Transformational gift set to redefine global development research for the 21st century at University of Manchester

The Global Development Institute (GDI) at The University of Manchester has received a further transformational donation of £2 million from the Rory and Elizabeth Brooks Foundation.

The gift, which is the most recent donation to the University from the Foundation, will deliver an ambitious programme of work aimed at redefining the role of global development research in the 21st century. This supports the GDI’s overarching mission of addressing global inequalities and promoting a socially just world for all.

The gift aims to build equitable partnerships between the GDI, one of the foremost development studies research institutions globally and Universities across the developing world. The GDI aims to reshape, and lead by example, the way that leading North-based universities work with Global South partners to ensure knowledge creation is co-created.

Activity funded by the gift includes a new policy lab – aimed at translating academic research into policy change – and the creation of new PhD studentships focused on climate change and poverty reduction.

Recent GDI research has encouraged the UK government to launch new development programmes worth £270 million, catalysed improved gender equality for one million women working the supply chains of companies such as Nike and Marks & Spencer, and has resulted in improved life expectancy for over 3,750 Indonesians at risk of cardiovascular disease.

Professor Sam Hickey, Head of the GDI said: “The gift from the Rory and Elizabeth Brooks foundation will enable us to transform the ways in which global development institutes like ours operate.

“We want to do this by targeting new Global South partnerships. This is where we move beyond very short-term income-led forms of partnership, to much more durable and equitable relationships. The aim is to ensure that scholars in the Global South have a larger and louder voice in setting research and teaching agendas around global development, which has previously been captured very much by northern based academics.”

This new activity will build on the GDI’s track record of learning from and amplifying academic voices from across the globe. Gig economy workers in Ghana and Bangladesh are benefiting from the efforts of GDI researchers who are helping to rank platforms like Uber and Upwork. These rankings are driving up pay and conditions for workers in a wider range of low-income countries.

Gerald Arhin, a PhD researcher based at the GDI, is using his research to drive policy change in order to ensure that communities in his home country of Ghana benefit from prosperity brought to the country from the mining industry.

“The people who are really short-changed are often the local people. In order to make sure the local people benefit, it is important that their views are elevated to a level where they have a greater say in governance,” said Gerald.

“The University is number one in terms of research towards sustainable development goals. I have no doubt in mind that the nature of the GDI is contributing immensely towards this.”

The Brooks’ extraordinary contribution reflects a deep commitment to promoting sustainable development and social justice worldwide.

Rory Brooks is co-founder of the international private equity group MML Capital Partners. Rory graduated from UMIST (now The University of Manchester) in 1975 and serves on the Charity Commission. He was the donor member of the Pearce Review into philanthropy in Higher Education in 2012 and was awarded the CBE in 2015.

Rory Brooks said: “Philanthropy, at its best, should be used to catalyse new and bold activity that is less likely to be funded through traditional channels. We are very encouraged and pleased to be able to support the ambitious plan of the GDI to recast global development research in partnership with Institutions around the world.”

The gift follows a recent £1.5 million gift to The University of Manchester from alumnus and businessman Simon Sadler, which will provide life-changing financial support for care leaver students.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor said: “The University of Manchester owes its very existence to philanthropy. As we step into our third century, philanthropic gifts play a critical part in delivering our goal of creating a healthier, fairer and more sustainable future.”

The University of Manchester, renowned for its commitment to excellence in research and education, is the home of the Global Development Institute. This significant donation underscores the University’s position as a leader in addressing complex global challenges and underscores its ongoing dedication to making a positive impact on society.

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