Dr Sally Brooks

MA (ISS, Erasmus), MSc (Sussex), DPhil (IDS, 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

  • International development
  • Food and agriculture
  • Private sector and development
  • Science, technology and development
  • The policy process

Academic biography

I am a development social scientist with more than 20 years experience in international development as a researcher, teacher and practitioner.

My research bridges the fields of development studies and science and technology studies (STS) to critically examine decision making processes in globalised research and development networks and programmes, with a particular focus on the role of new development actors, including private sector actors and ‘philanthrocapitalists’. 

I am the programme director for the online MPA International Development and convene modules on Social and Political Issues in Development, Governance and Public Administration, and Policy Analysis and Process.

I have previously lived and worked in Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and Cambodia; in a variety of roles in non-governmental organisations working in rural community development, micro-enterprise, peace building, human rights, gender and development, and the training of development managers.


My research can be summarised by the following three thematic areas:

Private sector, 'philanthrocapitalism' and development

The role of private philanthropy - particularly the new philanthropy or 'philanthrocapitalism' - and the private sector in development has been a core theme in my research to date. In my current research I am exploring trends towards a greater role for private finance, and financial markets and products, in development in the post-2015 era.

International agricultural research - institutions, knowledge, politics

This research employs a multi-sited ethnographic methodology to follow actors, ideas and projects through globalised interdisciplinary 'research for development' networks, particularly in the biosciences, with a focus on how 'partnership' is understood and enacted; how scientific and policy uncertainties are dealt with; and how 'impact' is conceptualised and communicated to stakeholders and publics.

Agricultural innovation, food security and environmental change

This research explores challenges facing smallholder farmers in the context of climate and market uncertainties; and the politics and policy processes surrounding different types of response at multiple scales: from international programmes of crop research (including transgenic or 'GM' crops) to local innovations by farmers themselves.

Recent publications

Journal articles

Brooks, S. (2016) Inducing Food Insecurity: Financialisation and Development in the Post-2015 era, Third World Quarterly, 37 (5). First 50 receive a free copy http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/dWWUgPpcgaezfjyAw2VR/full  or download the author accepted manuscript here: article (PDF , 660kb)

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

Gabor, D. and Brooks, S. (2016) The digital revolution in financial inclusion: international development in the fintech era, New Political Economy, Available online.

Brooks, S. and Roberts, E. (2015) ‘Simultaneous Immersion’: How online postgraduate study contributes to the development of reflective practice among public service practitioners, Interactive Learning Environments article (PDF , 483kb)

Brooks, S. (2014) Enabling Adaptation? Lessons from the new 'Green Revolution' in Malawi and Kenya, Climatic Change, 12(1), 15-26 [DOI: 10.1007/s10584-013-0992-0]. Article (PDF) 

Brooks, S. (2013) Biofortification: lessons from the Golden Rice project, Food Chain, 3(1), 77-88. article (PDF , 335kb)

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

Brooks, S. and Loevinsohn, M.E. (2011) Shaping Agricultural Innovation Systems Responsive to Food Insecurity and Climate Change, Natural Resources Forum, 5 (3) 185-200. Available online via Wiley.

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. Article (PDF).

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

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

Book (monograph)

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

Book chapters

Brooks, S. (2015) Philanthrocapitalism, ‘pro-poor’ agricultural biotechnology and development, in B. Morvaridi (Ed.) New Philanthropy, Social Justice and Social Policy: 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 Bodies, Farnham: Ashgate. Chapter (PDF)
Brooks, S. and Johnson-Beebout, S.E. (2012) Contestation as continuity? Biofortification research and the CGIAR. In Sumberg, J. and Thompson, J. (Eds.) Contested Agronomy: Agricultural Research in a Changing World. London: Routledge.

Working papers and reports

Brooks, S. (2013) Investing in Food Security? Philanthrocapitalism, biotechnology and development. SPRU Working Paper Series, SWPS 2013-12, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research: Brighton, November 2013. Available online [PDF].

