When did you join the RAU and what brought you here?
I joined the RAU in June 2016. My brother came here as a student some years ago and I wanted to join a University that had strong roots in agriculture, farming and food production.
How did you get into Agricultural and Food Policy?
I was born and bought up on a farm and my under graduate degree is in politics and geography so it made sense to combine those two interests which is why I joined the NFU and spent 25 years in various lobbying and representative roles.
What made you go into teaching?
For a long time I’ve thought that there is insufficient emphasis placed on the importance of policy and policy making, particularly in agricultural policy and I wanted to find a way to encourage more young people to become interested in it as a way of making change happen – our decision to Brexit means that we will need more policy people in the future!
What do you enjoy about it?
I enjoy challenging students on their current thinking, engaging them in discussion and debate and also encouraging them to share their experiences with each other – it’s how we broaden our thinking and perspectives and see life through the lens of others.
What’s the most challenging aspect of teaching/learning about Agricultural and Food Policy?
It’s making the connections between policy and what practically happens on farm or in the food chain.
What would be your top three tips for anyone thinking of....
... starting a UG/PG course?
- Try to think about what you’re interested in because it makes it so much easier to study something that you’re at least keen to know more about!
- Don’t narrow yourself down
- Keep an open mind about new subject areas and don’t write them off until you’ve had a chance to consider whether you enjoy them or not – you never know you might like them!
... studying Agricultural and Food Policy?
- From a UK agricultural and food perspective this is a time of unprecedented change and policy has never been more important!
- Read lots whether that’s via the traditional media, social media or books, journals and newspapers – a grasp of current affairs is vital to understanding where agricultural and food sits in the overall policy landscape.
- Look at what some of the agricultural and food lobbying organisations (NFU, TFA, CLA, BRC, FDF) are saying and whether you agree or disagree.
How would you describe life at the RAU/Cirencester?
From my perspective as a relatively new lecturer it’s a rollercoaster once term begins and as the RAU is changing it’s a time of excitement for what the future holds.
What makes it distinctive/special?
I think the reputation of the RAU is taken for granted a little bit. You only have to listen to our international students, particularly from Africa to understand what high regard it’s held in.
What’s your favourite spot on campus and why?
I rather like the tree-lined drive up to the front of the building. It really gives a sense of expectation as you drive along it.