Professor Chides Academics for Metro-centric Research

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BRANDON, MB – A visiting professor at Brandon University (BU) says academia has developed a “metropolitan bias”, fueled in large part by the reluctance of researchers and theorists to study rural life.

Dr. J.J. (Hans) Bakker, Stanley Knowles Distinguished Visiting Scholar (web)Dr. J.J (Hans) Bakker taught rural sociology at the University of Guelph since 1980. He is the current Stanley Knowles Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy at Brandon University. Last month, he presented a public lecture entitled Do You Mean Sociologists Study Rural Life?

“Most of mankind’s existence has been rural-based,” says Dr. Bakker, who has conducted research in India, Indonesia, Canada, the US and the Netherlands. “We are dependent on rural areas for food and natural resources, yet there’s a tendency for economists, political scientists, and the like – the social scientists – to view everything through an urban lens. We can’t understand human societies if we ignore thousands of years of rural history and our own very recent largely rural past in Canada.”

An active researcher and dynamic public speaker, Dr. Bakker wrote Toward A Just Civilization in 1993, and was editor for The World Food Crisis, Sustainability and International Rural Development, and Rural Sociologists at Work. Currently, he is collaborating with BU’s Rural Development Institute on a book to be published in 2015 exploring the social causes and effects of various political and economic conditions, including the relationship between religion and economic decisions.

frosty barn (web)BU Acting Vice-President (Academic and Provost), Dr. Heather Duncan, says, “It has been an honour to host such a distinguished and engaged internationally acclaimed scholar at BU. As Distinguished Visiting Professor, Dr. Bakker is adding to the educational experience of our students, the cumulative knowledge of faculty, and the University’s engagement with the broader community. In his own research, Dr. Bakker is interested in following the lives of farm families who have attempted to remain somewhat independent of current market forces, a subject which strongly resonates in this region.”

The Stanley Knowles Distinguished Visiting is awarded each year to a scholar who has achieved an international reputation for excellence in research. Previous recipients include jazz legend Bob Brookmeyer, palliative care expert Dr. Norma Wiley and celebrated Canadian writer Tomson Highway.

Brandon University, founded in 1899, promotes excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship; educating students so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders.



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