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Social Sciences

Putting people at the centre of agricultural research-for-development
A family in Vietnam packing cassava into a bag

The Social Sciences Program commissions research to address questions most effectively answered or led primarily by qualitative social scientists with elements of quantitative social science where relevant to the issue under investigation. All projects endeavour to conduct transdisciplinary research to deliver innovation and accelerate poverty reduction. 

The Program’s key research areas are: agricultural extension, gendered social relations, women’s empowerment, smallholder livelihoods, and climate adaptation.
 
Social science theories and methods can make significant contributions to systems research, particularly when considering systems as a descriptor of holistic approaches that encompass complex interactions. However, the contribution of social science extends beyond systems thinking. 

In both research for and in agriculture for development, and development more broadly, empirical research and development practice has clearly evidenced that engaging with people as active agents, rather than passive recipients of research and aid, results in far greater impact. 

An example of this is the success of farmer field schools, where farming is done by people for people, as opposed to a top-down flow of information from scientist to farmers. The Social Sciences Program portfolio foregrounds a people-centred approach to agricultural research-for-development to reduce poverty.

Research Program Manager: Dr Jayne Curnow