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Pioneer of international development at the OU dies

24 April 2019

Photo of Ben Crow

We are sad to report the death of Professor Ben Crow, a founder member of Development Policy and Practice (DPP) at The Open University (OU) where he worked for twelve years from 1980. He famously (with DPP colleague Alan Thomas) produced the Open University Third World Atlas, which became a BBC Desert Island Book for Glenys Kinnock, and a best seller. 

Ben remained fascinated by multimedia education (which he used to produce materials on The Green Revolution in India for the first development module at the OU) and went on to produce The Atlas of Global Inequalities (University of California Press, 2011), an exciting re-interpretation of the original Atlas, focusing on poverty and inequality. With the OU’s Mary Thorpe, he produced a major textbook Survival and Change in the Third World, together with other accessible texts including (with others) The Food Question: profits versus people (Earthscan, 1990).

He chaired the course team for the OU undergraduate course Third World Development (U208) in the late 1980s, and obtained DPP’s first large research grant to study trading networks in South Asia. Most recently, he collaborated with Dr Peter Robbins in DPP on a programme on engineering and development. 

Originally studying and working as an engineer, Ben became Professor and Head of Sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he was working until his diagnosis with a brain tumour last year. There will be a memorial for Ben in London, in June. 

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