A ‘learning system design’ for more effective agricultural research for development

Ison, R. L.; Bruce, C.; Carberry, P. S.; Maru, Y.; McMillan, L.; Pengelly, B. C; Sparrow, A.; Stirzaker, R. and Wallis, P. J. (2012). A ‘learning system design’ for more effective agricultural research for development. In: 10th European IFSA Symposium, 01-04 Jul 2012, Aarhus, Denmark.

URL: http://ifsa.boku.ac.at/cms/fileadmin/Proceeding201...


A ‘learning system’ design is described and critically examined as an approach to integrated agricultural research for development (R4D). This learning system sits within the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) component of an Australian research initiative to improve food security across sub-Saharan Africa. This program (Africa Food Security Initiative [AFSI]) is one component of Australia’s development assistance program in Africa and focuses on building capacity to increase agricultural productivity and food and nutritional security by boosting African science leadership, skills, networks and institutions. The ‘learning system’ design addresses the research question: Can a learning system be designed in AFSI such that reflexive and responsible research for development (R4D) practice is an emergent outcome? It also supports formal M&E by: (i) elaborating the multiple pathways for impact and the associated indicators of impact for the range of project interventions; (ii) further elucidating the qualitative and quantitative data to be collected and appropriate platforms and processes for joint data management, in order to provide content for AFSI reports and review processes as well as co-produced scientific publications; (iii) assistance to AFSI researchers in undertaking systemic action research in the context of their AFSI activities; and (iv) enabling the linking of evaluation data and theory in scientific papers which are contextualized for the current state of thinking in the field of R4D. Emergent outcomes to date that support design effectiveness and efficacy are reported; the wider applicability of the approach to the systemic design of appropriate innovation platforms in R4D is discussed.

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