will be followed by networking and refreshments. To stay up to date, join our mailing list.

Women in Asia Conference

The Institute for Global Development and the Women in Asia Forum hosted the 2019 Women in Asia Conference at UNSW, Sydney.
Theme: Women in Asia in an Era of Anti-Elitism: Responding to the Challenge of Rising Populism and its Threat to Gender Inclusivity
21st June to 23rd June 2019
UNSW Sydney, Kensington
For more information, please visit the Women in Asia Conference website.

Stay in touch

The Institute for Global Development sends out a monthly newsletter to our mailing list. You can view previous editions below.

Issue 1 - February 2019

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We are looking to connect with people, organisations, institutions and experts from around the world who want to work with us to transform lives and advance a just society.

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T: +61 2 9385 7997

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