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2018 Gates Scholars for Centre of Development Studies Announced

last modified Apr 12, 2018 01:48 PM

Congratulations to Ms Tessa Laing and Mr Dillon Muhly-Alexander who have been awarded the GATES Cambridge scholarship to commence their programmes this October.

Ms Laing, from New Zealand, will be commencing the PhD programme focusing on interactions between local government, citizens and international non-governmental organisations in Gulu and the struggle to transform a key aspect of local service delivery: absenteeism amongst teachers and health workers.

Mr Muhly-Alexander, from West Virginia, USA, will be completing the MPhil in Development Studies, with interests in food security and accessibility, as well as an appreciation of the impact politics exerts on the economic development process. 

We would also like to congratulate our current MPhil student Papa Momodou Jack who has been awarded a GATES scholarship to study a PhD in Geography.

For further information regarding GATES funding, please check out their website.


Development Studies Academics Take Part in the Official Launch of TIGR2ESS

last modified Apr 05, 2018 12:37 PM



During the week of February 21st Dr Shailaja Fennel and Dr Richard Sidebottom from the Centre of Development Studies took part in the official launch of the TIGR2ESS (Transforming India's Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies) research project in New Delhi, India.

TIGR2ESS spans multiple disciplines across Cambridge University and includes numerous Academic and Civil society partners in India. Led by Professor Howard Griffiths and funded by the Global Challenges Research fund, TIGR2ESS seeks to frame new understandings of a new Green Revolution scientific and social science approaches designed to empower stakeholders through participation, education and capacity building.


last modified Mar 07, 2018 11:46 AM


Cambridge has been home to many researchers working on the Capability Approach. In 2016 we launched a new series of annual capability conferences along similar lines as the early capability conferences that we initiated back in 2001. The main objective was to recreate the intimate intellectual atmosphere, in-depth discussions and time for exchanges, having one hour per paper and no parallel sessions. While a wide range of papers were presented in the first conference of June 2016 (CCC1) and the second conference in June 2017 (CCC2), the overall focus in the former was on taking stock of new initiatives in theoretical and practical approaches to capability approach and the latter was on challenges and dilemmas of measuring and using social choice theory framework. The results of the last two conferences were beyond our expectations in terms of academic interaction and outputs and a book with the best papers of the first CCC is being published by Cambridge University Press this summer. The best papers of the second CCC should also be published.

The focus of our third conference will be on the elaboration and use of capability indicators and other human development and sustainability indicators. We have the privilege of having Professor Mozaffar Qizilbash to be the key-note speaker of the third CCC. Professor Qizilbash is no stranger to scholars familiar with the capability approach. His contributions to both philosophical and measurement issues, the challenges of designing surveys to capture indicators of dimensions of freedoms are well-known.

The conference will be hosted by the Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge (Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road) during 22-23 June 2018. There will be a conference fee of £15. Abstracts (max 500 words) or full papers (max 8,000 words) to be submitted to The selection of the best papers will be carried out by a committee integrated by Dr Flavio Comim, Dr Shailaja Fennell and Dr P B Anand. As with the two previous conferences, preference will be given to original papers exploring issues with capability indicators both in terms of theoretical and practical dimensions but other papers related to the Capability Approach are equally welcome. We intend to publish a book with the best 2018 CCC papers.

Deadline: 23 APRIL 2018.

Please submit papers as email attachment to:


Formal Message from the Vice Chancellor Regarding Giulio Regeni

last modified Jan 17, 2018 12:24 PM

It has been almost two years since the murder of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge student, in Cairo. As we approach this anniversary, we are no nearer to knowing the truth of what happened to this promising post-graduate, tortured and killed while pursuing wholly legitimate academic research. Once again, we recognise the deep pain experienced by Giulio's family, which nothing can relieve.


In our community, the sense of hurt and outrage has not abated. His murder was an affront to all of us. It remains an affront to the values of openness, freedom of thought and freedom of academic enquiry that our University stands for. The heinous manner of Giulio's death has diminished us all.


