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Dr Sally Brooks

MA (ISS, Erasmus Rotterdam), MSc (Sussex), DPhil (Institute of Development Studies, Sussex)

  • Honorary Fellow

Visit Dr Sally Brooks' profile on the York Research Database to see a full list of publications and browse her research related activities.


Areas of expertise

  • Global development 
  • Technology and agrarian change
  • Philanthropic foundations
  • Environment and development
  • Rural politics

Academic biography

I joined the academic staff at York in 2012 from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex where I was a researcher with the STEPS centre. Prior to that I had worked as an international development practitioner and consultant for many years. I was Programme Director of the online MPA International Development between 2014 and 2017 and Senior Research Fellow on the Social Transformative Research Informing Processes of Environmental Science (STRIPES) project between 2018 and 2020. I am a member of the York Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre (IGDC).

I am a member of the Council of Global Justice Now and the Academic Advisory Group of Another Europe is Possible.


My research interests fall into two main areas: 

  • Political economy of development: This research critically examines decision making in hybrid networks formed around technocratic visions of ‘development’ and agrarian change in the Global South. The influencial role of philanthropic foundations has been a recurring theme. Past projects researched interventions in smallholder agriculture, international crop research (biofortified rice and drought tolerant maize) and digital financial inclusion (‘fintech’). This work has been published in Economy and Society, New Political Economy, Business and Society, Sociologia Ruralis, The Journal of Peasant Studies, Third World Quarterly, Climatic Change, various edited collections, and the monograph Rice Biofortification: Lessons for Global Science and Development (Earthscan/Routledge 2010).
  • Authoritarian populism in rural Europe: I belong to the Emancipatory Rural Populism Initiative (ERPI)-Europe scholar-activist network. My contributions include an analysis of rural drivers of support for Brexit, in a special issue of Sociologia Ruralis (60(4), October 2020); and a co-authored article on varieties of “actually existing” right-wing populism in rural Europe in Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World, (Routledge 2021, originally published in The Journal of Peasant Studies.)

Recent publications

Selected publications

Brooks, S. & Meçe, M.H. (2022)  The impact of rural emptiness on gender relations in postsocialist Albania , Sociologia Ruralis, DOI: 10.1111/soru.12416

Kirshner, J., Brown, E., Dunlop, L., Franco Cairo, J.P., Redeker, K., Veneu, F. Brooks, S., Kirshner, S., Walton, P.H. (2022) “A future beyond sugar”: Examining second- generation biofuel pathways in Alagoas, northeast Brazil, Environmental Development, DOI: 10.1016/j.envdev.2022.100739

Brooks, S. and Kumar, A. (2021) Why the Super-Rich Will Not Be Saving the World: Philanthropy and “Privatization Creep” in Global DevelopmentBusiness and Society, DOI 10.1177/00076503211053608 

Brooks, S. (2021) Configuring the digital farmer: A nudge world in the making?Economy and Society, 50(3), 374-396

Kumar, A. and Brooks, S. (2021) The power of private philanthropy in international developmentDeveloping Economics, 10 May 2021

Kumar, A. and Brooks, S. (2021) Bridges, platforms and satellites: theorizing the power of global philanthropy in international developmentEconomy and Society, 50(2), 322-345

Mamonova, N., Franquesa, J, & Brooks, S. (2020) ‘Actually Existing’ Right-Wing Populism in Rural Europe: Insights from Eastern Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ukraine, Journal of Peasant Studies, 47(7) 1497-1525. Also in Scoones, I., Edelman, M., Borras Jr., S. M., Forero, L.F., Hall, R., Wolford, W., White, B. (Eds)  Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World (Routledge 2022, pp. 420-447)

Brooks, S. (2020) Brexit and the politics of the ruralSociologia Ruralis, 60(4) 790-809

Brooks, S. (2018) Behavioural Nudges: Mildly Paternalistic or a Threat to Economic Justice for the Poor? Next Billion (18 May 2018)

