An event to celebrate the achievements of Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy over the past 21 years is being held today at Alnwick Castle.
It will mark the launch of a £2.5 million fundraising campaign to grow Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) and secure its position as a world leader in rural economy research.
CRE was established in 1992 through a public appeal in memory of the 10th Duke of Northumberland, a man with a lifelong interest in and influence over agriculture and rural affairs and the first Chancellor of Newcastle University.
A committee of volunteers - including his son the present Duke and chaired by Viscount Ridley, who was Chancellor of the University at the time - raised £1 million to establish the Centre.
It was this independence from Government funding which allowed the CRE research team to scrutinise, question and advise on some of the biggest issues facing our rural communities both here in the UK and around the world.
In the last two decades, the Centre has played a significant role in shaping the infrastructure for rural policy in the UK, including the establishment of Defra, the Commission for Rural Communities and several rural white papers. In Europe, CRE had a major impact on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
And last week, CRE’s reputation as a driving force for research into rural economies and societies was recognised with the award of a Queen's Anniversary Prize.
Guy Garrod, Director of CRE, said: “Since its creation in 1992 the Centre for Rural Economy has updated the picture of rural economies and societies. We have led the way in changing the image of the ‘rural’ away from something that has not moved with the times into that which has its own rich sources of dynamism beyond agricultural development.
“It was fantastic to mark our 21st anniversary with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize. Now we need to look ahead to the next 21 years and beyond. Rural issues embrace everything from providing education and healthcare to people living in the countryside through to the management of national parks and the challenges facing the farming and food industries. Rural areas also have a role to play in combatting climate change through renewable energies and land and water management.
“A growing focus of CRE is also around food security, addressing concerns over the integrity of our food supplies and helping society and policymakers to better assess and communicate the risks associated with new technologies and novel food sources.”
Professor Steve Homans, Pro-Vice-Chancellor SAgE, added: "The University is committed to investing in, and growing, this world-leading Centre and we have already allocated funds to create lectureships in three key areas; Social Statistics, Consumer Behaviour and Agri-Business Management. The new funding appeal being launched today will ensure the continuance of this vital research and play a part in helping to shape the Centre for Rural Economy over the next 21 years and beyond."
The Centre’s achievements include:
- Establishing the Northern Rural Network (NRN) bringing together academics, businesses, rural professionals and community leaders to foster rural development in the region.
- Playing an active role in the establishment of the Nortumbria Larder following the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in 2002.
- Directing the UK research councils’ £25m Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) Programme to research options for the future of Britain’s countryside.
- Developing national and international rural policy. Academics at the Centre have contributed to various Government White Papers, chaired the Scottish Government’s Commission on the Future of Crofting and served on the Countryside Agency, Commission for Rural Communities, and Affordable Rural Housing Commission. The Centre contributed to the ‘greening’ of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and other European rural policy initiatives like LEADER.
Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland adds: “The Duke of Northumberland Professor of Rural Economy and his colleagues over the past 21 years have delivered great benefits for Northumberland and other rural areas and the Centre has become the leading voice in the country for rural research.”
published on: 27 November 2013