Center for Development Research (ZEF)

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The Center for Development Research (ZEF) is an international and trans-disciplinary scientific research institute at the University of Bonn, Germany.

ZEF’s overall goal is to contribute with its research and education to enhancing sustainable human development and combating poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. ZEF also strives to strengthen international development research. It therefore cooperates closely with researchers and experts from all over the world in the fields of development policy and cooperation.

ZEF has three research departments: Political and cultural change; Economic and technological change; Ecology and natural resources management. These three departments are interconnected by the following eight crosscutting research themes: Science policy, governance, water resources, land use and food security, renewable energy, environmental and climate change, mobility and migration, health and sanitation. In addition, disciplinary research is being conducted within the departments and projects.

ZEF follows an integrative and trans-disciplinary research approach: natural and social scientists together with economists devise research questions and solutions in close cooperation with local partners. Trans-disciplinary research thus bridges the gaps between:  disciplinary research fields; research and politics; research and practice.

ZEF is currently running larger research programs in West and East Africa, Southeast and Central Asia as well as in South America.  ZEF has a strong focus on human, academic, and institutional capacity building. Following up on its long-term research activities, the Center has been building capacity development partnerships with academic institutions and networks in its project regions over the years.  With its international doctoral program, ZEF aims to educate a new generation of academics as well as decision-makers for national and international policy and research organizations. Its international and interdisciplinary set-up as well as its size make this program unique in Germany and Europe.