Professor Shailaja Fennell

Fellow, Director of Studies in Land Economy
University Positions
Professor of Regional Transformation and Economic Security
Director of Research at Cambridge Central Asia Forum
Specialising in
Development Studies

Shailaja Fennell is Director of Research at Cambridge Central Asia Forum, Professor of Regional Transformation and Economic Security, and a Fellow of Jesus College.

Academic interests

Shailaja Fennell's academic interests include:

  • Agrarian transformation
  • Economic reform
  • The dynamics of household decision making
  • Educational provision
  • Comparative economic development
  • Economic history
  • Land policy and development economics.

Degrees obtained

  • BA Economics, Delhi University, 1985.
  • MA Economics, Delhi University, 1987.
  • MPhil Economics, Delhi University, 1990.
  • MPhil Economics, University of Cambridge, 1991.
  • PhD Economics, University of Cambridge, 2003.


Shailaja Fennell was awarded her degrees of BA, MA, and MPhil in Economics from the University of Delhi, and then went on to read for her MPhil and PhD at the Faculty of Economics and Politics, University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research was on long term agricultural trends in India and China.

Shailaja is currently a co-investigator on the successful GCRF bid Transforming India's Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies (TIGR2ESS) 2017-2021, led by the University of Cambridge. She is the lead on the work package on Impacting the Well-Being of Urban and Rural Communities through interventions in education, empowerment and entrepreneurship to ensure health and nutrition.

Shailaja is also a co-investigator on a sister project, MillNet_i, funded by a UKRI GCRF award, 'Food & nutrition research for health in the developing world: bioavailability & nutrient content', on how to improve iron nutrition status of people living in Ethiopia and The Gambia by assessing the bioavailability of iron from biofortified millet (2019-2021). She was previously a member of the team commissioned by the European Union to bring about the first European Report on Development, titled 'Overcoming Fragility in Africa: Forging a New Approach Forward' (2008-09).

Shailaja has been researching the linkages between rural development, environmental, and educational strategies across the regions of sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia and Central Asia since 2004. She has specialised in the fields of institutional reform, regional transformation, gender and household dynamics, kinship and ethnicity, and the provision of public goods.

Shailaja was appointed visiting professor at the Kazakh National University in Almaty in 2008 and awarded an honorary professorship by the A. Yasawi Kazakh-Turkic University in November 2009.

Other interests

Food, Asian culture, yoga, Indian dance.

Publications, links and resources

Shailaja's recent publications include Comim, F., S. Fennell, and P. B. Anand (eds.) New Frontiers of the Capability Approach, Cambridge University Press, 2018. 

A forthcoming publication is Anand, P. B., S. Fennell, and F. Comim, (eds.) Handbook of BRICS and Emerging Economies, Oxford University Press. 

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