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About Ian Scoones

Director

Ian is an agricultural ecologist whose research links natural and social sciences, focusing on relationships between science and technology, local knowledge and livelihoods and the politics of agricultural, environment and development policy processes.

All posts by Ian

Herder with a flock of sheep in a dryland landscape, with sun setting behind mountains in the background

Beyond the ‘Balance of Nature’: Pastoralists’ Alternative Perspectives on Sustainability

By Ian Scoones and PASTRES Read the original blogpost David Attenborough’s mission to restore the balance of nature in the documentary A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement, is at once inspiring and concerning. What if the balance of nature doesn’t exist? What if this mission is misplaced? PASTRES lead researcher Ian Scoones, in a recent…

Change mural

Post-pandemic transformations: new directions for development studies?

by Melissa Leach, Hayley MacGregor and Ian Scoones Does the pandemic reveal new directions for development studies? This was the focus of discussion at a recent IDS seminar. A new paper in World Development on ‘post-pandemic transformations’ by a group of us at IDS was the starting point. Although the pandemic is far from over, some…

The STEPS Centre’s final year: reflections on a 15-year journey

by Ian Scoones and Andy Stirling, STEPS co-directors 2021 is the final year of the ESRC STEPS Centre. Established in 2006, but with an even longer backstory, we have come a long way. This blog post reflects on the journey, and looks forward to the future. As the formal version of the Centre at Sussex…

Person with full-body protective clothing walks behind a fence

Pandemics: why a new science is needed

What do bubonic plague, Lyme disease, Ebola, Marburg disease, Nipah, sleeping sickness, Lassa fever, avian influenza, Western equine encephalitis, SARS and COVID-19 have in common? All are zoonotic diseases, ones that have jumped from animals to humans. Not all have turned into pandemics – where a disease spreads across multiple countries – but some certainly…

Five lessons from past global influenza outbreaks for COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a rare event in its scale and spread. But in responding to it, people have been looking at lessons from other outbreaks of infectious disease. What are the patterns in the ways that governments and people respond, and why have some widely-known lessons been ignored again and again? One source of…

UK press conference

Science, uncertainty and the COVID-19 response

One of the abiding images of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the UK has been the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, looking nervous and uncomfortable, flanked by his scientific advisors at the regular press conferences. With three white men in suits in a wood-panelled room, the aim presumably was to project a sense of control and…

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump standing on a staircase together

Rural support for authoritarian populism is strong – but another way is possible

The rise of authoritarian populism continues. Now the UK has a fully signed-up version in its new right-wing government, with allies in Trump, Modi, Bolsarano, Orban and others. It is a dangerous, but perhaps inevitable, trend. The soul-searching on the Left after the UK election rather belatedly diagnosed the problem. It has been long in…

Uncertainty and the Zimbabwean economy

Over the last month there have been a number of reviews of progress – or the lack of it – since the ‘coup’ of November 2017 (see, for example, a recent BSR here). President Mnangagwa arrived in post on the back of much good will and hope for change. But hopes have been dramatically dashed…

Question marks

Responding to uncertainty: who are the experts?

Uncertainties are everywhere, part of life. But how to respond? Who are the experts? These are questions that we are debating this week at a symposium entitled ‘The Politics of Uncertainty: Practical Challenges for Transformative Action’. But they are also questions very pertinent to daily life in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere in the world. Everyday uncertainties For…