It has been especially troubling to note that, in the absence of apparent progress in investigations into Giulio's death, attention has been turned to his doctoral supervisor, Dr Maha Abdelrahman - an honourable and distinguished scholar.


An investigation led by Italian authorities, with the help of Cambridgeshire police, is underway. As Giulio's supervisor, Dr Abdelrahman is a witness in this investigation, and has cooperated fully.


It is very disturbing, therefore, to find that she has been the victim of seemingly concerted efforts to implicate her directly in Giulio's death.


Public speculation about Dr Abdelrahman's involvement in the case has been inaccurate, damaging and potentially dangerous. It stems from a fundamental misapprehension about the nature of academic research. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of scholarly aims and methods. It shows a failure to understand the intellectual relationship between a PhD student and his or her supervisor.


It is not uncommon for academic research in the humanities and social sciences to impinge on politically sensitive issues. Giulio was an experienced researcher, who had already spent time in Egypt, and was a fluent Arabic speaker. He was using standard academic methods to study trade unions in Egypt.


Since Giulio's death was confirmed in February 2016, Dr Abdelrahman and the University of Cambridge have repeatedly expressed their willingness to cooperate with the investigation. Last week, Dr Abdelrahman welcomed the opportunity to speak again to Italian investigators in Cambridge - the third time she has answered their questions - and voluntarily handed over material requested by them.


In light of her willingness to assist, the public campaign of denigration, fanned by political expediency, is shameful.


The University has sought all opportunities - public and private, formal and informal - to push for progress in the investigation into Giulio's death. It has urged Egyptian, Italian and British authorities to pursue all avenues of investigation to arrive at the truth.


Throughout, the University has been respectful of legal constraints (including on the ability to comment publicly) posed by the continuing legal process. It has been particularly disappointing, then, to see that the same restraint has not applied in other domains, where the confidentiality of the legal process has been blatantly ignored.


The University will of course continue to assist authorities as they seek justice for Giulio and his family. It will also defend the right of academics to engage in legitimate and lawful research, wherever they wish to do so.


As well as doing everything it can to ensure that the death of one of its students is redressed, the University of Cambridge is committed to ensuring that the reputation and wellbeing of its scholars are always safeguarded.


This brutal killing calls for justice. But justice will not be served by undermining the very thing that drove Giulio in his brief but inspiring academic career - the search for truth.





New Alumni Online Platform Available

last modified Dec 20, 2017 04:25 PM

We are very pleased to announce that a new online alumni platform is available on the Development Studies website. Created by Sebastian Manhart and Will Fairbairn, who completed the MPhil programme here at the Centre in 2015, by joining you will be connected to over 300 alumni from over 60 different countries. This is great way to share news, relevant events and job listings. 

Should you wish to join, be you student or staff, please go to the alumni tab above and click the hyperlink to sign up. 

Centre Team Continue Efforts to Establish Research Partnerships with the University of Rwanda

last modified Nov 14, 2017 01:34 PM

A team from the Centre of Development Studies recently made the second in a series of trips to Rwanda as part of an ongoing effort to establish research partnerships with the University of Rwanda (UR). With the valued assistance of the Alborada Research fund, the Rwanda UK Goodwill Organisation (RUGO) and Professor Albert Bizozi of UR, Jolly Dusabe, Jane Lichtenstein and Richard Sidebottom made presentations to academic staff and students covering their research in agricultural innovation, financial inclusion and entrepreneurship. Fruitful discussions were also held with the Kigali Institute of Education and DiFD officials that will potentially lead to exciting areas of research collaboration.

Winners of the CRIA MPhil Prize Announced

last modified Oct 05, 2017 01:48 PM

Generously supported by the Cambridge Review of International Affairs (CRIA), the Department is delighted to announce the first winners of the CRIA prize for the highest average mark on an MPhil course in 2016-17.

The Cambridge Review of International Affairs is a peer-reviewed journal which publishes original scholarship on international affairs. It is committed to publishing diverse approaches, methods and areas of analysis, and encourages the submission of interdisciplinary work from academics and policymakers.

