Science and Technology Studies in Food and Environment

Engaging with and contributing to debates in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS), this theme includes reconceptualising knowledge practices and knowledge exchange in agriculture, food and rural development, promoting reflexivity and interdisciplinary practice, and developing participatory environmental science in rural contexts.   As part of a School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development in a science faculty, CRE is ideally placed to take a lead in the nascent STS of farming and food.  The key achievements have been: completion of studies on the policy-learning and governance processes and science policy implications of the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak; and establishing a major agenda on interdisciplinary working and knowledge-exchange since 2004, which brings the sociology of science and technology to bear on the natural sciences of food, farming and environment (7 Research Council projects to date).

Understanding Knowledge Controversies in Food and Environment: CRE has a strong tradition of working on public controversies in food, farming and environment, drawing on insights from STS and including work on farm pollution, animal disease and food risk.  This work has been given new impetus through several RELU interdisciplinary projects which are examining angling and river catchment ecology and controversies around land use and flood risk.

Collaborative Knowledge Production and Exchange: CRE research has often engaged practitioners and policy-makers, not just as research users in the conventional sense but as active stakeholders in the framing and conduct of research.  RELU-funded work has developed new conceptualisations of collaborative knowledge practices and knowledge exchange, with a particular emphasis on collaboration between social and natural scientists and also between academic researchers and practitioners and publics. 

The Politics of Biosecurity: The 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) crisis brought the term biosecurity into popular and political usage. CRE has been well-placed to develop pioneering social science analyses of the politics and knowledge practices around biosecurity and animal disease issues in general because of our interdisciplinary social science approach and the potential for engagement with natural scientists. This work has developed into research on the veterinary profession.

Future work is planned to focus on models of collaborative knowledge production, the practice of interdisciplinary research, science and regulation in agriculture and the politics of expertise.


Current projects include:


Current PhD research projects include:

  • Veterinary expertise in the rural economy and policy making (Justin Armstrong)

  • Setting Science-Based International Food Standards Under The World Trade System (Richard Lee)

  • The role of advice and expertise in animal disease management (Katy Wilkinson)

Please click on the links above for more information about projects involving CRE researchers.