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

Field of Research (FoR)

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Biography

Dr Alec Thornton is a Senior Lecturer in Geography in the School of Science at UNSW Canberra.

He is Academic Co-Lead for Africa, with the Institute for Global Development (IGD) at UNSW Sydney: http://www.international.unsw.edu.au/institute_global_development.

Alec is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Humanities and the School of Tourism at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

For Future Research Students: Ph.D. scholarships...view more

Dr Alec Thornton is a Senior Lecturer in Geography in the School of Science at UNSW Canberra.

He is Academic Co-Lead for Africa, with the Institute for Global Development (IGD) at UNSW Sydney: http://www.international.unsw.edu.au/institute_global_development.

Alec is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Humanities and the School of Tourism at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

For Future Research Students: Ph.D. scholarships ($35,000 per year) are available for high achieving students (with H1 /High Distinction in UG and/or Masters by Research) in Human Geography, Development Studies or Rural Sociology under my supervision. If you are interested contact me at a.thornton@unsw.edu.au 

Alec's research interests take a critical theory approach to issues in sustainable urban and rural development. He has a PhD in Development Studies (2007) from the University of Sussex, UK. He is currently involved in several research projects concerning sustainable urban and rural development. Specifically, these projects include exploring the role of ‘good urban governance’ (city-community partnerships) as the key for urban agriculture to gain credibility among policymakers, and make a positive impact on social cohesion and urban food policy. In rural development, my focus is capacity building for smallholders to strengthen the rural sector (food production and markets). In terms of international relevance in the field of Development Studies, Dr Thornton's research in urban and rural agriculture closely align with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) four-dimensions of food security, and also multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

He frequently collaborates with geographers, sociologists and economists from South Africa, Sierra Leone, Zambia, United Kingdom and New Zealand. He is Research Associate at the School of Tourism at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa). He was Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Earth Sciences (GAES) at the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa). Alec was vice president (2010-2017) of The African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP). Alec is co-editor of the Australasian Review of African Studies (ARAS), and editorial board member for Urban Forum (2009-present) and Applied Geography (2009-2015).


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 (2010-2015)

Editorial board: Urban Forum

Editorial board: Australasian Review of African Studies

 


My Teaching

ZPEM3208 Geographic Research Methods

ZPEM2209/ZPEM8209 Development Geography

ZPEM1202 Contemporary Global Change

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Location

Room 312 PEMS North (Bldg 22) School of Science, UNSW Canberra, PO Box 7916, Canberra BC ACT 2610, AUSTRALIA


Contact

+61 2 6268 8309
+61 2 6268 8017

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