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Thinking forward through the past: The history of lameness in British livestock farming, c1947-2001

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  • Full or part time
    Prof A Woods
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This is an exciting opportunity for a PhD student to join a new Wellcome Trust-funded inter-disciplinary team of 14 staff and students, working across 6 universities on the past, present and future of endemic livestock disease in Britain. Experts in history, geography, rural sociology, economics and epidemiology are coming together to study the inter-connected pasts, presents and futures of two exemplar endemic livestock diseases: Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, and lameness in cattle and sheep. Working within and across disciplinary clusters, we aim to develop innovative methods, and new disciplinary and inter-disciplinary insights that will advance scholarship, and have a lasting impact on disease control policy and practice.

The student will be based in the Department of History at King’s College London and supervised by Professor Abigail Woods (KCL) and Professor Laura Green (Warwick University), and work closely with project historians based at Leeds Trinity University: Professor Karen Sayer and a post-doctoral research associate. Drawing on farming magazines, veterinary and scientific journals, film and oral history collections, government archives and other source materials, s/he will conduct historical research that addresses the following questions:

• How has the history of lameness been shaped by human-animal relationships, prices and policies, values and worldviews, community norms and expectations, consumer preferences, trading and husbandry practices, and other such factors?
• How and why has the incidence of lameness changed in different farming systems?
• How have vets and farmers understood the causes of lameness, its identity as a disease, and the interventions needed to prevent and manage it? How and why have these understandings changed over time?
• How has science of lameness evolved over time? How, where and by whom was it investigated, and with what effects?
• How were lameness ideas and practices disseminated by experts, the media, and farming communities?
• How was lameness represented in veterinary journals, farming magazines and educational films?

This work will inform, and be informed by wider historical, social scientific, economic and epidemiological analyses of lameness. To facilitate the integration of these different disciplinary perspectives, the student will be expected to participate in regular team meetings, to engage with the methods and perspectives of other disciplines, and to make their materials and findings accessible to other team members via on-line platforms. They will also be expected to engage in collaborative working with food and farming stakeholders, to participate in public engagement activities, and to manage and prioritise tasks in line with project deadlines.

The successful candidate should have (or expect to have by October 2018), a Masters degree with at least a Merit (or international equivalent) including a dissertation mark of no less than 65%.

Applicants are not required to have a background in History, but should possess research and analytical skills relevant to this project, developed via Masters-level study of: history; history of science, technology and medicine; science and technology studies; science communication; historical geography; historical sociology; science communication; anthrozoology, or another cognate field. Qualified vets with training in history or social science are also encouraged to apply.

A collaborative ethos, experience of team-working, and an enthusiasm for working beyond the candidate’s immediate field of expertise are essential attributes.

The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to engage in paid work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the KCL Department of History.

To apply


Please send a CV and covering letter that outlines experience relevant to the project and your motivations in applying for it. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an expenses-paid interview at Kings College London.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the Wellcome Trust and includes:
• Tuition fees at UK rates (currently £4800/year for 3 years)
• A studentship stipend of: £22,278 (Y1), £24,093 (Y2), £26,057 (Y3)
• Expenses for research, public engagement and attending team meetings
• A £1500 allowance for attending conferences, with the opportunity to apply for top-up funding from the KCL Faculty of Arts and Humanities.


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