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SRC Master's students in the Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development programme spend the first year in the classroom learning about resilience, systems thinking, and sustainability science. The second year is spent testing out this new knoweldge, often in the real world doing fieldwork.
Second-year Master’s student Radhika Gupta spent her field work in the remote Himalayan villages of West Sikkim, India. Surrounded by forests and disconnected from roads, with a population of only 269 people, the villages respond very differently to globalization and development interventions.
Radhika’s study aimed to understand the perspectives of agriculture development at different scales of governance. Interviews with village members and government officials pointed at a huge shift from subsistence farming to monocultures of large cardamom, a spice.
She conducted a group activity with elderly village members to understand how the sources for food have changed considerably over the past 25 years. She asked two teams of three members to draw the ingredients needed for a basic meal, and to mark ingredients bought from the market. Both teams then “prepared” a meal from 25 years ago.
One of the main results was that in the past, they only bought salt from the market, while everything else was available in their farms or forests. Finally, events that brought changes in diets were discussed and marked on a timeline.
Gupta studied how agriculture develops in this remote villiage using interviews and group activities with government officals and villiage residents. Photo: R. Gupta