Researcher

Dr Alec Thornton

My Expertise

Food security; rural agriculture; urban agriculture; small scale farming; poverty; community-based development; sustainable development; Sub-Saharan Africa; South Pacific

Fields of Research (FoR)

Sustainable Development, Human Geography, Economic Development Policy, Architecture and Urban Environment not elsewhere c

SEO tags

Biography

Dr Alec Thornton is a freelance international development expert. He has a MA in Rural Development and PhD in Development Studies from the University of Sussex, UK. Since 2021, Alec is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Geography in the School of Science at UNSW Canberra.

Alec is a Research to Practice Associate, with the Institute for Global Development (IGD) at UNSW Sydney. He is also a Senior Research Associate held jointly between the School...view more

Dr Alec Thornton is a freelance international development expert. He has a MA in Rural Development and PhD in Development Studies from the University of Sussex, UK. Since 2021, Alec is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Geography in the School of Science at UNSW Canberra.

Alec is a Research to Practice Associate, with the Institute for Global Development (IGD) at UNSW Sydney. He is also a Senior Research Associate held jointly between the School of Anthropology and Development Studies, as well as the School of Tourism at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Alec specialises in Participatory and Sustainable Livelihoods approaches to monitoring and evaluations of food security, rural and urban agriculture and has widely published these topics in empirical case studies located in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zambia, as well as in Australia, Germany and the USA. He is Honorary Senior Lecturer in Geography at UNSW Canberra and Research and Practice Associate at the Institute for Global Development (IGD) at UNSW Sydney. He is also Senior Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg, in the School of Humanities and the School of Tourism & Hospitality. 

Alec is located in Berlin, Germany.

Specialties: participatory research, sustainable livelihoods, food security, food systems governance, urban and rural agriculture.

Editorial boards: Sustainability (2019-present); Australasian Review of African Studies (2015-2017); Urban Forum (2010-2016); Journal of Applied Geography (2010-2015).


My Grants

Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN) 2019 Partnership and Research Development Fund Award
Project: Integrating Urban Green Infrastructure and Food Security for Economic Development in African Cities

University of Western Australia FABLE Research Collaboration Awards (2019-2020)
Project: Creating Smarter Cities in East Africa

Australian Government DFAT New Colombo Mobility Grant (2016-2019)
Project: Samoa Field School for Geography Research Methods

 


My Qualifications

PhD Development Studies (2006) University of Sussex (UK)

MA Rural Development (2002) University of Sussex (UK)

BA Political Science/International Relations (2000) University of Massachusetts, Boston (USA)


My Research Supervision


Supervision keywords


Areas of supervision

I am interested in supervising PhD students on topics related to: Alternative food economies, urban food governance and urban agriculture in North and South cities.


Currently supervising

Supervisor (2018-present): Toiaba Binta Taher,PhD Candidate, School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, UNSW Canberra. Thesis topic: Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Valuing Forest Ecosystem Services in the World’s Largest Mangrove Forest

 

Supervisor (2017-present): Israel Dela Cruz,PhD Candidate, School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, UNSW Canberra. Thesis topic: A Critical Analysis of Urban Agriculture and Urban Food Policy in Australia

 

Supervisor (2016-present): Sothun Nop, PhD Candidate, School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, UNSW Canberra. Thesis topic: Planning for Urban Resilience: A Case of Phnom Penh City, Cambodia

 

Co-Supervisor (2016-present): Nishat Falgunee, PhD Candidate, School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, UNSW Canberra. Thesis topic: Urban agriculture as a strategy for women empowerment


My Engagement

Institute for Global Development (UNSW Sydney) Academic Co-Lead for Africa

Member: African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (Vice President 2011-2017)

Member: Agri-Food Research Network

Member: Urban Agriculture Europe / European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)

Editorial board: Applied Geography (past)

Editorial board: Urban Forum (past)

Editorial board: Australasian Review of African Studies (past)

Editorial board: Sustainability (current)


My Teaching

ZPEM3208 Geographic Research Methods

ZPEM2209/ZPEM8209 Development Geography

ZPEM1202 Contemporary Global Change

View less

Videos

Feeding the Future (Part 1)
Does Australia have Food Security? (2017)
Feeding the Future (Part 2)
This film will focus on results from a Participatory Rural Appraisal of rural farming in Sierra Leone. It documents the difficulties that smallholder rice farmers face in earning a living, and as market producers. This film features voices from the rice farmers themselves, where they acted as filmmakers to document their own stories through Participatory Video, for the purposes of informing rural development policy. Other Participatory methods, such as seasonal calendars and resource mapping, and focus groups engaged male, female and youth farmers in a process where they identified their challenges and capacity building needs. Smallholders encourage the government to follow through with promises of a grassroots or ‘bottom-up’ approach to improving the rural farming sector. This approach would focus on capacity building needs as identified by the farmers.
Feeding The Future - Part 1 Food Security
Does Australia have food security?
Feeding The Future - Part 2 Community Greengrocers
7 Billion - Food
Rural farming in Sierra Leone: white rice not white elephants