This year the journal celebrates 30 years of publishing and the prize was launched to mark the occasion. 

The joint winners are Chelsea Donelon and Byron Hewson, who completed the MPhil in Development Studies and the MPhil in Public Policy, respectively. They both achieved an overall mark of 78 and will receive £150 in prize money

'South Koreans Worked a Democratic Miracle. Can They Do It Again?', a new article by Dr Ha-Joon Chang

last modified Sep 15, 2017 09:43 AM

The New York Times has published an article written by our very own Dr Ha-Joon Chang. The article, 'South Koreans Worked a Democratic Miracle. Can They Do It Again?' was published in the 14th September edition, and can be read here:

Tammy Chen 1984-2017

last modified Aug 15, 2017 04:32 PM
The Department wishes to express our profound shock and sadness at the death of our student Tammy Chen
Tammy Chen 1984-2017

The Department Politics and International Studies and the Centre of Development Studies wish to express our profound shock and sadness at the death of our student Tammy Chen in a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso.  Our very deepest sympathy goes out to Tammy’s family and her many friends.

Tammy was finishing a PhD in Development Studies focusing on poverty, gender and women’s empowerment. Staff at the Centre of Development Studies paid tribute to her –

“We are profoundly saddened by the recent killing of our student, friend, and mutual inspiration, Tammy Chen. She was a superlative woman whose steps through life reflect a kind of conviction that few people show, or care to show. Whether she was teaching Canadian anglophones French, or working with impoverished women in Sub-saharan Africa to build new pathways to safety, food security and self-sufficiency, Tammy was an embodiment of what the world should be.  She moved against the grain of injustice and inequality, pushing and breaking through boundaries to make mutual understanding and care for others a foundation of a world that we do, in fact, all share. We hold Tammy, and all that she worked for and was inspired to make, as a model of what a human being should be. She made the Centre of Development Studies, and those around her, better.”

As a member of Gonville and Caius College, Tammy has been remembered as “a bright and enthusiastic student, and a warm and compassionate human being” and a studentship is to be established in her memory. You can read the College’s full tribute to Tammy, here.   

You can read the University's statement here

Student-Led Teaching Awards for Centre of Development Studies Academics

last modified May 23, 2017 03:53 PM

Congratulations to Dr Gay Meeks who won the 'Lecturer' category at the 2017 Student Led Teaching Awards. Recognition was also given to Dr Richard Sidebottom, who was also short listed.  The Awards are organised by the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU). This year they received 590 nominations from students eager to reward and celebrate the outstanding efforts of lecturing, teaching, supervising, teaching support and pastoral support staff from across the collegiate university. 


Dr Maryam Tanwir appointed High Level Track Facilitator at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum

last modified Apr 26, 2017 03:38 PM

We are pleased to announce that Dr Maryam Tanwir has been appointed as High

Level Track Facilitator at the World Summit on the Information Society



The main role of the HLTFs is to moderate high level policy sessions and

provide written executive summaries based on interventions and discussion

during the session, while capturing the vision, identifying emerging

trends, opportunities and challenges shared by the high level speakers.

QS Survey 2017

last modified Mar 08, 2017 09:09 AM

We are delighted and proud to see that the Centre has gone from no.8 (2015) to no.6 (2016) to no.4 (2017) in the field of Development Studies in the QS Survey. This would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work from everyone within the Centre.

To see the ratings please click here.

Dr Flavio Comim's reading group Lent term 2017

last modified Mar 01, 2017 12:54 PM

'2017 extended edition of Amartya Sen's Collective Choice and Social Welfare'

During Lent term 2017 Dr Comim's reading group covered the first 300 pages of the book corresponding to the new preface and new introduction as the complete revised version of the 1970 version of the book.

