Photo of John Thompson, a Research Fellow with the Knowledge Technology and Society Team

John Thompson - Research Fellow

Knowledge Technology and Society
T: +44 (0)1273 915682


Oliver Burch

Thematic Expertise:
Agriculture; Land Reform and Rights; Livestock and Pastoralism; Agri-food Business and Agricultural Trade; Climate Change; Environment; Globalisation; Science and Society; Water and Sanitation.

Geographic Expertise:
Central and South Asia; East Asia (excluding Japan and South Korea); Non-OECD Europe; North America; OECD Europe; Sub Saharan Africa.

John Thompson has worked on power, policy and sustainability issues in food and agriculture, water resource management and rural development for nearly 25 years, in both developing and industrialised countries.

He joined IDS in October 2006 as a Research Fellow and serves as Joint Co-ordinator of the Future Agricultures Consortium, which aims to encourage critical debate and policy dialogue on the future of agriculture in Africa and other developing regions.

Previously, he served as Director of the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Programme of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, and Director of Research and Development of Just Food, New York City. Thompson has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, technical papers and reports, and is author and co-editor of several books.

In addition, he has sat on several international task forces, advisory panels and editorial boards, and has worked as a Research Associate at the National Environment Secretariat, Kenya, a Research Fellow at Clark and Harvard Universities, USA, and a Fellow at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria.

Modern agricultural biotechnology has profound implications for global and local agricultural and food systems, and for the livelihoods of farmers in the developed and developing worlds. The actual consequences will depend on the pathways along which the technology is developed and applied in practice.

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The DFID funded Future Agricultures Consortium is an Africa-based alliance of research organisations seeking to provide timely, high-quality and independent information and advice to improve agricultural policy and practice in Africa. Through a network of over 90 researchers across the region and around the world, we are showing how agricultural policy in Africa can help to reduce poverty and strengthen agricultural growth.

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The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development.

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Ending Hunger and Malnutrition

The first article in this virtual IDS Bulletin is by Michael Lipton and dates from 1982. In that year the WHO stunting rate for children of preschool age in sub-Saharan Africa was 39 per cent. In 2012 the rate is still 39 per cent. More details

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Contested Agronomy: Agricultural Research in a Changing World

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The Politics of Seed in Africa’s Green Revolution

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IDS publications on international development research

Addressing the Dynamics of Agri-Food Systems: An Emerging Agenda for Social Science Research

The ‘modernist’ project that has come to dominate food and agricultural policy has failed to provide sustainable outcomes for many poor people in developing countries. More details

STEPS Working Paper 36

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Farmer First Revisited: Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development

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IDS publications on international development research

Empowering Designs: Steps Towards More Progressive Social Appraisal of Sustainability

The challenges of designing new frameworks for social appraisal aimed at sustainability and social justice are reviewed by this paper. Here, 'social appraisal' refers to the ways society gathers knowledges to inform policy decisions and discourse and a number of key features of potentially more empowering 'pathways' approaches are identified. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Dynamic Systems and the Challenge of Sustainability

Dynamism, uncertainty and complexity dominate today's world. Yet many policy interventions ignore this, and so often fail. What is missing is a rigorous and systematic approach to addressing dynamics, one that encompasses an understanding of complex system dynamics and provides a useable guide to action. More details

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