Programme Director for the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (2006 to 2010)

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Agriculture Food and Rural Development

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Alister Scott (Author) (2012) Playing around in the Rural Urban Fringe in Government Gazette

publication icon
Gareth Edwards-Jones (author) (2009) The herbivore's dilemma in Food ethics : the magazine of the Food Ethics Council

publication icon
Louise Corti (author) (2009) Helping researchers to share data

publication icon
Lowe P (2009) Ecology and the social sciences in Journal of Applied Ecology

publication icon
Lowe P (2013) Why social scientists should engage with natural scientists in Contemporary Social Science

publication icon
Lowe P (2008) Socio-technical innovation for sustainable food chains: roles for social science in Trends in Food Science & Technology

publication icon
Wilkinson K (2011) Infectious diseases of animals and plants: an interdisciplinary approach. in Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences

 
Description Introduction
1. The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (Relu) aimed to advance a holistic understanding of the major social, economic, environmental and technological challenges facing rural areas. It was a collaboration between ESRC, BBSRC, NERC, Scottish Government and Defra with a budget of £27 million, and a further £4 million of co-funding. Relu involved circa 500 researcher and related posts in 78 projects and 16 PhD studentships. This included 4 waves of funding on the themes of: Sustainable Food Chains; Integration of Land and Water Use; The Management of Animal and Plant Diseases; and Adaptation of Rural Living and Land Use to Environmental Change.
2. Relu was built on two core premises. The first was that the salient challenges cut across disciplinary boundaries and that interdisciplinary research is required as a basis for sustainable rural development. The second was that to enhance the impact of research on policy and practice, the programme should engage potential stakeholders throughout all stages, including the identification of research questions, the conduct of the research and the dissemination of results. Relu was therefore a strategically important initiative from the point of view of public policy development, Research Council cooperation, and strengthening links between the Research Councils and governments. The programme departed radically from the 'end-of-pipe' role conventionally accorded to social scientists in technical programmes, of helping to overcome social constraints to advances in science and technology. It therefore brought critical social perspectives to bear on technical research agendas and promoted understanding of technological opportunities and environmental constraints in their appropriate social and economic contexts. The programme also provided a test case for the effective ways through which a strategic programme can enable governments to navigate and access expertise within the research base, and build its own internal capacity as a proficient commissioner and customer of interdisciplinary research.
3. Interdisciplinary research depends upon a supportive institutional context. This was recognised in the establishment of Relu. The three participating Research Councils agreed to pursue a strategic collaboration, pooling the funding and the management of the programme under a joint Programme Management Group (PMG) and Strategic Advisory Committee (SAC). This unified management structure facilitated the introduction of joint and streamlined arrangements to support interdisciplinary research. To operationalise this arrangement, further innovations at programme management level followed, such as the establishment of a Director's Office and development of bespoke cross-Council approaches and procedures for grant applications and assessment and the establishment of the first cross-Council data support service.

Achievements of the programme
4. Each of Relu's research projects involved a creative combination of social and natural sciences. Relu therefore succeeded in setting up a large-scale experiment in radical interdisciplinarity across the social and natural sciences, across the programme's overarching themes. All projects funded had to be interdisciplinary, but Relu did not predetermine particular disciplinary collaborations. It therefore tested out various forms, methods and processes of interdisciplinary working. This opened up the field to any conceivable coupling of social and natural sciences.
5. Relu brought together research communities with little if any experience of collaboration. A key task was to catalyse novel linkages and foster new research communities. This required an entrepreneurial approach to spotting and creating opportunities for collaboration and various bespoke mechanisms, including seed-corn funding, workshops and conferences carefully orchestrated to promote shared perspectives, and interdisciplinary training. The contribution of Relu has been to broaden and strengthen collaboration between the environmental and social sciences, and to forge new strategic links between the social and biological disciplines to address such issues as carbon labelling, biopesticides, food chain risk, and management of animal and plant diseases. The programme has therefore enhanced capacity for interdisciplinary research at a range of levels. This included the cohort of individual researchers who took part in the programme and who represented over 40 disciplines. Many have gone on to lead other interdisciplinary research projects and major programmes.
6. Relu also showed that the needs and priorities of interdisciplinary research have to be considered at various levels from that of the individual researcher to the institutions sponsoring and overseeing the research. The programme had to test out, and pioneer, new methods at each and every level. Relu has therefore been instrumental in furnishing research funders in the UK with an understanding of the institutional processes and mechanisms needed to enable effective interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange. Research funders increasingly acknowledged during the course of the programme the gains to be made from interdisciplinary research involving collaboration between social and natural scientists, not only in finessing the potential applicability of research but also in focusing its strategic direction. Major science funders have embedded the Relu experience and learning into new funding programmes and science strategies. However, Relu did not break the mould and the challenge looking ahead is how to further translate its programme innovations into changes in research policies and procedures.
7. ESRC's independent evaluation of the programme's impact on policy and practice found that the impacts of Relu have been extensive and transformative in a wide range of areas, such as sustainable food and farming; reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; strategic land use; policy for the uplands; targeting of the Water Framework Directive; policy making for the management of animal and plant diseases; reform of the veterinary profession; and barriers to growth in the rural economy.
8. The impacts of the programme were built on a foundation of very active and responsive knowledge exchange, and a programme of strategic influencing of stakeholder communities through a succession of targeted events, briefings and synthesised outputs. This succeeded in breaking with tradition to adopt an inclusive and pluralistic view of stakeholders to include the public, private and third sectors, including micro, small and large businesses, local and national interests, as well as the wider public. The programme involved 4000 stakeholders directly in its research projects (38% public sector, 36% private sector, 15% societal, 12% third sector). In many ways Relu was responsible for establishing the rise to prominence and understanding of knowledge exchange within the UK science base. Many of Relu's knowledge exchange mechanisms have been taken up by other programmes or mainstreamed into Research Council systems.
9. Specific outputs of Relu included 20 high profile conferences and workshops, production of 6 prestigious cross-programme journal special issues, orchestration of 21 cross-programme policy submissions and consultation responses, sponsorship of 5 cross-programme edited books, supporting 24 cross-programme workshops and special sessions, 16 Briefing Papers linking evidence from different waves of projects, 41 Policy and Practice Notes drawing out implications of the research for targeted audiences, 159 datasets and 1308 project outputs (journal articles etc.) available through the Relu Knowledge Portal (http://relu.data-archive.ac.uk/) and over 700 items of media coverage.

