Rural communities expert joins Newcastle University

Professor Sally Shortall

Professor Sally Shortall

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Newcastle University has further strengthened its expertise in agriculture and the rural economy with the appointment of Professor Sally Shortall.

Professor Shortall has carried out a wealth of research on agriculture and food, rural development, governance and stakeholder engagement, both nationally and internationally, and takes up the key post of Duke of Northumberland Professor of Rural Economy at Newcastle University.

She has previously been commissioned to carry out research for the United Nations, the European parliament, and the OECD and is currently leading a research project on women in agriculture for the Scottish Government.

Among other research commitments, Professor Shortall is also involved in a programme with the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland investigating ‘rural proofing’ and how it could be achieved. This stems from the Rural Needs Act, which was introduced by the Northern Ireland Assembly earlier this year and requires all new policies to be assessed to identify any potential disadvantage to rural communities. This research is expected to be complete by the end of the year and will be of considerable interest to the rest of the UK.

Professor Shortall said: “It’s a great pleasure to join the team at Newcastle in the Centre for Rural Economy, which is held in high regard both in the UK and across the world.

“My aim will be to continue the good work being carried out – with its interdisciplinary philosophy and commitment to the participation of rural communities – but also, I hope, to bring some fresh perspectives.

“I grew up on a family farm in the Republic of Ireland, and still have family connections in farming. One of my research interests is how individual contributions within these family businesses help to ensure the economic and social viability of the agricultural industry in this country and globally.”

Professor Shortall comes to Newcastle University from Queen’s University Belfast, where she was Head of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work. She works with academics across Europe and beyond and is President of the European Society for Rural Sociology, the key professional Europe-wide body in rural studies and also the First Vice President of the International Rural Sociology Association.

Professor Rob Edwards, Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, said: “At Newcastle we are particularly fortunate to have the unique resource of the Centre for Rural Economy situated within our School, enabling us to bring both natural and social sciences to bear on research questions.

“Professor Shortall brings a further dimension to this resource with her experience and reputation and I look forward to working with her.”

Professor Shortall’s appointment comes during a significant year of celebration marking 125 years of agricultural research and teaching at Newcastle.

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