Center for Development Research

Genscherallee 3, 53113 Bonn,

The Center for Development Research (ZEF) is an international and trans-disciplinary scientific research institute at the University of Bonn which started its research activities in 1997.

ZEF aims to contribute to sustainable development and poverty alleviation in the Global South through its interdisciplinary research and education and is one of the most renowned development research institutions in Germany and worldwide. More than 50 international post-doctoral researchers and around 130 international doctoral students work at ZEF and in the various project countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In the field of biodiversity research, it focusses on strategies that utilize synergies between nature conservation, food security and poverty alleviation as well as conflicts that might appear today and under future climate change.

Further, the Bonn International Graduate School for Development Research (BIGS-DR) is a structured doctoral program at ZEF. The program is part of a framework of international graduate programs at the University of Bonn that maintains the highest level of academic quality and doctoral training. BIGS-DR enables doctoral studies in outstanding development research with attractive international collaborations and a tailored qualification program. BIGS-DR is an excellent choice as a stepping stone for your international career in the field of development cooperation, policy or research.

ZEF has three research departments focusing on:

  • Political and cultural change
  • Economic and technological change
  • Ecology and natural resources management.

The three departments are interconnected by crosscutting research themes: Land, water, food and energy; Health, nutrition and ecosystems; Governance, conflicts, and natural resources; Mobility, migration and urbanization; Markets and public services; Innovation, knowledge and science policy. Disciplinary research is conducted within our departments and projects. New research projects and proposals for doctoral theses have to fit into ZEF’s research agenda.

ZEF applies an integrative and trans-disciplinary research approach. Natural and social scientists devise research questions and solutions together with economists and in close cooperation with local partners.

Trans-disciplinary research bridges the gaps between:

  • Disciplinary research fields
  • Research and politics
  • Research and practice



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