Blog

Friday, 07 April 2017 00:00

Research, fieldwork and changing the world

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By Rebecca Cotton Who Me? When I left school, I was determined to follow in my father’s footsteps and started studying medicine. However, this wasn’t the life for me and, after a break from university, I enrolled in a Science degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). One of my best ever decisions! Post-graduation I enrolled in an honours year, which brings me to where I am now. My Research Making information practically applicable is the role of 'extension'. However, transferring knowledge in an effective and efficient manner is highly dependent on cultural context. This is where my…
By Wes Ward. Wes is currently a Media Officer with Charles Sturt University, with experience working with multicultural teams in developing countries in SE Asia and the Pacific. During these times, he worked for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the University of the South Pacific and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme. He graduated with his PhD from CSU in December 2016, and since then has been communicating the findings of his research. Imagine this. You are visiting another country for the first time, and you visit an Italian restaurant. Lasagne is on the menu, you remember your…
Friday, 24 March 2017 00:00

One step at a time - lessons from a PhD student

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By Alex van der Meer It takes 15 seconds to read this first paragraph. Fifteen seconds to get an idea of what I am doing. If the idea interests you, you may stay longer. I’m doing a PhD at the Fenner School at ANU in collaboration with the ACIAR project, “Improving policies for forest plantations to balance smallholder, industry and environmental needs in Lao PDR and Vietnam”. I’m evaluating how the establishment of tree plantations affects the livelihoods of rural households in Laos. You still there? Anyway, in December last year, fueled with enthusiasm from receiving my ethics approval and…
Friday, 17 March 2017 00:00

I don't love rice but I love rice research

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My mate Amila was puzzled. I had just asked him if he ever gets sick of eating rice. I was certainly sick of it. I was halfway through a semester abroad in Sri Lanka and would have sold my soccer boots for a juicy steak. We sat in silence for a few minutes, riding the bus home to the student hostel. Eventually, Amila responded. "If I give up rice, what else do I eat?" Before undertaking my semester of study in Sri Lanka, I was fortunate enough to complete a three-week internship at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquarters…
Why is gender important? In smallholder research projects it is common to use “household typologies” to look at the impact of different interventions. The problem with this is that the household is treated as a single unit where the adults have equal control over resources (i.e. land, credit) and decision-making power and it is assumed that the impact of any change (positive or negative) is evenly distributed within the household. As a general rule, this isn’t the case! Therefore, instead of looking “at” households, researchers need to look “inside” them and engage with both men and women if they want…