Through our research, policy engagement, teaching and training, the Rural Futures cluster supports the emergence of development pathways that deliver both greater social justice and sustainability for rural people and places, while recognising their important interconnections with urban areas and the links between local change processes and those at national and global levels.
Rural societies, economies and areas face challenges and opportunities that can be qualitatively different from their urban analogues, including limited access to infrastructure, services and political decision-making and greater exposure to some kinds of environmental shocks and stresses.
Many possible rural futures can be envisaged, each carrying implications for local livelihoods, poverty and social relations, conflict, migration, production and distribution systems, food security, natural resource management and environmental change.
We believe that improvements in social justice and sustainability can be achieved by opening up a diversity of economic, environmental and technological pathways, practices, models and institutional arrangements that create new democratic spaces, strengthen social movements, enhance innovation and empower rural men, women and young people to take greater control over their productive assets.
The aspirations, agency, voices and assets of rural people must be central to these dynamic processes. The empowerment of people in rural areas who are poor and vulnerable are central to our concerns.