Knowledge Technology and Society
The Knowledge, Technology and Society Team puts forward the premise that science and technology offer crucial ways to reduce poverty and increase social justice by improving agricultural livelihoods, tackling ill-health and sustaining the environment.
The team therefore works to understand and influence the institutions and power-knowledge relationships that link technology, ecology and society; while simultaneously seeking to connect global debate with local realities through interdisciplinary research, networks and partnerships, teaching and training.
Such an approach is necessary because, although scientific advances promise tangible solutions for poverty and ill-health, many people remain excluded from the benefits of basic technology. In addition, although knowledge is crucial for linking rapid health, agricultural and environmental change to poverty reduction and social justice, global policy solutions often emphasise universalised and standardised forms of knowledge which fail to recognise dynamic local realities.
Although technology is made accessible, this often occurs through institutions which understand and use knowledge in particular ways, often highlighting the abstracted, neutral nature of science, rather than exploring how technology, science or knowledge might work in local contexts. Because these processes are responded to differently by people in local contexts, they frequently result in policy collapse, consternation, and social injustice.
In the world we live in, rapid innovation in science and technology occurs alongside dynamic social and ecological changes, creating optimism and new opportunities for health, agriculture and environmental development alongside new threats, risks and uncertainties. The KNOTS team believes that an interdisciplinary approach to science and technology – which takes seriously both science and society – is thus critical.& Our approach focuses on four core programme areas, Agriculture, Health, Water and Sanitation, and Environment, looking specifically at how to promote poverty reduction and social justice in these areas. Each programme has developed its own distinct research agenda, but collectively KNOTS researchers explore the following six core analytical themes:
- Knowledge, Power and Policy
- Risk, Uncertainties and Dynamics
- Governance and Regulation
- Access, Rights and Citizenship
- Livelihoods and Security
- Critical Engagements – Research, Communications and Influence
Working across the Agriculture, Environment, Water and Sanitation, and Health programmes – which are often treated as distinct and separate sectors in development – enables us to generate comparisons and cross-learning through debate and joint projects. The STEPS Centre provides an intellectual umbrella for significant portions of KNOTS work and facilitates the intellectual process of 'adding up' across these programme areas.
In order to achieve our aims and to situate scientific and technological knowledge in relation to indigenous, local, bodily or other kinds of knowledge, the KNOTS team encourages disciplinary diversity and is made up of specialists with anthropological, sociological, geographic, economic, ecological and medical expertise.
The team also experiments with and uses distinctive research methodologies involving detailed local fieldwork and collaborative partnerships in order to enhance our understanding of dynamic social and ecological changes. The team's work focuses on development contexts in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Nonetheless, we also research issues and track debates in European contexts, not only because these have significant bearing on development policy but also because of the importance of North-South connections in today's globalised world.
GM Crops and Indigenous Management Skill
This project examines the effects of GM seeds on the ‘indigenous management skill’ (IMS) that is crucial to the productivity and sustainability of small-scale crop cultivation. More details
Large development investment and local peacebuilding in rural Africa: building and sustaining peace at the margins’
The project examines the factors influencing local peace-building under different structures of local governance in northern Kenya and in Sierra Leone. More details
Roads for Water
Water is an invisible passenger travelling on and under roads. Roads also act as dikes altering run-off patterns and sometimes even re-arranging watersheds. Road programs and projects directly deal with existing land and water property and user rights: farmers gaining or losing water resources. More details
Non-communicable diseases and development: Future Pathways
This project examines the impact of the rise of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries. More details
South Africa and International Development Cooperation
The most recent BRICS member, officially joining in 2011, South Africa has since become a core component of the grouping and keen to establish itself as a rising power. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of South Africa in the field of international development cooperation. More details
Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium
A consortium of researchers aiming to advance understanding of the connections between disease and environment in Africa, focusing on animal-to-human disease transmission.. More details
Flows and Practices: The Politics of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Africa
This research seeks to link ideas of IWRM as constructed at the global and European level to their translation into narratives and practices in eastern and southern Africa. It will critically examine the interpretations and challenges of IWRM, hopefully contributing to improving water policies and practices and making them locally appropriate. More details
ARCADE RSDH: Asian Regional Capacity Development for Research on Social Determinants of Health
A Consotiurm lead by Karolinska Institutet developing new research training capacity for low and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Asia, to promote research on social determinants of health. The focus is doctoral and post doctoral training, institutional strengthening for education, research management and network building. More details
Potential of Mining PPPs to Strengthen Health Systems and Extend Health Services to Underserved Populations
