Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

North-South workshop

North-South workshop

North-South workshop


Wageningen can improve its interdisciplinary cooperation

How to go about nature conservation in Africa, while the local population
relies on poaching to earn a living? Which should be given priority: the
livelihood of these people or the protection of nature? Competing claims on
natural resources were the theme at a workshop organised by the North-South
Centre last Tuesday.

Dr Andrew Long, son of the former chair of rural sociology Norman Long,
presented examples from wildlife conservation projects in Namibia and
Zambia. His conclusion was that to understand conflicts over natural
resources, researchers need to immerse themselves in the local context as
well as understanding each other’s perspective. An agronomist has a
different perspective from an economist, and a nature conservationist from
a sociologist. Different disciplines also talk different languages and
different ways of explaining reality. Contested resources are reflected in
contesting research.

Bringing together different disciplines was exactly what this workshop was
aiming for. Various participants voiced the opinion that Wageningen UR has
all the right cards to excel in interdisciplinary cooperation. Dr Alberto
Arce, sociologist, declared that he was optimistic that a new overarching
paradigm was about to be born. As he put it, referring to the model-
builders at the Crop and Weed Ecology group: “I didn’t realise I would be
able to communicate so easily with these guys. I never thought that people
on the other side would have the same dreams.

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