David A. Clark has published an article on “Valuing and Revaluing Education” in a special issue of Comparative Education focusing on “Measuring the Unmeasurable in Education’”

last modified Feb 13, 2017 10:19 AM

Dr Clark used primary data to re-evaluate the relevant dimensions of education for measurement purposes by comparing detailed lists of educational capabilities from disparate academic literatures with the values and aspirations of ordinary South Africans from rural and urban areas. His main finding is that most abstract lists need to say more about the practical side of education (skills, information and knowledge for everyday living). They also need to embrace a more joined-up view of education that can incorporate linkages between different aspects of education and between education and other aspects of well-being (including mental states and material things). In the final part of the paper Dr Clark makes the case for embracing the complexity and imprecision involved in measuring education and briefly sketches a methodological framework that can achieve this end.


Clark, D. A. (2017), ‘Valuing and Revaluing Education: What Can We Learn About Measurement from the South African Poor?’, Comparative Education, 53 (1), pp. 54–80.

Available from:

Where did the Dependency Approach Go? - Chris Hope

last modified Feb 13, 2017 09:16 AM

The Review of African Political Economy published on their website a short article that Chris wrote in relation to his research. To read the article please click here.

Horizons Research: Issue 32 featuring Taskeen Adam

last modified Feb 13, 2017 08:08 AM

We were delighted to see Taskeen Adam, PhD student in the Centre of Development Studies, featured in Issue 32 of Horizon Research. The issue focuses on Africa and various topics such as Education, Health, Peace keeping and more. If you would like to read further please follow the link: Horizon Research

The Role of Tunqin Guanxi in Building Rural Resilience in North China: A Case from Qinggang

last modified Feb 09, 2017 01:27 PM

Yan Gao and Shailaja Fennell 

This is an article that has been published in China Quarterly, the leading publication in the field of Chinese Studies. To read the full article please click here.


This paper explores the role of guanxi, particularly in its special form of tunqin, in building rural resilience in a poverty-stricken county in north China. The emphasis of this paper is placed on the nature and function of such guanxi. By presenting how guanxi is maintained, this paper also analyses the impact and effectiveness of local guanxi as a strategy to cope with poverty. Whereas tunqin guanxi appears to have built rural resilience in order to cushion villagers against life's upheavals, the maintenance of rural guanxi diminishes this resilience as scarce resources are spent on the exchange of cash gifts, thus aggravating local poverty.

Cambridge Capability Conference 2016

last modified Jun 16, 2016 03:55 PM

The Centre of Development Studies held the Capability Conference on 13-14 June. More than 75  Delegates from around the world came to present papers and proceedings will be soon published.  

CDS MPhil students launch the Cambridge Journal of Development Issues

last modified Jun 13, 2016 12:24 PM

MPhil students from the Centre have recently launched a new journal of development studies, the Cambridge Journal of Development Issues. The journal is supported by the Centre and gives students and associates of the Centre a exciting opportunity to see their work in print. The first issue can be found here.

CDS launches an annual collaborative research workshop in Kigali, Rwanda

last modified Jun 13, 2016 12:13 PM

In July 2016 CDS researchers will launch an annual collaborative research workshop in Kigali, Rwanda, with colleagues from the University of Rwanda. Covering topics from Gender to Law in Development, the workshop will also be open to up to 50 students from the University of Rwanda. This initiative is funded by the Gatsby Foundation, and has developed from Jane Lichtenstein’s long-standing links with Rwanda and the work there supported by the Gatsby Foundation. Dr Shailaja Fennell, Jolly Dusabe (Cambridge Rwanda scholar), Christine van Hooft, Dr Sophie Chapman and Jane Lichtenstein will make up the team from CDS.

PhD student Serik Orazgaliyev receives ABTA Doctoral Researcher Award

last modified May 20, 2016 12:48 PM



Our Ph.D. student Serik Orazgaliyev has received an award in recognition of academic excellence at ABTA 2016 Doctoral Researcher Awards in the category of Management & Social Sciences.

ABTA Doctoral Researcher Awards is an annual event organised by the Association of British Turkish Academics (ABTA). It is designed to promote and reward academic and scientific excellence among young researchers pursuing doctoral degrees in the UK. The award recognises doctoral students for conducting outstanding research and evaluates both the student’s general research experience and specific completed research papers. The research independence of the applicant, as well as the novelty and implications of research conducted, were used for assessment purposes.

