The developmental challenges facing the world are daunting. Extreme poverty and social exclusion persist. Socio-economic inequality and fundamentalism are on the increase, exacerbated by the adverse effects of climate change and the global crises of food, fuel and finance. In this rapidly changing global socio-political landscape, the development sector is struggling to address such dilemmas. This Knowledge Programme Briefing Note argues that there is an acute and pressing need for new perspectives and knowledge on the changing terrain and dynamics of development and social change.