Professor Hazel Johnson

Professor of Development Policy and Practice


Hazel Johnson has a background in Sociology, Social Administration and Development Studies. She is one of the founders of the MSc in Development Management, and has worked on most of the modules. She currently chairs a module on Institutional Development (TU872). She has research interests in institutional change, social learning for development and action on livelihoods, and currently focuses on the different roles co-operatives can play in development. Her research interests have taken her to Honduras, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya and Malawi. For many years, she was joint managing editor of the Journal of International Development and a Council Member of the Development Studies Association (DSA). She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and is currently a Trustee of the UK Co-operative College.

Hazel Johnson’s recent research interests focus the role of co-operatives in development, particularly in promoting learning, livelihoods and resilience. In the past she has researched knowledge and social learning for institutional change, including projects on: • active learning and social inclusion in environment and development in Zimbabwe (with Gordon Wilson); • the impacts of educational programmes in development policy and management on course participants and their organizations in Southern Africa and the UK (with Alan Thomas); and • learning and knowledge transfer in North-South municipal partnerships (with Gordon Wilson). She was also part of a consortium of researchers in Europe and Africa analysing the potential of electronic distance training for promoting learning and action on sustainability in African local government. Hazel Johnson has supervised doctoral students in the institutionalization of educational change; ethnicity and development; gender in development; knowledge processes engaged in by development consultants and advisers; collective action and innovation (Bolivia); ICTs and gender equality in development (Uganda); women teachers’ lives in rural sub-Saharan Africa; young people's engagement with co-operatives (Uganda and Lesotho); climate change and forest-based communities (Kenya and Uganda); peace education in Uganda; United Nations Integrated Missions (DRC and Kosovo).

Hazel Johnson has been a leader and member of teams creating undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum in Development Studies and Development Management. Undergraduate curriculum includes poverty, inequality and livelihoods, and the role of ICTs in development. Postgraduate curriculum includes capacities for managing development, institutional development and education for development. She was one of the first directors of the OU’s MSc in Development Management and established its global programme. She has held a British Council Education Partnerships in Africa grant to support innovation education and training in collaboration with the African Centre for Technology Studies in Kenya.

Understanding rural co-operative resilience

The research project explores whether and in what ways co-operatives are resilient social and economic organisations. By investigating the distinctive nature of the co-operative model, the project aims to provide insights on limiting and enabling factors that might be required for the development of resilience at the level of co-operatives.

The project focuses on Malawi where co-operati...

Engaging with International Development

In her inaugural lecture, Professor Hazel Johnson looks behind changes in the world economy, rising powers and new technologies to reveal the struggles of individuals, groups and organisations to improve their livelihoods. In the process she enables us to see their agency, and the opportunities and contradictions in interventions aimed at changing their conditions.

To watch: