The Political Ecology research group investigates the ways in which resource scarcities are created and contested, particularly in contexts of unequal access, poverty and social exclusion.
Within the framework of climate change and environmental, food and energy crises, the emergence of new hubs of global capital, and demographic transitions, the group pays particular attention to how agrarian, food and environmental policies shape the political economy of rural areas and their social policies, population and gender dynamics.
This translates to the group’s interrelated concerns in:
- land, water, food, energy, biodiversity and extractive industries; processes of generational transition, in relation to children and youth;
- changing forms of poverty, vulnerability and exclusion (amongst others from a gender perspective) in the context of population transitions such as migration and urbanization; and
- recent initiatives around popular alternatives such as food sovereignty and agro-ecology.
Interdisciplinary, critical and policy-relevant
The group is interdisciplinary, critical and policy-relevant: it builds on insights from economics, sociology, politics, anthropology and geography to construct a critical political economy approach to study the relationship between resources, environment and population dynamics, and how these fit into processes of and policies for socioeconomic development and structural transformation.
Research Quality Assessment and Validation
In the recent Research Quality Assessment (April, 2012), the International Peer Review Committee (IPRC) stated in its report 'although the group pursues research along two separate lines which are not necessarily linked to each other in every project, there is a common epistemological and methodological foundation that holds it together'. The overall assessment of the research in the RQA was 'clearly very good and at times excellent':
'This group produces research that is clearly very good and at times excellent. The contributions that members make are recognized both in academic and activist circles. The group has a relevance to society and issues of justice and equity that is very pronounced. Its members work well together primarily because they adhere to a common heterodox position which gives them a niche in the development research community that is acknowledged by peers. Its work is definitely internationally competitive and some of it may be described as advancing the research frontier. The overall score for the group is 4.5.'
 The RQA was done according to the Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP), 2009-2015, established by the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in which a scale of 1-5 is used to evaluate four criteria: Quality, Productivity, Societal Relevance, Vitality and Feasibility of the Research Group/Program. The PE research group scored 4; 4.5; 4.5; 4.5 on these criteria, with an overall 4.5 (between very good and excellent).