Many long-term staff at Noragric are familiar with Jennifer Joy West. She has a long history with the Department, having gained both her Master’s degree and PhD there.
“My ties to Noragric go quite far back. I first came to the department to start my Master’s degree after completing a Canadian-funded research internship at CICERO in 2003”, explains West, who originates in Canada. She was born and raised near Alberta in the Rocky Mountain foothills, just west of Calgary.
“Prior to that, while on a fieldtrip to Jæren as a Bachelor exchange student at the University of Bergen, an agricultural extension officer alerted me to the degree programmes at Noragric and gave me a pamphlet on the Management of Natural Resources and Sustainable Agriculture programme. The possibility to take a research-oriented degree focused on international agriculture and sustainability questions, and the interdisciplinary environment offered at Noragric got me excited. I applied to the programme, and the rest is history”.
Tell us more about your academic background
“I obtained both my Master’s and PhD degrees at Noragric, with a focus on seed-based humanitarian interventions in Kenya for my Master’s, and on agricultural investments targeting smallholder farmers in Tanzania for my PhD”.
“Both degrees involved conducting longer periods of fieldwork in East Africa, through which I gained valuable research and life experience and learned first-hand about practical development opportunities and challenges on the ground”.
“My experiences as a graduate student at Noragric have profoundly shaped how I approach research collaboration, education, and leadership in my own career, and I am particularly excited to have the opportunity to lead the Department after many years of fruitful engagement”.
“As a researcher at the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO) in Oslo since 2005, I have been involved in a number of climate adaptation research projects in Norway and internationally over the years, including recent work that investigates the potentials and limitations for transformation to a low emission society in Norwegian municipalities, and efforts to develop gender-responsive climate services to support food and nutritional security, health and climate adaptation in Africa and Europe”.
What ambitions do you have for Noragric?
“The Noragric Strategy (2019-2023) lays out a broad vision and key focus areas that are necessary to achieve a better, more just and sustainable society through academic work, research and education of a high international caliber. As Head of Department, I look forward to working with skilled colleagues to concretize and operationalise this vision to ensure that Noragric excels both internally and externally, as a warm, inclusive, collaborative and equitable workplace where staff and students are inspired and supported to achieve their highest potential”.
“I look forward to raising Noragric’s external profile and ensuring that the excellent interdisciplinary research, education and consultancy work conducted at the Department is highly visible and in demand”.
Lifting NMBU’s profile as the ‘Sustainability University’
“NMBU has a mandate to contribute to solving major global challenges and helping society to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The unique interdisciplinary environment at Noragric, which spans the fields of Global Environment and Development studies and International Relations, and the Department’s long history and focus on grounded and empirical research and education, makes it well-placed to lift the sustainability profile of NMBU by connecting science with society, contributing to important societal debates, and helping to solve key sustainable development challenges”.
Jennifer Joy West starts her position as Head of the Department of International Environment and Development Studies in September 2021.