Thinking forward through the past: Linking science, social science and the humanities to inform the sustainable reduction of endemic disease in British livestock farming


  • Prof Abigail Woods

    University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Project summary

Converging environmental, health, welfare and political agendas make the future of food and farming one of today's most contested issues. Media representations are often unhelpfully polarised. Criticisms rest frequently on simplistic understandings coloured by false memories of an earlier 'golden age', while defensive farmers can struggle to articulate the challenges they face. In creating opportunities for more inclusive, reflective, non-judgemental exchanges, our enrichment work - based around creative practices that engage with livestock health and farmer/livestock relationships - will encourage farmers and diverse consumers to work through their differences, and develop mutual respect, empathy and understanding. Achievement of these objectives will be assessed through formative and summative evaluation.

Three creative professionals - an artist (of any media), photographer and filmmaker, who are experienced with socially engaged art practices - will reside with the project's researchers and the farming communities they are studying. Their outputs will be taken back to these communities, and to various consumers, in conjunction with other engagement activities that are built around project research and its historical resources. Participants will be invited to respond, reflect, remember, converse, comment and learn about each other's perspectives on livestock health, welfare and production, and to engage with farmer/livestock relations in the past, present and anticipated future. To promote interactions between farming and non-farming audiences, the filmmaker will capture early participants? reactions before adding their documentary to the exhibition. Researchers, farmers and practitioners will reflect on, and share their experiences of working together. Afterwards, the MERL will accession creative outputs.