Interdisciplinary Research Award goes to innovative SSRP project on sustainable agriculture & podcasting in Syria
Posted on behalf of: Sussex Sustainability Research Programme
Last updated: Thursday, 28 April 2022
A project focussing on providing knowledge transfer from Syrian agricultural experts living in Turkey and Syria and new media to sustain farmers in northwest Syria has won the Interdisciplinary Research Award 2021, granted by Emerald Publishing. The project is led by principal investigator Dr Mirela Barbu (University of Sussex Business School) together with co-investigators Prof Martin Spinelli (School of Media, Arts and Humanities) and Dr Shaher Abdullateef (Syrian Academic Expertise, Turkey). The team set up a podcast series ‘Agricultural Voices Syria’ (AVS), which has been successful in reaching Syrian farmers with sustainability messages. The judges praised the Syrian Farmers’ Podcast as “a well-described application of an exciting project” which provided “a very clear explanation as to how an interdisciplinary collaboration was necessary to address the research aims and how it shaped the outputs.”
Initial seed-funding from the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) granted in January 2021 helped to kick-start the project and to promote sustainable agri-food value chains in Syria through the innovative method of podcasting. As Prof Spinelli, Professor in Media and Cultural Studies, explains: “the innovation in ‘Agricultural Voices Syria’ is really the fact that it's quite a bold, ground-breaking experiment in conflict zone communications. So often we find in conflict zones the traditional media – radio and TV stations – are the first things that are targeted by military movements and with attacks. However, the ubiquity of the smartphone, even in the developing world, and the relatively good mobile phone coverage, in places like Syria means that podcasting is a real opportunity to reinvent communications in these kinds of situations.”
Communication platforms are essential in enabling links and cooperation between researchers and agricultural practitioners in Syria, in exile and abroad with the aim of actively promoting modern and sustainable agriculture in conflict and post-conflict zones. Key partnerships have been formed with the Council for At Risk Academics (Cara) Syria Programme and the Syrian Academic Expertise (SAE) for Agriculture and Food Security. Cara’s institutional aim is to support academics at risk. SAE’s vision is that Syrian food and agriculture should become an “engine for peace” in the process of reconstruction.
The Real Impact Award also recognises the efforts of the team in creating a blueprint for people addressing food security as well as humanitarian issues in conflict and post-conflict zones around the globe.
A follow-on project, also led by Dr Barbu, Prof Spinelli and Dr Abdullateef, has now been funded by SSRP which is designed to address Syrian farmers’ demand by creating a series of short videos accompanying the podcast series. The videos will showcase sustainable agricultural techniques and sustainability-oriented best practice implemented in northwest Syria.
Further information about the project on ‘Promoting sustainable agri-food value chains in Syria’, funded by the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP), can be found on the SSRP website. For more detailed information about the project and latest updates, visit the Agricultural Voices Syria website.