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Andrew Jones - The need for interdisciplinary approaches toward research into farming

The need for interdisciplinary approaches toward research into farming

A Centre for Rural Policy Research seminar
Date31 May 2023
Time10:30 to 12:30
PlaceByrne House


This talk is about my experience of working on an interdisciplinary project investigating the impact of fungicide stewardship in arable farming. I originally trained as a philosopher before moving to theology as postdoctoral research fellow investigating the relationship between God and science and I’m now working for professional services building relationships between academics and non-academic organisations.

To date my projects include combining history and philosophy to understand Kant’s influence on biology in the British Isles (my PhD topic) and working with physicists to teach courses on the ethics of nuclear innovation. In this talk I will identify the systemic challenges that are central for understanding the relationship between fungicides and farming, and the broader implications this has for environmental sustainability. Addressing these challenges requires a robust understanding of the issues that intersect in academia and farming, and the barriers potentially preventing them from maximising their synergistic relationship. These include the relationship between farmers and agronomists, limitations in knowledge of environmental risk, and certain governmental and organisational policies which potentially dis-incentivise farmers from adopting more sustainable practices. We also need to consider how academic expectations serve to both benefit and hinder our ability to mobilise interdisciplinary solutions to these problems. My approach implicitly resembles many aspects of STS but also combines perspectives and skills from continental philosophy, history of science and, more recently, project management.

I draw from our research into fungicide stewardship in arable farming as a case study for exploring the more general drivers and barriers of interdisciplinary research and research with non-academic partners. We try to disseminate our research to nonacademic partners by adopting a co-productive method and holding stakeholder workshops, we have developed a website and school materials to promote engagement beyond our university partners. As a ‘philosopher in the wild’ who has been thrown into working with farmers and scientists I welcome this opportunity to share my understanding of these challenges with the collective expertise and experience of the CRPR seminar group.


Byrne House