This project has been designed to examine the scope for mining industry public-private partnerships (PPP) to strengthen health systems and extend health services to underserved populations More details
ARCADE HSSR: African Regional Capacity Development for Health Systems and Services Research
A Consortium led by Karolinska Institutet strengthening research training capacity at Sub Saharan African universities for health systems and services development. Focusing on doctoral and post doctoral training, institutional strengthening for education and research management. More details
Future Health Systems Research Programme Consortium
Future Health Systems is a research consortium working to improve access, affordability and quality of health services for the poor. More details
Tomorrow Today: Development Frontiers in an Insecure World: International Security and the Implications for Development
Development has long been linked with security. However, in recent years development and security have been linked in new ways. These new ties reflect changing conceptualisations of threats originating from aid-recipient contexts in an interdependent world and the expectation that development should help to prevent the spread of these risks. More details
Livelihoods After Land Reform
This collaborative project, which involves IDS and is led by the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) in South Africa, asks: to what extent is land redistribution in southern Africa achieving poverty reduction and livelihood improvement objectives? More details
Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre
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. More details
Going to Scale? The Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation
Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a participatory approach that started in Bangladesh and has been spread to varying degrees in India, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Nepal. To a limited degree, it has also been trialled in some African countries. More details
Veterinary Science, Transboundary Animal Diseases and Markets
Focusing on the case of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in southern Africa – and specifically Botswana, Nambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – this research is exploring the economic, social and political trade-offs arising from disease control strategies geared towards promoting commercial beef exports and achieving a ‘livestock revolution’. More details
Protecting the rural poor against the economic consequences of major illness
Major illness in the family has become an important cause of household impoverishment in China and the ex-command economies of Southeast Asia, as these countries have managed the transition to a market economy. More details
Environment and PRSPs
This research project was initiated and conceptualised in the framework of the Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP), an informal network of around 30-donor and non-governmental organisations that works on strengthening the nexus between poverty reduction and environmental protection in development cooperation. More details
Ensuring Health Care for the Rural Poor: alternative approaches in China and Vietnam
A comparative study of rural health care services undertaken in collaboration with partners in Vietnam and China. More details
Agricultural Impact Evaluation is Failing to Measure Up
New technology that enables sustainable and profitable production of food is critical for both food and nutrition security and economic development. Yet, recent research suggests assessments of the productivity gains farmers realise from new technology are routinely flawed methodologically and hence unreliable as a basis for decision making. More details
Ensuring Integrated Water Resource Management in Tanzania Benefits All
The introduction of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the early 1990s by international donors has led to some important new knowledge about availability and uses of water resources in Tanzania. More details
Addressing Issues of Equity and Poverty Reduction in South Africa’s Water Reforms
Over the last couple of decades Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has become the defining water policy paradigm across the globe. More details
Achieving a More Egalitarian Water Allocation System in Zimbabwe
A number of major changes have affected water use in Zimbabwe. These include an increased urban population putting heavy pressure on the inadequate and poorly maintained water infrastructure resulting in serious environmental concerns. More details
Learning from Southern Africa on Fair and Effective Integrated Water Resources Management
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been promoted by international donors, global water organisations and financers as the answer to the water crisis in the Global South. More details
Carbon Forestry and Climate Compatible Development in Mozambique: A Political Economy Analysis
This paper looks at the political economy of carbon forestry and REDD+ in Mozambique in view of goals for climate compatible development, i.e. simultaneously addressing emission reduction, adaptation and development. Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries and one of the most at risk from the effects of climate change. More details
Political Economy of Climate Compatible Development: Artisanal Fisheries and Climate Change in Ghana
Interest in prospects for policy processes that contribute to development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, known as ‘climate compatible development’, has been growing in response to increasing awareness of the impacts of climate change. More details
Innovation in Regulation of Rapidly Changing Health Markets
This paper explores the key issues associated with regulation of health markets in low and middle-income countries, and the different goals of regulation, namely quality and safety of care, value for money, social agreement over fair access and financing, and accountability. More details
Engaging with Health Markets in Low and Middle-Income Countries
Many low and middle-income countries have pluralistic health systems with a variety of providers of health-related goods and services in terms of their level of training, their ownership (public or private) and their relationship with the regulatory system. More details
