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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

Module: ESD1000: Energy, development and rural livelihood.

Module Leader: Dr Stephanie Hirmer

Background: Every day, thousands of people around the world are migrating from rural areas to cities in search of a better livelihood. Energy access and its integration with other rural sectors are crucial for realising the economic potential of villages and regions. It is a pivotal element for development in almost every aspect of community life: education, food, health, security, water, etc. and can contribute to farming productivity; non-agriculture income; rural ecology; and creation of eco-systems that interest youth in working from their villages. By creating employment and economic opportunities they can have positive transformative impacts on rural areas, have the power to stem migration to cities, and have the potential to diminish local poverty levels and have an impact on inequalities. In this module the role and complexity of off-grid energy access in low-resource settings in the Global South was explored.

Module aim and objective: The aim of the module on ‘energy, development and rural livelihood’ was to help students to critically evaluate energy service provision, and to develop an aptitude for corresponding sustainability considerations. This is particularly important for off-grid energy access projects in low-resource settings in the Global South—the main focus of this module—as there is a wider, more complex system at play where the interactions between social, political, institutional, environmental, and technical aspects have to be considered. For example, the module considers how societal considerations such as culture have an impact on the design of interventions, or how political interests impact on infrastructure delivery. The module provides students with an understanding of the entire system of energy developments—it considers the intertwined relationship of technology and societal and cultural factors for example, and looks at holistic solutions as the essence of rural development.

Course outline: The module is separated into seven lectures and is of an interactive nature requiring active participation from the students through breakout sessions and group work Further, the course utilised real life examples (primarily from Sub-Saharan Africa) to enable contextual learning.

Lecture 1: March 19th Friday 9-11 am – Introduction to energy access: Dr Stephanie Hirmer (module leader)

Lecture 2: March 19th Friday 3.30-6 pm – