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The fourth agricultural revolution: social and ethical issues at the interfaces between technology and farming communities

  • Full or part time
    Dr D Rose
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, September 07, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Agriculture sits on the cusp of a fourth technology revolution. New technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Drones, Big Data, the Internet of Things, robotics, gene editing (and more!), have the potential to transform food production beyond recognition. Impacts may be positive, increasing production and eco-efficiency, but the social and ethical impacts are currently not being carefully considered.
Full funding for this studentship is available for topics related to the intersection of technology and agricultural society. Applicants should take note of Dr Rose’s research interests and develop a student-led proposal related to agricultural technology in one of the following areas:
- Farmer behaviour and technology adoption – students are encouraged to think beyond the problematic paradigms of tech transfer and end user behaviour change and think more about knowledge exchange and participatory approaches.
- Social and ethical impacts of the new tech revolution – focusing on the forgotten social impacts of new technologies like AI, big data, robots. This may include issues relating to how technology will change farming and rural communities at different scales, and issues relating to data ownership, changing employment structures, farmer mental and physical health, animal welfare, farm safety etc.
- Responsible innovation of emergent agri-tech – how can agri-tech be responsibly designed, who should be involved, what governance frameworks are needed?
- Other projects related to the social side of agri-tech will be considered e.g. co-design/user-centred design of tech, gender, age, place perspectives on technology use.
The geographical context of the research is open. Much of Dr Rose’s research is UK-based, but a co-supervisor at Reading will be able to bring region-specific experience to the team if needed. It is envisaged that the research topic will take an inter-disciplinary approach, primarily using qualitative methodologies (but not necessarily exclusively so).

Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree or equivalent in subjects related to the topics. These could include Agriculture, Geography, Sociology, Science and Technology Studies, Environmental Sciences, Psychology, Political Science or other subjects across the social sciences.
To apply for this studentship please submit the following directly to Dr David Rose ( [Dr Rose will join Reading from the Autumn]): (1) CV, (2) Cover letter of no more than three sides covering the following points: (a) outline research proposal including research questions and methodology, and (b) skills and experience relevant to the proposed project. Dr Rose is available to be contacted at the same address for informal enquiries. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a panel interview at Reading (or via Skype if more convenient) at the end of September.

Funding Notes

A three year award to start November 4th 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. Funding covers full tuition fee plus UKRI stipend (£15,009 GBP per annum)
Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is open to UK/EU students only.

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