silver jigsaw globe

We have embedded interdisciplinarity in our everyday practice by establishing our Research Centres not simply as hubs of engagement across the specialisms of the School of Politics and International Studies, but as hubs that develop new interdisciplinary networks beyond the social sciences.

We are also expanding our collaborations across the University regarding research projects, postgraduate supervision, and interdisciplinary degree programme development. Our researchers take on roles on the Academic Advisory Boards of interdisciplinary clusters, such as the Leeds University Centre of African Studies (LUCAS) and the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA).

To sustain this interdisciplinary activity the School has successfully supported staff to engage in the design, development, and leadership of large interdisciplinary consortia that have attracted over £27m addressing global priorities.

Core areas of interdisciplinary activity include:

Climate change

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the largest global challenges and researchers in the Centre for Global Development and the Centre for Global Security Challenges work together with key global actors including the UN and World Bank advising on climate change and the SDGs. Our work explores how the action on climate change goals interacts with the other SDGs, including both synergies and conflicts. Our research also provides empirically-rich understandings of local perspectives and knowledge about climate change including work using participatory approaches, such as in women’s adaption to climate change in Kenya. Our researchers have examined the scope for ‘Just Transition’ away from fossil field industries, working with Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC) and the Priestley International Centre for Climate to contribute to the UK government’s submissions to the COP26 climate talks. POLIS has research collaborations with the Lancaster Environment Centre, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, the University of Glasgow and the University of Arizona.

Food systems and agricultural strengthening

Our work exposes the political and economic nature of the agrarian transformations in Africa including the revival of agricultural cooperatives and attention to food sovereignty as a break from food security. This work includes engagement in major interdisciplinary consortia, including the Leeds-led GCRF-AFRICAP (Agricultural and Food-system Resilience: Increasing Capacity and Advising Policy), a major programme to make agriculture and food production in sub-Saharan Africa more productive, sustainable and resilient to climate change.

Global Health

Collaborative engagements across the Centre for Global Security Challenges (CGSC) and Centre for Global Development (CGD) have established the School of Politics and International Studies as one of the biggest hubs of Political Science and International Relations scholars working on global health security in the UK, and one of the largest globally. Our research strengthens health systems and service delivery and has directly influenced the way policy makers understand health challenges and also how they formulate and implement policy interventions. Key areas of focus include health security, health systems strengthening, gender and health, and the political economy of health. Our staff have co-authored outputs in leading journals in the fields of public health (BMJ, Social Science and Medicine), medical biology (Sexual Health), and epidemiology (Lancet, International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Globalization and Health). Development specialists in CGD and security scholars in CGSC have established an official collaboration with the WHO, beginning in 2021, through which we can transition towards becoming an Official WHO Collaboration Centre, working on its new ‘Health Systems for Health Security’ framework to provide research and evidence.

Infectious diseases and pandemic response

Our researchers have produced original and policy-relevant insights into the politics and governance of infectious diseases and strengthening pandemic response, including specific work on COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and neglected tropical infectious diseases (NTIDs). Scholars in the Centre for Global Security Challenges and the Centre for Global Development have contributed to the UK Cabinet Office COVID-19 Response Roundtable and have submitted  written evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee's inquiry, ‘Global health security’, and also Jubilee Australia’s report exploring the impact of COVID-19 on Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Water and sanitation

Our research focuses on the power, resources and politics that shapes how water is distributed and governed through human societies. Our work is necessarily interdisciplinary and we work closely with the School of Civil Engineering and School of Earth and Environment. The Centre for Global Development is part of the Newcastle-led GCRF the GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub and the GCRF “Off Grid Cities” project working across Peru, South Africa, Kenya, and Haiti.

Inclusive education systems

Access to effective governance and justice structures is important. Working with education specialists and practitioners, our research investigates and promotes education institutions and systems that recognise and value everybody’s rights, everybody’s situation and everybody’s needs. This means balancing responsibility with rights, as well as creating mechanisms which address power imbalances between those who hold positions of power and control, and those who do not. We believe that understanding of particular contexts is critical and our current work focuses particularly on India through the RAISE and P2N projects.