November 9-11, 2018
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Conference registration is now closed.

Final program and participant list can be viewed HERE.


Sustainable development, as a concept and call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and guarantee human well-being, is perhaps the greatest challenge facing humanity. The complexity of the meanings of sustainable development have meant that many scholars, researchers, decision makers, and practitioners see in it diverse ways in which to aspire for and achieve societal goals. Scholarly research, student training, and new opportunities for meaningful change continue to increase, especially with the United Nations-sponsored Sustainable Development Goals finding traction with governments and NGOs alike.

In collaboration with the journal World Development, this international conference on Sustainability and Development seeks to bring together a diverse and interdisciplinary constituency to engage with the best approaches and means to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and assess progress towards them. We received over 2,200 abstracts for oral presentations, lightning talks, panel sessions, posters, and workshops. Abstracts were reviewed for for conference theme fit, and a draft program will be shared in late October.

Keynote Speaker for the 2018 Inaugural SD Conference
Bina Agarwal
Saturday, November 10th

Dr. Bina Agarwal is Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK.  Educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Delhi, she has held distinguished teaching and research positions at many universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Michigan, Minnesota (as the Winton Chair), and the New York University School of Law. Agarwal’s research contributions cover both theory and empirical analysis, with a particular focus on the most disadvantaged. An economist with a keen interest in interdisciplinary and intercountry explorations, her publications include 12 books and 84 academic papers. She writes especially from a political economy and gender perspective on diverse but interconnected subjects, such as property, land rights and livelihoods; environmental governance, sustainable development and collective action; agriculture, technology and food security; poverty and institutional transformation; legal change; and intersecting inequalities.

  • The meeting will open with a roundtable discussion on Careers and Opportunities in Sustainability and Development. Panelists include:


Catherine Harris, Acre                  Shelie Miller, University of Michigan          Patrick Doran, The Nature Conservancy


Cris Doby, Erb Family Foundation                                           Samuel Passmore, Mott Foundation

  • The meeting will close with a stellar roundtable panel of keynote presentations by:


Agnes Quisumbing, IFPRI                      Marlene WolfeTufts University                   Eleanor Allen, Water for People


Isabella Bakker, York University                        Ana María Ibanez, Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia)

  • Editors of five journals (World Development, Landscape and Urban Planning, Food Policy, Ecological Economics, and Ecology and Society) will be available to speak with and advise conference participants. We will work with interested journal editors on developing special issues around relevant sustainability and development themes, stay tuned!
  • Expedited paper review appointments with the Editor in Chief of World Development. Selections for these spots will be made via random lottery. Sign up HERE by October 8. Notifications will go out by October 31. These appointments are short (10 minute) sessions with the editor who will briefly review your paper and provide comments on its suitability for submission for publication.
  • UPDATE: World Development Special Issue Submission: At this time, only those who present their paper at the SDC are invited to submit their paper for special issue consideration. Presenters can submit their paper via the main World Development submission portal (EES). Under submission type, please select “*Invitation Only* SI: S&DMEET2018”. The deadline for submission is now December 31, 2018.  If you wish to share your paper with fellow conference participants, only, you can do so HERE, by November 5, 2018. Paper guidelines for both submission options can be found HERE.
  • In addition, we will work with many of the conference participants to plan for future activities and engage as many researchers as possible in our specific plans. We see this meeting as the start of a significant engagement between researchers and practitioners working on sustainability and development.

Coordination Committee:

Arun Agrawal, School for Environment and Sustainability
Kelly Askew, Anthropology
Jennifer Blesh, School for Environment and Sustainability
Bilal Butt, School for Environment and Sustainability
Meg Daupan, School for Environment and Sustainability

Ivan Eastin, School for Environment and Sustainability
Joe Eisenberg, School of Public Health
Leela Fernandes, Women’s Studies Political Science
Mary Gallagher, Political Science
Elisabeth Gerber, School of Public Policy, Political Science
Allen Hicken, Political Science
Meha Jain, School for Environment and Sustainability
Pauline Jones, Political Science
Ken Kollman, Political Science
Larissa Larsen, Urban Planning
Maria Carmen Lemos, School for Environment and Sustainability
Nancy Love, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Shelie Miller, School for Environment and Sustainability
Brian Min, Political Science
Josh Newell, School for Environment and Sustainability
Anne Pitcher, Afroamerican and African Studies, Political Science
Lutgarde Raskin, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Elizabeth Roberts, Anthropology
Cristy Watkins, School for Environment and Sustainability

World Development Editorial Advisory Board:

Sabina Alkire, University of Oxford
Kojo Amanor, University of Ghana
Christopher B. Barrett, Cornell University
Michael Bratton, Michigan State University
Axel Dreher, Heidelberg University
Jean Dreze, Ranchi Universit
Christelle Dumas, Université de Fribourg
Eliana La Ferrara, Università Bocconi
Ana María Ibanez, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
Pamela Jagger, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Stephan Klasen, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Melissa Leach, University of Sussex
Christian Lund, University of Copenhagen
Katharina Michaelowa, Universität Zürich
Sophie Mitra, Fordham University
Jonathan Morduch, NYU Wagner
David Mosse, University of London
Susan Parker, University of Maryland
Daniel Posner, University of California at Los Angeles
Agnes Quisumbing, IFPRI
Vijayendra Rao, World Bank
Martin Ravallion, Georgetown University
Helle Munk Ravnborg, University of Copenhagen
Mireille Razafindrakoto, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement
Karen Seto, Yale University
Sheona Shackleton, Rhodes University
Rainer Thiele, The Kiel Institute for the World Economy
Thierry Verdier, Paris School of Economics
Jackline Wahba, University of Southampton
Leonard Wantchekon, Princeton University
Matthew S. Winters, University of Illinois

World Development Associate Editors:

Anthony Bebbington, Clark University, Melbourne University
Catherine Boone, London School of Economics
Michael Clemens, Center for Global Development
Jean-Philippe Platteau, Université de Namur


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