Contribution of the Director's Office
10. The Director's office actively facilitated networking and added value across the programme by means of cross-programme events, training workshops, stakeholder forums, visiting fellowship and work shadowing schemes, programme-level publications and journal special issues, joint-project planning meetings, support for cross-project synergies, enabling of international links, establishment of a high profile and trusted brand, and through orchestrating major strategic initiatives bringing together multiple projects - this all involved a major programme of engagement and knowledge exchange with several thousand stakeholders. The Office undertook strategic influencing in important areas of public policy, including food security, land use and animal and plant disease and coordinated programme responses to major consultations.
11. The Director's Office provided intellectual leadership on interdisciplinary perspectives of the rural economy and land use and in methodological innovations concerning interdisciplinary research and processes of collaborative research. This included over 120 presentations and keynote addresses, 33 journal articles, and editing of themed issues of highly respected mono disciplinary journals, setting out an ambitious intellectual agenda for interdisciplinary socio-technical research. The Office provided considerable input to individual research projects, the design of research call specifications and assessment of research proposals (contributing to 13 assessment panels and reviews of over 400 applications).
12. Lesson learning was a major focus throughout the programme, which meant Relu had significant and widespread impact on the profile of interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange within science policies and strategies, and helped catalyse a cultural change in outlook among key research funders and technical agencies in the UK. The Director's Office carried out multiple briefings of staff from the Research Councils and other high level science funders, programme directors and policy makers and contributed dozens of presentations and keynote addresses. They conducted large scale national surveys of stakeholder engagement methods in research and of interdisciplinary research practices, and pioneered the development and use of the SIAM (Stakeholder Impact Analysis Matrix) method of stakeholder analysis. They also carried out their own investigation into the role of knowledge exchange mechanisms and intermediaries between research and practice. Overall key findings from this work have included:
a. Demonstrating the institutional obstacles and requirements for effective interdisciplinary research programmes and policies.
b. Identifying the range of analytical methods and approaches for collaboration between social and natural scientists.
c. Highlighting the benefits of interdisciplinary research spanning the social and natural sciences in enabling socio-technical innovation.
d. Providing systematic understanding of mechanisms for effective knowledge exchange and ways in which research findings impact on policy and practice.
13. The Director's Office, together with the PMG and SAC, adopted an opportunistic approach, responding to windows of opportunity through which to engage with policy and practice and build the scientific agenda of the programme. This flexible approach to planning and design of programme activities and mechanisms, much of which could not have been foreseen at the outset of the programme, was a key to Relu's success.
Exploitation Route The contribution of Relu has been to broaden and strengthen collaboration between the environmental and social sciences, and to forge new strategic links between the social and biological disciplines to address such issues as carbon labelling, biopesticides, food chain risk, and management of animal and plant diseases. The programme has therefore enhanced capacity for interdisciplinary research at a range of levels. This included the cohort of individual researchers who took part in the programme and who represented over 40 disciplines. Many have gone on to lead other interdisciplinary research projects and major programmes.

Relu also showed that the needs and priorities of interdisciplinary research have to be considered at various levels from that of the individual researcher to the institutions sponsoring and overseeing the research. The programme had to test out, and pioneer, new methods at each and every level. Relu has therefore been instrumental in furnishing research funders in the UK with an understanding of the institutional processes and mechanisms needed to enable effective interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange. Research funders increasingly acknowledged during the course of the programme the gains to be made from interdisciplinary research involving collaboration between social and natural scientists, not only in finessing the potential applicability of research but also in focusing its strategic direction. Major science funders have embedded the Relu experience and learning into new funding programmes and science strategies. However, Relu did not break the mould and the challenge looking ahead is how to further translate its programme innovations into changes in research policies and procedures.

