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IBS Speaker Series: Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey
December 4, 2023 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Title: Exploring The Effects Of Social Capital And Migration On Agricultural Practices Among Farmers In Sri Lanka And Bangladesh (and a small sampling of other projects)
Abstract: Agriculture is a small but key economic sector globally, providing food security and livelihoods for millions, with upwards of half of household incomes in some regions. Farming is inherently reliant on environmental conditions and thus high risk. Despite this, development of the agricultural sector is widely viewed as one of the better ways for improving the lives of many of the world’s poor, facilitating upward social and economic mobility. Climate change, however, threatens farms and farmers, who will need to adapt. Social capitals, broadly conceived, can help farmers respond and adapt to changing conditions and have been widely explored in agricultural contexts across multiple disciplines. Relatively few of these studies, however, incorporate multiple measures or levels of social capital, and the range of outcome variables considered within smallholding agriculture settings is relatively narrow.
Using data from two household surveys and diverse statistical approaches, I explore how multiple measures of social capital (support, trust, cohesion, ties) are correlated with farmer knowledge and adoption of potentially adaptive on-farm practices. I also consider how social capital intersects with migration, another critically important livelihood strategy in agricultural settings. In doing so, I examine the significance of social ties to migrants on agricultural livelihoods. I find support for the importance of social capitals for farmers, but the conditions and contexts vary. For example, in a study of Sri Lankan paddy farmers, I find that multiple dimensions of social capital positively predict on-farm adaptation practices. In another study of Bangladeshi heads of household, results revealed that households that have sent a migrant are significantly less likely to leave agricultural livelihoods. These findings may be of interest for food and agriculture development programs, for both rural and urban planners (related to migration), and for researchers in fields such as sociology, anthropology, health, and social and environmental psychology, as well as for broad programs with a focus on sustainable development.
To close out the talk, I present a small sampling of other projects I’m currently engaged with as an IBS’er.
Bio: Jeremiah is an interdisciplinary environmental and social scientists working at the nexus of science, policy and natural resource management with particular reference to human and environmental system adaptation to stressors. Dr. Osborne-Gowey applies mixed methods to explore complex interactions between humans and the rest of the natural world drawing from the fields of natural resource management and conservation, sociology, communication, economics and public policy. Jeremiah’s current research work is situated in the United States, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh where he is working in rural agricultural communities (Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) and communities of people living with wildfire (United States) to explore how social and environmental stressors shape livelihoods, decision-making and adaptation to water scarcity and changing environmental conditions. Jeremiah previously worked for >15 years as an aquatic/landscape ecologist with Federal and State agencies, universities and private and non-profit consulting firms throughout the Western United States. Jeremiah enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with his partner and kids, friends and animals. Jeremiah’s favorite activities include camping, backpacking, fishing, hunting, forest foraging, fly tying, traveling, photography, reading, gardening, geocaching, and homebrewing/distilling.