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School of Development

Development, broadly construed, refers to the range of interventions that purport to advance and secure individual and social well-being in a sustainable and equitable manner. Any attempt to explain development must contend with the plurality of conceptions of human well-being.

India continues to have serious development challenges: for example, after more than six decades of independence, India has an unacceptably high percentage of its population living in absolute poverty and alarmingly high levels of infant mortality and malnutrition. These statistics emphasize the moral necessity for state and non-state sectors to renew their engagement with the challenges of development in constructive ways.

A robust engagement with this domain needs a large number of persons with varied backgrounds, capacities and interests and an ethical outlook that provide inspiration for development action. The Azim Premji University intends to contribute, through its educational programmes, to the knowledge and practice of and reflection on development in India. We recognize that development is not a unitary discipline but an integrative field that brings together understandings from the social and behavioural sciences, the humanities, science/ technology, within a framework of analysis, policy and institutional action.

The School of Development focuses on the following:

  • Developing and delivering Masters Programmes in Development
    (M.A. Development) focusing on key domains that constitute development.
  • Foster research excellence in these fields by undertaking empirically grounded and methodologically rigorous studies.
  • Critically contribute to the continuing education efforts of the University, through active engagement in capacity enhancement of development professionals from the Government and other non-governmental organizations.
  • Support and enable the work of the other schools within the University through the design and delivery of interdisciplinary courses.

Public Health

Public health is central to development and is closely linked to the societal goals of equity, social justice and human rights. The need for a holistic understanding of public health that puts ‘public’ (attentive to the needs of marginalized communities and groups) and ‘health’ (understood in a larger sense of well-being including promotive, preventive and curative health) at the center stage has increasingly been stated in several forums. Traditionally public health training has been confined to medical colleges (e.g.: community medicine) with very recent efforts to introduce public health schools. Barring a few, these training programs lack a coherent perspective and to a large extent address public health as a managerial issue alone. There is an urgent need for training in perspectives and skills that enable public health professionals to be sensitive to the study of people, society, institutions and systems that produce and intervene in public health knowledge and practice.

The initiative comprising of a multi-disciplinary faculty focuses on the creation of new and relevant knowledge through a series of teaching and research activities based at the University.

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As we envision a path towards sustainable development we are confronted with an array of complex socio-environmental challenges, ranging from rapid urbanization, unfettered economic growth, threats to public health, malnutrition and poverty, to growing fresh water scarcity, waste-management woes, unsustainable agriculture, biodiversity loss, deforestation and climate change. Development that aims at securing social wellbeing in all its plurality is largely dependent on the health of natural systems. The nature and complexity of the challenges indicate that the solutions have to be inclusive, sustainable. Many current discourses are polarized between extreme visions of industrialized society co-dependent on relentless economic growth, or of returning to a wilderness driven by deep ecology.

It is imperative that coherent personal and collective responses are urgently explored and that such an exploration becomes part of any sensitive educational endeavour. The sustainability work at the university will have a three-fold vision for its students. Firstly it will enable students to understand and engage with the national and global debates on sustainable development. Secondly, it will empower students to locate their role in development through a perspective of sustainability that includes the inter-relationships between Nature, Society and Economy. Thirdly, it will provide students the means to gain depth and breadth in sustainability across three broad cognitive areas, such as: theoretical and conceptual understanding, inter-disciplinary methods and analytical skills, and the frameworks for effective policy and governance including management.


The growing public acknowledgment about the inability of national economies to generate gainful employment, let alone a dignified life for all, especially the poor, marginalized and vulnerable – require a reshaping of approaches to development. While issues of employment, decent work, just remuneration, income generation, livelihoods transition, the dignity of work, and sustainable livelihoods are central to development, they constitute a distinct area of knowledge, theorization, and intervention.

We need to understand Livelihoods within the larger historical, socio-cultural, ecological, political-economic and legal-institutional frameworks and then proceed to address contemporary processes of socio-economic transformation such as globalization of production and trade, agrarian transformation, development-induced displacement, urbanization, de-regulation and informalisation of labour, feminization of poverty, and the ways in which these (re)structure and transform work, employment and livelihoods and the social ways of life based upon them.

This will enable students to engage in action and interventions in areas related to poverty reduction /alleviation, livelihood security and diversification, financial inclusion, migration and work, labour standards and labour regulation, resource crises and livelihoods, technological change and skills development, by providing them

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The City and Farms was a three-day photo exhibition that showcased the diverse facets of agricultural changes in periurban Bengaluru.