At the award ceremony, which took place on 14 May 2016 at University College London (UCL), Serik received an honourable mention award for his paper that introduces a model of bargaining relationships between petroleum industry multinationals and host governments in developing countries.

This year ABTA received applications from over 200 doctoral students from 56 universities across the United Kingdom. In the final stage, shortlisted candidates presented their research through oral presentations and at the poster exhibition, assessed by the panel of judges composed of academics from UK universities.

Serik Orazgaliyev is a final year PhD student at the Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge. He is the recipient of a Bolashak scholarship from the government of Kazakhstan. Serik’s PhD research focuses on studying the political economy of petroleum resource management in the Caspian region and relations between the host government and multinational enterprises in Kazakhstan. Serik is supervised by Dr.Siddharth Saxena and Dr.Shailaja Fennell.    

Article by Dr Terry van Gewelt, Dr Tayyab Safdar et al in Energy for Sustainable Development

last modified Jun 13, 2016 12:08 PM

Dr Terry van Gevelt, Dr Tayyab Safdar and colleagues have published a study on 'energy poverty' in rural Rwanda in the journal Energy for Sustainable Development.

Dr van Gewelt et al. used primary data collected from 163 households in an off-grid Rwandan village to provide insights into energy poverty at the household-level. Informed by the rural livelihoods literature, they constructed a novel asset- and income-based index to disaggregate their results by socio-economic status. They also employed microeconometric techniques to investigate the determinants of household willingness-to-pay for electricity. Dr van Gewelt et al. found statistically significant differences between households of different socio-economic status for expenditure on lighting and other electricity services, willingness-to-pay for electricity, income-generating activities and food security. Overall, their findings suggest that initiatives aiming to end energy poverty and catalyze rural development should: (1) recognize the different potential impacts of policies on households of different socio-economic status; (2) be sensitive to energy stacking behavior; (3) take a holistic approach to rural development; (4) and ensure that households are able to access modern energy through flexible payment schemes and equitable and sustained improvements in income.


van Gevelt, T. et al. (2016). "Insights from an energy poor Rwandan village." Energy for Sustainable Development 32: 121-129.

PhD student Nungari Mwangi winner of the 2016 Andrew E Rice Award

last modified May 12, 2016 02:18 PM

PhD  Nungari Mwangi is the winner of this year’s Andrew E. Rice Award for leadership and innovation by a young Professional in international development. She will receive the award at SID-Washington’s Annual Conference on May 23rd.

The Rice Award (formerly the Truman Award) was established in 2003 by Andrew E. Rice and Robert Berg to honor leadership, innovation, impact, and commitment demonstrated by a young professional in international development. Mr. Rice was a founder and visionary of the Society for International Development, building it into a major global network. He also established the first newsletter and journal on international development, and helped initiate a number of development initiatives, including the U.S. Peace Corps.

More information can be found by clicking here

Article by Dr Maryam Tanwir in Africa's Public Service Delivery and Performance Review

last modified May 06, 2016 01:37 PM

Dr Maryam Tanwir has a new publication in Africa's Public Service Delivery and Performance Review: Tanwir, M and Chaudhry, A (2015). The performance evaluation system in Pakistan's civil service. Africa's public service delivery and performance review journal. Volume 3 (2) June 2015.

Dr Fennell awarded student-led CUSU teaching award

last modified Apr 27, 2016 12:06 PM

Congratulations to Dr Fennell who has been awarded a student-led CUSU teaching award, in the supervisor category. She will receive the award on 5th May.

Now in their third year, the CUSU Student-Led Teaching Awards are a unique opportunity for students to recognise the exceptional contribution those who teach and support them have made to their education. The Awards are organised by CUSU, and any student at Cambridge is able to nominate. The judging of the Awards is carried out by a panel of students. 




Dr Fennell appointed High Level Track Facilitator at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum.

last modified May 06, 2016 01:30 PM

We are pleased to announce that Dr Fennell has been appointed as High Level Track Facilitator at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum.

