in: Isa Baud / Elisabetta Basile / Tiina Kontinen / Susanne von Itter (eds.): Building development studies for the new millennium (EADI Global Development Series), Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 337-359
A major motive of development studies is to understand the root causes of poverty and its reproduction and how social inequalities emerge and are stabilized. Most research on social inequalities today largely ignores the environmental dimension of changes in human development. Recent environmental research shows that the cumulative environmental impacts of human activity are likely to make the earth uninhabitable for the human species. Future strategies for ensuring human prosperity at global level will thus require considerable investment in research that improves understanding of the social practices, rules and institutions, and power relations that define human use of nature and the dynamics of its transformation. Social environmental research thus offers insights that are crucial for development studies in the 21st century.