ESRC's independent evaluation of the programme's impact on policy and practice found that the impacts of Relu have been extensive and transformative in a wide range of areas, such as sustainable food and farming; reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; strategic land use; policy for the uplands; targeting of the Water Framework Directive; policy making for the management of animal and plant diseases; reform of the veterinary profession; and barriers to growth in the rural economy.

The impacts of the programme were built on a foundation of very active and responsive knowledge exchange, and a programme of strategic influencing of stakeholder communities through a succession of targeted events, briefings and synthesised outputs. This succeeded in breaking with tradition to adopt an inclusive and pluralistic view of stakeholders to include the public, private and third sectors, including micro, small and large businesses, local and national interests, as well as the wider public. The programme involved 4000 stakeholders directly in its research projects (38% public sector, 36% private sector, 15% societal, 12% third sector). In many ways Relu was responsible for establishing the rise to prominence and understanding of knowledge exchange within the UK science base. Many of Relu's knowledge exchange mechanisms have been taken up by other programmes or mainstreamed into Research Council systems.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

URL http://www.relu.ac.uk
 
Description ESRC's independent evaluation of the programme's impact on policy and practice found that the impacts of Relu have been extensive and transformative in a wide range of areas, such as sustainable food and farming; reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; strategic land use; policy for the uplands; targeting of the Water Framework Directive; policy making for the management of animal and plant diseases; reform of the veterinary profession; and barriers to growth in the rural economy. The impacts of the programme were built on a foundation of very active and responsive knowledge exchange, and a programme of strategic influencing of stakeholder communities through a succession of targeted events, briefings and synthesised outputs. This succeeded in breaking with tradition to adopt an inclusive and pluralistic view of stakeholders to include the public, private and third sectors, including micro, small and large businesses, local and national interests, as well as the wider public. The programme involved 4000 stakeholders directly in its research projects (38% public sector, 36% private sector, 15% societal, 12% third sector). In many ways Relu was responsible for establishing the rise to prominence and understanding of knowledge exchange within the UK science base. Many of Relu's knowledge exchange mechanisms have been taken up by other programmes or mainstreamed into Research Council systems. Specific outputs of Relu included 20 high profile conferences and workshops, production of 6 prestigious cross-programme journal special issues, orchestration of 21 cross-programme policy submissions and consultation responses, sponsorship of 5 cross-programme edited books, supporting 24 cross-programme workshops and special sessions, 16 Briefing Papers linking evidence from different waves of projects, 41 Policy and Practice Notes drawing out implications of the research for targeted audiences, 159 datasets and 1308 project outputs (journal articles etc.) available through the Relu Knowledge Portal (http://relu.data-archive.ac.uk/) and over 700 items of media coverage.
First Year Of Impact 2004
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Driving data sharing across research disciplines in the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Knowledge Exchange workshop : main drivers for successful re-use of research data
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
URL http://www.knowledge-exchange.info/Default.aspx?ID=324
 
Description Relu news April 2007 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/news9Apr07.pdf
 
Description Relu news April 2008 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/NewsApril08.pdf
 
Description Relu news April 2009 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/NewsApr09.pdf
 
Description Relu news April 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Rural Economy and Land Use Programme newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/NewsApril-2011.pdf
 
Description Relu news April 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Rural Economy and Land Use Programme newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/NewsApr12.pdf
 
Description Relu news January 2007 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/News7OctDec06.pdf
 
Description Relu news January 2008 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/January%202008.pdf
 
Description Relu news January 2009 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/NewsJan09.pdf
 
Description Relu news January 2010 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/NewsJan10.pdf
 
Description Relu news January 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Rural Economy and Land Use Programme newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/Relu-Jan-2011.pdf
 
Description Relu news January 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Rural Economy and Land Use Programme newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/NewsJan12.pdf
 
Description Relu news July 2007 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/news10jul07.pdf
 
Description Relu news July 2008 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/NewsJul08.pdf
 
Description Relu news July 2009 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/NewsJuly09.pdf
 
Description Relu news July 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Rural Economy and Land Use Programme newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/July-2011.pdf
 
Description Relu news July 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Rural Economy and Land Use Programme newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/Relu-July%202012.pdf
 
Description Relu news October 2007 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/news11Oct07.pdf
 
Description Relu news October 2008 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/NewsOct08.pdf
 
Description Relu news October 2009 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Relu Newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/NewsOct09.pdf
 
Description Relu news October 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Rural Economy and Land Use Programme newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/NewsOct11.pdf
 
Description Relu news October 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Rural Economy and Land Use Programme newsletter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.relu.ac.uk/news/Newsletters/NewsOct12.pdf