Researching agro-environmental problems with others
[Editors’ introduction] Working towards sustainable agriculture often involves working on contested or controversial issues with others. They involve a complex mix of people, all with their own opinions and ways of seeing the world, such as civil society organisations, policy makers and companies. All the agri-environmental projects (those concerned with the environment but carried out in agricultural contexts) discussed in this chapter involve controversial issues, such as the introduction and development of GM crops, the potential power of large biotechnology companies, the increased use of biofuels, water and intensification of agriculture. As with the next chapter (Chapter 4), this chapter discusses the use and value of mapping techniques in these highly contested environmental research contexts. However, unlike Chapter 4 the projects drawn on here were all large scale, multi-partner, European projects. The processes and mapping techniques were chosen for specific purposes, according to the needs of the different projects, the context and type of participants involved and their strategic aims. They also represent the development of the authors approaches to engaging with people and demonstrate the way that the this approach has changed over time as they have sought ways to enable participants to engage in the research process more fully. Thus while the final project discussed in this chapter is less about mapping, it is included because its unusual funding arrangements enabled a different mode of research participation that provided useful insights for the more action-oriented research we advocate in this book.
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Mapping environmental sustainability: reflecting on systemic practices for participatory research
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