Brooks, S. and Loevinsohn, M.E. (2011) Shaping Agricultural Innovation Systems Responsive to Food Insecurity and Climate Change, Background Paper to the World Economic and Social Survey (WESS) 2011, New York: UNDESA. Available online (PDF)

Millstone, E., Thompson, J. and Brooks, S. (2009) Reforming the Global Food and Agriculture System: Towards a Questioning Agenda for the New Manifesto, STEPS Working Paper 26, Brighton: STEPS Centre. Available online [PDF].

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. Available online [PDF].

Brooks, S., Leach M., Lucas, H. and Millstone, E. (2009) Silver Bullets, Grand Challenges and the New Philanthropy, STEPS Working Paper 24, Brighton: STEPS Centre. Available online [PDF].

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

Short articles, seminars and blogs

GM crops and the Developing World: Opposing sides miss the bigger picture, The Conversation, 12 November 2005.

Financing the Sustainable Development Goals: Reflections on FfD3, Wicked Issues Blog, University of York.

Private finance and the post-2015 development agenda, openDemocracy, 23 May 2015.

"We are what we eat, we're all in trouble". Public discussion on the politics and economics of food consumption and production organized by the International Institute for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE), Bristol, 21 January 2015.

Is there a need for Golden Rice? Friends of John Innes Centre event, Norwich Biosciences Institute, 29 January 2014.

Enabling Adaptation? Lessons from the new 'Green revolution in Malawi and Kenya,' in Africa Adaptation Knowledge Network (AAKNet) Newsletter No. 6 (June - July 2014).

Investing in Food security?  Philanthrocapitalism, biotechnology and development, SPRU Friday Seminar, Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex, 15 November 2013.

Investing in Food Security? On philanthrocapitalism, biotechnology and development. Open Democracy, 18 July 2013.

'Golden Rice' and the GM Crop debate STEPS Centre Blog 'The Crossing', 24 June 2013.

Biofortification and the biopolitics of sustainable development, SOAS Food Forum, University of London, 8 March 2013.

'Golden Rice': a golden opportunity? STEPS Centre Blog 'The Crossing', 20 April 2011.

Biosafety regulation: Lessons from Kenya and the Philippines, STEPS Centre Policy Brief, November 2010.

Opening up the GM Crop Debate, People and Science, March 2010.

Conference papers

White, S., Brooks, S., Gabor, D., Klein, E. and Mills, C. (2016) 'Psy-expertise, behavioural economics and the new politics of the personal in international development’. Co-convened panel at Development Studies Association (DSA) University of Oxford, UK. Link here
Gabor, D. and Brooks, S. (2016) 'The digital revolution in financial inclusion'. Presented at 4S/EAAST 2016: Society for Social Studies of Science/ European Association for the Study of Science & Technology. CCIB Barcelona. Link here
Gabor, D. and Brooks, S. (2016) “The digital revolution in financial(ised) inclusion” Presented at a national workshop 'Big and Open Data for Development' hosted by the Centre for Development Bioinformatics, University of Manchester, UK. Link here
Brooks, S. and Mawdsley, E. (2015) 'Finance, financialisation and development'. Co-convened panel at Development Studies Association (DSA), University of Bath, UK
Brooks, S. (2013) “Private finance and the post 2015 development agenda”. Paper presented at Global Governance and the Politics of Aid Symposium. University of Bradford, UK.
Brooks, S. (2012) ‘Agricultural biotechnology and development', paper presented at 4S/EAAST 2012: Society for Social Studies of Science/ European Association for the Study of Science & Technology. Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
Brooks, S. (2011) ‘Shaping Agricultural Innovation Systems Responsive to Food Insecurity and Climate Change.’ Paper presented at Tropentag 2011:University of Bonn, Germany.

Dr Sally Brooks

Contact details

Dr Sally Brooks

Tel: +44 (0) 1904 321258