Who knows best when creating technology?

What attempts are being made to ‘improve reality’ and who are the real beneficiaries of bids to mould the future to the vision of a few, powerful actors? STEPS Centre PhD student Justin Pickard explored a variety of inititaives to improve reality on a global scale as part of a session at the Brighton Digital Festival last…

The Water Cookbook: Bhagwati Prasad’s strange and beautiful illustrations from peri-urban Delhi

I’ve just come across a copy of The Water Cookbook which I was given by Lyla Mehta, produced by part of our project looking at water conflicts in peri-urban Delhi. It’s an amazing set of illustrations by Bhagwati Prasad of the Delhi-based research centre Sarai programme, which uses art and media to respond to and…

Don’t believe the hype: Who authors our futures?

A chain of technological developments set into motion by chemist and physicist Gordon Moore more than 45 years ago is still resonating in technological choices being made today, says Justin Pickard, a STEPS Centre PhD student, in a blogpost for The Guardian published today. Justin, who is researching the relationship between uncertainty, infrastructure and grassroots innovation and working…

Living on the edge: Rethinking aid amidst complexity

By Melissa Leach, STEPS Centre director These days, a remarkably short and convenient flight takes one from Sussex UK –  where among other STEPS Centre activities this week I’ve been contributing to the post-2015 global sustainable development goals process and the international Future Earth Science Committee  – and Sierra Leone. Here, I’m on my way…

Where branding and sustainability collide

By Nathan Oxley, Communications Officer, STEPS Centre Peace Parks sound lovely, don’t they? I mean, who would be against the idea of creating a nature reserve across national borders to promote co-operation, development and conservation? Sign in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape, South Africa Bram Büscher (Institute of Social Studies), who gave a STEPS Centre Seminar last…

From Uncertainty in India to low carbon in Kenya: Our autumn newsletter is out now

Our autumn 2013 newsletter gives a snapshot of a few of the areas we are researching right now.  A new briefing looks at how people deal with uncertainty about climate, disease or natural disasters in India, while new resources highlight pathways of pro-poor energy access in Kenya.  A new policy briefing examines how science and politics must be engaged in a post-2015 framework, while…

A new way of bringing ‘farms’ and ‘systems’ together

by Jim Sumberg, Stephen Whitfield and Ken Giller How do we understand farms as systems, and farms as part of systems? The terms and definitions that researchers use affect how we see farming and agriculture in relation to ecology, society and politics. So is it time for a rethink? The words ‘farm’ (or ‘farming’) and…

Building pathways of pro-poor energy access

The misconception that developing countries can plump for either increasing access to energy, or low carbon development, but not both, is exploded in a paper presented by Dr Rob Byrne, STEPS Centre energy and climate change co-convenor, at the Poverty Reduction, Equity, and Growth Network’s (PEGNet) conference this week. Because conventional high carbon energy options…

Citizens and science in a greener China

As China and the UK seek to collaborate more closely in science and innovation, there are lessons they can share about how to govern and debate new technologies, write Adrian Ely and David Tyfield in the Guardian today. A visit to Bejing by UK Chancellor George Osborne and science minister David Willetts this week, bought…

Good & evil: two articles on closing down the debate on GM crops

Is it right to call opponents of GM crops ‘wicked’? In a recent interview, Owen Paterson denounced in starkly moralistic language people whom he sees as holding up progress on Golden Rice and other genetically modified foods. In a piece for the Guardian’s Political Science blog, Andy Stirling argues in defence of scepticism and democracy…