Assistant Professor Marit E. Kragt recently spent two months overseas as a visiting academic in the UK and the Netherlands. It was a wonderful experience to learn how people work at other universities, and to establish links with many interesting colleagues.
The research trip focussed on two main themes: agri-environmental management by private landholders, and evidence-based environmental decision making.
The trip started with the conference of the Agricultural Economics Society in Warwick, UK. Dr. Kragt organised a workshop on interdisciplinary bio-economic modelling as part of the conference. There were brief presentations from a range of different agricultural economists, who all experienced similar challenges to interdisciplinary research. Some key challenges that were identified are: ‘language' barriers, time commitments, flexibility, and disciplinary epistemologies. The workshop discussed how we can overcome such challenges, to improve the integration of biophysical science and economics. An important message was the need for more integrative researchers, and greater recognition for interdisciplinary work. Together with the workshop participants, Marit will write a paper to summarise the lessons and recommendations from the workshop for publication in the Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Other reasons to attend the AES conference were the presidential address by legendary Rob Fraser (former head of the School of Agricultural and Resource Economics), and the conference dinner during which Marit received the Prize for the 2013 Agricultural Economics Society's Essay Competition (UWA news 27 March 2013 www.news.uwa.edu.au).
After the AES conference, Dr. Kragt visited the Scottish Rural University College in Edinburgh, Bangor University in Wales, and Manchester University. She gave seminars about the Carbon Farming Initiative (www.are.uwa.edu.au/research/projects/carbon-farming) and the Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (www.inffer.org).).
In the Netherlands, Marit spent four weeks at the Free University of Amsterdam's Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) and at Wageningen University. The main objective of these visits was to meeting with academics to exchange research ideas, and to promote the research done at SARE and CEEP. The IVM in particular, was very interested in the multi-disciplinary applied research that is done at our School.
At Wageningen University, the Economics Division was surprisingly theory- and mono-disciplinary focussed. Even the agricultural and environmental economists seemed to value publications in high-ranking single-disciplinary economic journals above working on real-world issues in collaboration with biophysical scientists and decision makers. All the more reason for SARE and CEEP to continue demonstrating the importance and usefulness of interdisciplinary research, to empower people to make better decisions for society and the environment.
Professor Marit Kragt (School of Agricultural and Resource Economics) (+61 8) 6488 4653