The main role of the HLTFs is to moderate high level policy sessions and provide written executive summaries based on interventions and discussion during the session, while capturing the vision, identifying emerging trends, opportunities and challenges shared by the high level speakers.



Centre of Development Studies ranked 6th in the world in the latest QS World University Ranking

last modified Apr 26, 2016 12:02 PM

You will be pleased to know that we have moved up from 8 in 2015 to 6 this year in the QS world ranking for Development Studies.

This is a remarkable result and a great tribute to the tremendous efforts of the whole team of teachers and administrators.

It's a fantastic result!

Professor Peter Nolan

Navroz at Jesus Chapel

last modified Mar 24, 2016 03:05 PM

The Cambridge Central Asia Forum, Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the Cambridge University Uzbekistan Society and the Cambridge University Kazakhstan Society has, for the 12th year in a row, organised the spring festival, Navroz. This festival, celebrated by the countries of Central Asia, Eurasia, the Middle East and beyond on the occasion of the coming of Spring and the New Year was held in the ancient Chapel of Jesus College in the University of Cambridge. The event was sponsored by Jesus College, the Embassies to the UK of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, and was also supported by the Embassy of Turkmenistan in London. This year the cultural program proudly included traditional dancing and musical performances from the countries of Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The event was attended by colleagues and students from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom government officials and members of the public from Cambridge, London and from across the United Kingdom. It was attended by close to 400 people. The cultural program was followed by food from the region provided generously by the Embassies of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.


New article by Dr Sophie Chapman in the Carbon and Climate Law Review

last modified Mar 15, 2016 03:44 PM

Dr Sophie Chapman has just published an article about Kenyan climate change law and sustainable development in the Carbon and Climate Law Review.

Together with colleagues at the Kenyatta University School of Law (KUSOL), law firm Anjarwalla and Khanna and the Queensland Institute of Technology (QUT), Dr Chapman discusses how legal frameworks influence benefit sharing for REDD+ finance in Kenya.

Citation details: Sophie Chapman, Rowena Maguire, Mona Doshi,
Caroline Wanjiku Kago, Nelly Kamunde-Aquino, Leah Kiguatha, Elizabeth
Dooley and Gretchen Engbring, "The Elements of Benefit-sharing for REDD+
in Kenya: A Legal Perspective" 2015(4) Carbon and Climate Law Review
pp.283-297 [Publisher: Lexxion]

Giulio Regeni 1988-2016

last modified Mar 31, 2016 09:07 AM

As Head of Department at POLIS I wish to express my profound shock and sadness at the death of our student Giulio Regeni.  Our very deepest sympathy goes out to Giulio’s family and his many friends.

On Friday, following consultation with the Mistress of Girton, Giulio’s college, I wrote to the Egyptian Consul General in London to convey our sense of shock and to ask to be kept informed of the progress of the investigation into the circumstances of Giulio’s death, as a matter of urgency.  The text of this letter is published at the end of the page.  Our request has been acknowledged and we will pursue this and any other means to try to discover the truth behind this appalling event.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University, the Mistress of Girton and the Head of the Centre of Development Studies have all been in contact with Giulio’s family to offer our deepest condolences.  Events have been held in the Department and in Girton to remember Giulio and to mourn for his loss.  We will be discussing with Giulio’s college and his friends how we can best commemorate his life and work in due course.  


David Runciman

Head of Department


Giulio Regeni, who was found dead in Cairo, Egypt on 3rd February, was a highly promising young scholar of social and economic development in the Middle East. Giulio came to the University of Cambridge in 2011, after previously obtaining a first class degree for his BA in Arabic and Politics at the University of Leeds. In Cambridge, he studied for a master’s degree in Development Studies. His academic results were excellent, and he was awarded a high pass in completing the degree. His time on this MPhil also fostered his academic interests in the Middle East, and took him on to applying for professional postings in the region. He ended up in Cairo, working for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, where he furthered his keen interests in the labour sector, economic change and governance in a country that was undergoing significant political changes.

