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ZEF - Center for Development Research, University of Bonn

The Center for Development Research (ZEF) was founded in 1995 and started its actual research activities in 1997. ZEF's research aims at finding solutions to global development issues.


ZEF's organizational structure


ZEF has, in accordance with its three major research areas, three departments, which work conjointly. The three departmental heads form the ZEF Board of Directors. The directors of ZEFConsult and UNU-EHS are ex-officio members of the directorate. ZEF is an institute affiliated to the University of Bonn by being directly subordinated to the University's senate. The three departments cooperate closely with the University's respective faculties. The work of the Center is supported by an external, international Advisory Board, which was inaugurated in 1999. On the strenght of its members' professional competence and reputation, the Board has the task and responsibilty of monitoring and evaluate ZEF's activities as well as advising and supporting the Center in its current work and future strategy.




By covering three main research areas, which are interrelated through interdisciplinary research projects, ZEF offers a broad and integrated perspective on development. Since development is rarely constrained by a single problem within a single discipline, ZEF works on crosscutting themes of central importance for the developing world. The research programs build on the methods and analytical styles of the disciplinary research areas and link and integrate knowledge and capacities from these different areas. ZEF's three research departments are:

  • Political and Cultural Change (ZEF A)
  • Economic and Technological Change (ZEF B)
  • Ecology and Natural Resources Management (ZEF C)

Results of ZEF's research are published in its own book series, in the ZEF Discussion Papers on Development Policy, in renowned academic journals and books.


Capacity Building


Through its Bonn International Graduate School for Development Research (BIGS -DR), ZEF contributes to strengthening the international development research community in Germany, Europe and the developing world. The program is educating highly qualified academic staff, advisers, and managers for both the private and public sectors. In its size and concept, the program is unique, and has already become an institution with an internationally renowned reputation.


Policy Dialogue, Policy Consulting and Public Awareness


ZEF's research, advisory work and other activities are carried out in close cooperation with national and international partners. ZEF's policy consulting is conducted by ZEFConsult. In addition, ZEF maintains an active dialogue with representatives from governmental and non-governmental bodies, with national and international organizations for development cooperation as well with the private and business sectors. To support its objectives and tasks, ZEF organizes international conferences, expert rounds and Public Lectures on development issues. In addition, ZEF publishes Policy Briefs which are relevant for policy-makers and, for a broader audience, a newsletter (ZEF news) as well as an Annual Report. The ZEF homepage provides up-to-date information on ZEF's activities and staff.


International Networking


Collaboration with outstanding academics and scientists from research centers in developing countries as well as other countries all over the world is an important part of the partnership effort. About 50% of ZEF's staff is recruited internationally. ZEF strives at involving both private sector and government organizations in development cooperation to benefit from its activities.


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