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New PLAAS Research Chair embarks on exciting programme

8 December 2009
PLAAS post-grad student doing fieldwork in Limpopo

Source: PLAAS

In August 2009 Ben Cousins was awarded an NRF research Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies. This generous grant enables Cousins to lead an ambitious and highly relevant research programme in the next 5 to 15 years that will produce fresh knowledge, analysis and discussion that will hopefully contribute to the shaping of new paradigms.

The Research Chair will mount a five year research programme on agrarian change, land reform and poverty reduction, and explore the policy implications of its research findings. The design of the programme is framed by two over-arching questions:

(i) what processes of socio-economic change are under way in the South African countryside that are likely to influence the outcomes and impacts of land and agrarian reform?

(ii) what are the impacts of land and agrarian reform policies and programmes on agricultural productivity, agrarian structure and rural poverty?

A key underlying premise of the proposed research programme is that interventions such as land reform occur within poorly understood social, economic and political contexts, the realities of which deeply influence the outcomes. Yet interventions are often based on simplistic understandings of social reality, on static models of social organization, and on problematic assumptions. When the assumptions and understandings that inform policy and implementation are at odds with reality, outcomes are unlikely to be the same as the desired objectives. Conversely, if appropriate understandings of complex realities can directly inform policy making and implementation, these are more likely to be effective.

The acceptance of his Research Chair has meant that Cousins decided to step down as Director as PLAAS. However, he will continue to be based at PLAAS, and students who work within the context of the research programme will be registered at PLAAS and the University of the Western Cape. The programme is anticipated to begin in January 2010.

For the full text of the invitation for applications to complete a Masters, Doctoral and Post-Doctoral degree within the context of this programme click here. The closing date for applications is 15 December 2009.

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