Pastoralism and Uncertainty: free online course launched

A new self-study online course has been created to offer students, practitioners and policy makers an introduction to thinking about different aspects of pastoralism. The course is based on a PhD programme at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), part of the PASTRES (Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience) project funded by the European Research Council.

Pastoralism and Uncertainty, which can be accessed for free on the course homepage, introduces key concepts, multiple cases and subjects for debate. It consists of 13 parts, each with a video lecture (30-40 minutes each), questions and suggested readings for participants who want to explore the subject further.

Course contents include:

  1. Debating pastoral development.
  2. Herding through uncertainties.
  3. What is uncertainty, and why does it matter?
  4. Uncertainty – thinking across fields.
  5. Non-equilibrium environments, rangeland management and climate change.
  6. Livestock production, feeding and disease.
  7. Land and property in pastoral areas.
  8. Resource ‘grabs’, investment and territory in pastoral areas.
  9. Pastoralism and mobility.
  10. Class dynamics, social difference and changing social relations in pastoral areas.
  11. Poverty, livelihood vulnerability and disasters in pastoral areas.
  12. ‘Real markets’, commodity chains and economic valuation in pastoral areas.
  13. Conflict and governance in pastoral frontiers.
About the topic

Pastoralism involves living with and from uncertainty. It makes use of highly variable environments, subject to climate change. Environments, animals and their products are very diverse across the world, and there are many different ways that pastoralists relate to land and the spaces around them, moving around or staying in place. Living in often resource-poor areas on the margins of state power, pastoralists frequently come into conflict with states and neighbours.

Pastoralism is changing, with increased pressure on land from investments in agriculture, energy or conservation, expanding towns and farms, and changing access to resources and services. Although new markets and opportunities are opening up, there are also new challenges, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lecturer information

Lecturers on the course include Ian Scoones (IDS), Michele Nori (European University Institute), Jeremy Lind (IDS), Antonello Franca (Italian National Research Council) and Alex Tasker (University College London).

Related resources

The unfolding coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is one prime example of an uncertainty. For lessons from pastoralists on how they live with these uncertainties, read our recent blog on the subject.

PASTRES also publishes regular blogs, with updates from researchers working around the world. For latest updates, a newsletter and social media, and more details about the project, visit the PASTRES website.

In 2020, the Institute of Development Studies is celebrating 50 years of research on pastoralism. Publications to mark this anniversary include a bibliography of IDS research on pastoralism (PDF), and a special issue of the IDS Bulletin.

Cover photo credit: PASTRES.