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Dr Shailaja Fennell

Dr Shailaja Fennell

University Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, attached to the Department of Land Economy.

Fellow of Jesus College

BA, MA, MPhil (University of Delhi), MPhil, PhD (University of Cambridge)

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 764048


Dr. Shailaja Fennell is a co-I on TIGR2ESS, a research programme to study how to improve crop productivity and water use, identify appropriate crops and farming practices for sustainable rural development, with funding of £ 7.8 million form the Global Challenges Fund of RCUK.

Dr Fennell was an international team leader on public-private partnerships in education project within the DfID-funded Cambridge-based consortium on educational outcomes for the poor (RECOUP) from 2005-2010

She was awarded the UGC-UKIERI grant for a collaborative research initiative, in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University, and the Indian partners were the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and University of Punjab, Chandigarh for 2014-16. The project focussed on understanding how bottlenecks that limit Internet access for rural agricultural production and community-based tourism can be removed, using the Portolan application and android mobile phones, to collect upstream data and an innovative survey instrument to collect downstream data.

She has been a consultant on inequality and rural development with Oxfam GB (2014-15), on evidence based policy with the World Bank (2013-15), and was earlier the social science expert on agriculture and gender and a member of the five person team that authored the European Report on Development on Fragility in Africa, 2008-09. 

Research Interests

My research interests include institutional reform and collective action, food production and rural development; gender norms and gender gaps in development interventions,  and provision of public goods and the role of partnerships. 


If you want to know more about my research on how mobile phones have helped me to understand the lives of young people in rural India, and what this has to do with global food security, the link is below

Listen to my research on rural-urban transformations and the challenges for sustainable cities do click on the link below

 If you are interested in learning more about my work on renewable energy and sustainable development you can listen to an interview conducted by Energy@Cam by clicking on the link below


Dr Fennell is the coordinator for the core paper ‘Institutions and Development’(Paper 2). 

She also carries out undergraduate teaching on development policy for the Department of Land Economy and contributes to teaching on the M.Phil in South Asian Studies.

Dr Fennell supervises MPhil students in the Centre of Development Studies. She also supervises PhD students at the Centre of Development Studies and the Department of Land Economy.

She won the Student Support (academic) award and received a commendation in the graduate supervisor category in the CUSU student led awards in 2018.

Dr. Fennell was also the winner of the CUSU student led award in the supervisor category in 2016


  • Urban Marginality and Segregation
  • Evidence and Learning

Key Publications

Her recent publications include:

Ashford, A., D. Kelly and S. Fennell (eds.) Malthusian Moments, The Historical Journal, 2019.

The Handbook of BRICS  (edited with P. Anand, F. Comim and J Weiss) forthcoming (2019), Oxford University Press. 

New Frontiers of the Capability Approach (edited with F. Comim and P. Anand) (2018), Cambridge University Press. 

Rules, rubrics and riches: the interrelations between legal reform and international development, Routledge (2010);

Gender Education and Equality in a Global Context: conceptual frameworks and policy perspectives, Routledge (ed. with M. Arnot, 2008).

She has published in leading publications such China Quarterly, Ecological Economics, Telecommunications Policy, Comparative Education and Journal of Human Development and Capabilities 


Contributions to Critical Economics Thinking

Dr. Fennell has been invited to speak at the Critical Economics Summit at Bologna, May 5-7th 2017. The conference is organised by the European Chapters of the Rethinking Economics initiative (

 Dr Fennell has just published a piece for the ITU in its thought leader contribution category

Dr. Fennell gave a talk on Colonialism, Institutions and Development at the University of Tubingen, at a Critical Economics Forum. You can listen to the talk if you click on to the following link





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