The International Rural Development programme offered at Lincoln University aligns with the University’s focus on land and with the Millennium Development Goals of ending extreme poverty and hunger and promoting environmental sustainability. The recent food price crisis highlighted two important lessons for pro-poor economic growth: First, there has been relatively little investment in agriculture in the past two decades, especially in poor countries. Second, opportunities created by rising world food prices were not captured by smallholders in these countries. Global food security and political stability will be severely tested if smallholders in poor countries do not benefit from and respond to rising food prices. In 2008 the international community prioritised investment in agriculture and the formation of sustainable community organisations to link small producers with markets and to manage shared natural resources like communal forest, fisheries, grazing and eco-tourism amenities. These themes form the basis of IRD research at Lincoln University and also its teaching, in conjunction with more generic subjects like project planning and research methodology.
International Rural Development draws on courses offered by a wide variety of Departments in the Faculties of Commerce and Environment, Society and Design (ESD). Supervisors are drawn from these Faculties and the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences (AGLS) depending on the research topic. Students working on development topics also benefit from the activities of LUCID, Lincoln University’s Centre for International Development. LUCID publicises development research undertaken by Lincoln’s staff and students, and secures contracts that finance postgraduate research.
Students that specialise in International Rural Development, or who take courses offered by the programme, tend to have undergraduate backgrounds in:
- Agriculture, Forestry and other applied sciences
- Agribusiness, Economics, Finance, Management and Marketing
- Environmental or Natural Resource Management
The vast majority of these students come from the Pacific Island Countries, South East Asia and South Asia, and many work for government and non-government development agencies and the private sector. The programme prepares students to work at an applied level (for example planning, managing and evaluating rural development projects), as researchers, or as advisors at the planning and policy levels.