Placement with Common Wealth: Rob Booth
Rob is on the Human Geography pathway at the University of Birmingham. His research topic is: “The Contested Futures of UK Farming: Livelihoods, Landscapes and Technologies”. Between September and November 2021 he undertook a Placement at Common Wealth, a research-driven civil society organisation which focuses on developing and promoting ways to transform the management and ownership of institutions in order to create an economy fit for the challenges of the 21st century.
Rob’s primary focus was undertaking a review of relevant grey literature, policy analysis and case study research in order to work on two research outputs, both of which have now been published. The first concerns policy options for future regulation around agricultural research, data, and advisory services and can be accessed here. The second which addresses arguments around the Right to Food and agricultural policy can be accessed here.
Reaching out to other figures from civil society groups and academia working in this space was a central part of Rob’s placement. In the course of releasing and promoting the research outputs he collated a register of potentially interested stakeholders from parliament, civil society and academia, then worked to disseminate the report and liaise with interested parties. This involved helping draft a press release, social media lines and providing summaries of the reports to potentially interested journalists or publications. He was also involved with the broader research environment at Common Wealth, notably participating in meetings involving current research in development, including on electric vehicles.
Rob met his aims of developing sectoral knowledge through being able to spend time analysing grey literature and other non-academic literature. He developed his skills in research management and knowledge co-production, working collaboratively with his host organisation. He developed his skills in writing for a non-academic audience and his knowledge of how best to consider presenting different kinds of content. And looking forward, he achieved his aim of broadening his network of contacts and improving his academic profile through the publication of his work.
On the positive impact of the Placement, Rob comments:
“I believe the placement will have a positive impact on my PhD research and my future career. In terms of my PhD research, it has exposed me to literatures, ideas, and approaches towards analysing food systems which have broadened my horizons and will shape my future fieldwork and research. For example, one output involved research focused on agricultural technology and data which I believe is a framing well suited to my PhD research which will influence the direction of my research going forward. This is also a conceptual area where I believe there are gaps in terms of both the academic literature and UK policy landscape, a fact made clear by this placement that I hope to take advantage of. In terms of my future career, I hope that the contacts and networks I have developed will help me continue to develop and share ideas which will shape my future journey as a researcher, be it in an academic or non-academic context.”
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