Gabor, D. and Brooks, S. (2017) The digital revolution in financial inclusion: international development in the fintech eraNew Political Economy, 22(4) 423-436

Brooks, S. (2016) Inducing food insecurity: financialisation and development in the post-2015 eraThird World Quarterly, 37(5) 768-780

Brooks, S. (2016) Private finance and the post-2015 development agendaDevelopment Finance Agenda, 1(3) 24-27 (January 2016)

Brooks, S. and Roberts, E. (2016) ‘Simultaneous Immersion’: How online postgraduate study contributes to the development of reflective practice among public service practitionersInteractive Learning Environments, 24(7) 1692-1705

Brooks, S. (2015) GM crops and the developing world: opposing sides miss the bigger pictureThe Conversation (12 November 2015)

Brooks, S. (2014) Enabling Adaptation? Lessons from the new ‘Green Revolution’ in Malawi and KenyaClimatic Change, 122(1-2) 15-26

Brooks, S. (2013) Biofortification: lessons from the Golden Rice projectFood Chain, 3(1-2) 77-88

Brooks, S. (2015) Philanthrocapitalism,  ‘pro-poor’ agricultural biotechnology and development, in B. Morvaridi (Ed.) New Philanthropy and Social Justice: Debating the conceptual and policy discourse Policy Press: Bristol

Brooks, S., D. Burges Watson, A. Draper, M. Goodman, H. Kvalvaag and W. Wills (2013) Chewing on Choice, in Abbots, E-J & Lavis, A (Eds.) Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and BodiesFarnham: Ashgate

Krätli, S., Huelsebusch, C., Brooks, S. and Kaufmann, B. (2013) Pastoralism: a critical asset for food security under global climate changeAnimal Frontiers, 3(1) 42-50

Brooks, S. (2013) Investing in Food Security? Philanthrocapitalism, Biotechnology and Development (November 1, 2013). SPRU Working Paper Series (SWPS) 2013-12

Brooks, S. and Johnson-Beebout, S.E. (2012) Contestation as continuity? Biofortification research and the CGIAR. In In Sumberg, J. and Thompson, J. (Eds.) Contested Agronomy: Agricultural Research in a Changing World. Abingdon: Routledge (pp. 86-101). Free to download from Scoones, I. (2017, Ed.) FreeBook: Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture, Abingdon: Routledge (pp. 83-101)

Brooks, S. and Loevinsohn, M.E. (2011) Shaping Agricultural Innovation Systems Responsive to Food Insecurity and Climate ChangeNatural Resources Forum, 5(3) 185-200

Brooks, S. (2011) ‘Is International Agricultural Research a Global Public Good? The Case of Rice Biofortification’, Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(1) 67-80

Brooks, S. (2011) ‘Living with Materiality or Confronting Asian Diversity? The Case of Iron-Biofortified Rice Research in the Philippines’East Asian Science, Technology and Society (EASTS), 5(2) 173–188

Brooks, S. (2010) Rice Biofortification: Lessons for Global Science and Development. London: Earthscan

Brooks, S., Thompson J., Odame H., Kibaara B., Nderitu S., Karin F. and Millstone, E. (2009) Environmental Change and Maize Innovation in Kenya: Exploring Pathways in and out of Maize, STEPS Working Paper 36, Brighton: STEPS Centre

Brooks, S., Leach M., Lucas, H. and Millstone, E. (2009) Silver Bullets, Grand Challenges and the New PhilanthropySTEPS Working Paper 24, Brighton: STEPS Centre

Brooks, S. (2008) Global Science, Public Goods? Tracing International Science Policy Processes in Rice Biofortification, PhD Thesis, Brighton: University of Sussex

Brooks, S. (2005) ‘Biotechnology and the Politics of Truth: From the Green Revolution to an Evergreen Revolution’Sociologia Ruralis, 45(4) 360-379

Brooks, S. (1996) Small Business Development in Papua New Guinea: Lessons, Department of Environment and Conservation/United Nations Development Programme, OPS-PNG/93/G31













Contact details

Dr Sally Brooks
Honorary Fellow