Improving Co-benefits and 'Triple Win' Impacts from Climate Action: The Role of Guidance Tools
This addresses the role of tools in supporting interventions to achieve the ‘triple wins’ of adaptation, mitigation and development. More details
New Perspectives from PhD Field Research
This IDS Bulletin offers a platform for IDS PhD researchers to reflect on their fieldwork experiences, including research-related challenges, as well as cultural and personal encounters along the way. More details
Flows and Practices: Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in African Contexts
For the past two decades, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been considered the dominant paradigm in water resources. More details
Sexuality and the Law: Case Studies from Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal and South Africa
This paper provides a synthesis of five case studies on the relationship between sexuality and law. More details
Undercurrents of Violence: Why Sierra Leone’s Political Settlement is not Working
Debates over violence, security, humanitarian and development imperatives have long been polarised. More details
Reimagining Development 3.0 for a Changing Planet
This working paper argues we need to reimagine development tactics to fashion Development 3.0, to match what business analysts now call World 3.0, a global system characterized by high turbulence and new threats. More details
Climate Change and Development
Climate change is the defining developmental challenge of our times. Its impacts threaten to reverse hard won developmental achievements of past decades. Poor countries and peoples will generally be hit soonest and hardest despite them contributing least to causing the problem. More details
The 2001-03 Famine and the Dynamics of HIV in Malawi: An (Un)natural Experiment
The number of people without secure access to food has risen over the past 15 years, in large part propelled by high and volatile food prices. This pattern is likely to continue under the influence of speculation, increasing demand from rapidly growing economies and for biofuels and due to the effects on production of climate change and variability. Most vulnerable are consumers and small farmers in countries where farming is predominantly rainfed. More details
Policy Audit: A heteronormativity audit of RMSA - a higher education programme in Indian schools
This report shares the findings of a sexuality and gender audit of a national government programme to strengthen secondary school education in India More details
Related Content - News & Blogs
Land policy for the next decade - Taking stock and moving forward
The inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa got off to an energetic start with a panel of eminent speakers issuing a clarion call for action to secure the land rights of rural residents across the continent.
China and Brazil in African agriculture news roundup
From the KNOTS team blog
Reviving indigenous crops - the return of millet in Gutu
By Ian Scoones
China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup
From the KNOTS team blog
The problem is political. Is the solution technical?
The world is becoming increasingly urban, with over half of the world’s total population now residing in cities. While urban areas offer many economic and livelihood opportunities, they are increasingly characterised by growing inequality.
ESRC Studentships - study with the STEPS Centre
The STEPS Centre is delighted to offer PhD training in association with the Sussex ESRC Doctoral Training Centre, one of a network of 21 Doctoral Training Centres in the UK, set up by the Economic and Social Research Council to support the development and research training of postgraduate researchers.
The big thaw - Zimbabwe comes in from the cold
The last few weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity, culminating in the announcement that the European Union is to remove restrictions on financial aid to the government, and a new $300m programme would start in the new year focused on governance, health and agriculture.
Political Ecology - resources, power and justice
With conceptual roots in political economy and cultural ecology, as well as close relationships with development studies and science and technology studies, the multidisciplinary field of political ecology shares a number of theoretical and methodological complementarities with the STEPS Centre’s pathways approach.
China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup
This news round-up has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project. For regular updates from the project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.
Buzzfeed. A new home for research?
When the Policy Influence and Research Uptake team for FHS first outlined its strategy, it enumerated a number of key principles that underpinned our work.
Everything you’ve ever needed to know about health systems
Whether you're a wonk that needs to brush up, a student, a health care practitioner or just an interested and engaged citizen – this primer is full of everything you've ever needed to know about health systems and how they function around the world.
STEPS América Latina at the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network
From the KNOTS team blog
Related Content - Events
Geography is not Destiny and History need not Repeat: Trade Politics and State Development in the Global South
14 November 2014 13:00 to 14:30
Institute of Development Studies Room 221
There are Alternatives to Recession in Southern Europe: Lessons from Developing and Emerging Countries
31 October 2014 13:00 to 14:30
Room 221, Institute of Development Studies
Integrating Development Action and Building Organisations that can Challenge Poverty
30 September 2014 12:30 to 14:00
IDS Convening Space
The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy Processes in Africa
24 September 2014 9:00am to 5:00pm
Overseas Development Institute
STEPS Seminar - The Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in achieving an Open Defecation Free (ODF) World
20 May 2014 12:15 to 14.00
Institute of Development Studies
UNICEF and IDS Conference: Rethinking Urbanisation and Equity in Asia: Harnessing the Potential of Urban Living for All Children
9 June 2014 - 10 June 2014 08:30 to 17:00
IDS Convening Space and Room 221