Wanting to develop these interests more systematically, and after a year working for the international consulting firm Oxford Analytica, Giulio came back to Cambridge in 2014. He returned to the Centre of Development Studies at the Department of Politics and International Studies to study for a PhD, with the aim of pursuing an academic career. Inspired by work on how trade unions organised in pre-2011 Egypt, Giulio sought to understand how the labour sector was changing in the country, in the context of economic globalisation and greater international institutional linkages. After completing the first year of the PhD in Cambridge, he arranged to spend part of the year 2015-16 as a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo.

Giulio was passionate about his research. He was always receptive to new ideas and approaches, but his work remained driven by a sense of justice. Giulio was enthusiastic also about communicating his knowledge to a wider audience. He signed up to teach a course on the comparative politics of the Middle East to undergraduate students, intending initially to return to Cambridge from Egypt in early January 2016 to begin teaching. But with research and conversations in Cairo progressing well, he postponed his intended return until March. He was last seen alive on 25th January, travelling by metro in central Cairo, on his way to visit friends. He was 28 years old at the time.

Glen Rangwala

Memories of Giulio

Giulio was my PhD buddy. A fellow lover of Egypt, social justice, and human dignity. On Friday the 5th of February, a few days after Giulio's body had been found, I went to a ceremony for him at Girton College. Every chair in the room was occupied. We were all invited to light a candle and share a few memories. It soon became clear that none of us could. One candle after the other was lit in complete silence. Never before have I been at a ceremony where people were all too struck by someone's death to say a single word. So consider this one of my memories. You were so loved that nobody was able to sing your praises. Nothing that could have been put in words would have done you justice. And nothing that we could have said would have been able to express the absolute terror we feel of having lost you in the way we did. How such kindness could have met such cruelty is simply beyond words. Sometimes, silence rings the loudest.


Giulio was one of the first PhD students in development studies to introduce himself to me during my MPhil, to take a genuine interest in my work, and to make me feel like I was a part of the department. Despite him not knowing me very well, he went out of his way to make it a welcoming environment, and I am grateful for that. He will be missed, in the department and beyond.


Giulio thank you for your courage, your curiosity and the powerful gift you have left us in our memories and your work. You just have left such an incredible, inspirational path behind you. It's so difficult to find the right words but I wanted to say thank you, somehow, for your engagement with my research too. Thanks for staying to chat, for sharing ideas (and our common heroes!) Your writing brings deep respect to the daily, exhausting and vital work of people whose efforts are barely recognised elsewhere. To the personal relations, the everyday indignation and stubborn perseverance in the efforts to build a better world. You documented hope, even where it is so hard to see, especially now. Not hope in the abstract sense, but a hope that takes strength and commitment. There just are so many more things to talk about, so many paths left to explore. But instead all I can say is that all of us who knew you - and all those others who will know you in your work and in your memory - will try our best to keep struggling for that kind of just, compassionate world that you fought for. Giulio, rest in deep peace, but we will keep fighting with you.


Nessuno potrà spegnere i sogni , la curiosità per la vita , l'amore per le pagine della storia , l'impegno civile e sociale, il desiderio di dare un significato alla propria vita, costruendo un percorso dedicato a tutti. Una preghiera per Giulio.


Giulio was passionate and committed researcher, a person with a sense of humour, and a good friend. I met Giulio in the French course offered by CULP. After realizing that we were from the same department, we became friends. Since we were based in the ARB building, we often went for coffee or lunch, or took a short break from writing by having a casual or ‘academic’ conversation in the green sofa area and exchanging ideas. He enjoyed analysing development issues, conflicts (or post-conflict situations), Europe, and many other societal problems. We also talked and argued about casual and study-related issues. As a person looking for solutions to problems, Giulio was one of those people who sought to contribute to making the world a better place.


Giulio was in my eyes unrivalled in his intellectual curiosity amongst our peers. It is with huge admiration that I remember him determinately and resolutely asking for feedback from all of us amongst the PhD students whenever he gave a presentation or simply voiced an idea in conversation. The reason he would do this more than the rest of us was because he wanted to be meticulous in his work and understanding, to ensure that he was not making errors, and quite simply because he was so evidently instilled with an insatiable yearning to understand the world around him. He has set a fine example for the rest of us, and I will forever try to be as brave and determined as he was. 

