1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Our Approach


UNRISD undertakes cross-country, multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues, guided by the conviction that effective development policies depend crucially on an understanding of the social and political context.

We have a long and consistent tradition of examining the—often neglected—social drivers and impacts of structural and social change processes, and of particular development strategies and policies.


UNRISD research has frequently challenged mainstream development ideas, providing alternative development visions and policy options. As a result, over almost half a century, our research has shaped major shifts in thinking on critical development issues including: social indicators of development, gender, participation, civil society and social movements, identity and conflict, corporate accountability, social policy and the social impacts of globalization.

Through our autonomous status and institutional location within the UN system, UNRISD exercises remarkable convening power across academia, policy communities and civil society from around the world, and has unique opportunities to engage with and influence current policy debates.