Touching on the above theme, I will never forget Giulio's idealism and genuine desire to see the world become a better place. He inspired me in this regard - talking about the Green Party, the election of Jeremy Corbyn, the like. You could see in his eyes the excitement at the thought of a society becoming fairer, and again a kind of steely belief that things really good be better. 

These qualities are endlessly admirable, yet they are not the things I will miss most about Giulio. At the end of the day it is always the personal that counts. Giulio was exceptionally positive and friendly, keen to make all people feel happy and comfortable. Anecdotally, the caring patience that he showed when speaking to various visiting fellows whose English was not strong was sincerely amazing, and it was emblematic of the kind of person that he was. The kind of person who would take the time to be friendly to everyone. 

It is a wrenchingly heartbreaking injustice that Giulio has been killed. He was an exceptional person, and I, like all of our mutual friends, will miss him immensely. He is an inspiration to all those who want to do good.


You know how researchers specialising in a particular field/ area sometimes feign interest in studies that lie outside of our zone of interest? Giulio never did that. He was one of those rare scholars - genuinely curious with insatiable thirst for knowledge. He was sincerely interested in the research of everyone in his department (including mine which was based on education in India – far from his research interest!). Sitting in our department and discussing my thesis, with him asking me questions out of genuine interest, helped me in my research because his questions and ideas always made me think and improve. 

His intellectual capability and profound passion for knowledge and research was unmatched. No wonder he became such an international citizen with affiliations to some of the best global educational institutions like United World College, University of Cambridge, and American University in Cairo. He was fluent in four languages – English, Spanish, Arabic and Italian: a quality I was always envious of. His passion for Middle Eastern studies and his love for Egypt were as infectious as his bright smile. 

The goodness in him was not limited to his superior scholarly capability. He was also an extremely kind and compassionate person. We were both assistants to late Professor Ajit Singh (who had suffered from Parkinson’s disease), and I clearly remember how actively Giulio would be by Prof Singh’s side whenever needed. My last conversation with Giulio was regarding Prof Singh’s birthday gift, and Giulio had great plans for a celebration. Unfortunately, Prof Singh passed away before we could bring Giulio’s vision for his birthday to life. 

Giulio was a good person, colleague, researcher and friend. It was a privilege knowing him. I thank him today for showing sincere interest in my research and helping me with my work, for always being kind to all of us, for showing us the true definition of courage, and for teaching us the valuable lessons of tolerance and fearless pursuit of knowledge and truth. He will be missed dearly.


Letter to Egyptian Consul General

5th February 2016

Dear Mr. Youssef,

It is with huge sadness that I have learnt of the loss of one of our PhD students, Giulio Regeni.

Giulio was on a field study trip in Cairo, contributing towards his doctoral work on the Egyptian economy. He was found dead in the capital on 3 February 2016.

We take the welfare of our students very seriously.  It is hard for Giulio’s family and for us to comprehend how such a talented student could meet his death in the Egyptian capital as he carried out his important academic research.  We note that the Italian authorities have urged you to conduct a thorough investigation with the participation of Italian experts and we, too, call on you to conduct a thorough and complete investigation into this tragic incident.  

I would like to be kept informed of the progress of the investigation.

Yours sincerely,

Professor David Runciman

"It has been almost two years since the murder of Giulio Regeni in Cairo. As we approach this anniversary, we are no nearer to knowing the truth of what happened to this promising post-graduate, tortured and killed while pursuing wholly legitimate academic research... It has been especially troubling to note that, in the absence of apparent progress in investigations into Giulio’s death, attention has been turned to his doctoral supervisor, Dr Maha Abdelrahman – an honourable and distinguished scholar..." Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor. To read the message in full, please go to our News page. The message can also be found on the University of Cambridge homepage.

We are delighted and proud to see that the Centre has gone from no.8 (2015) to no.6 (2016) to no.4 (2017) in the field of Development Studies in the QS Survey. This would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work from everyone within the Centre.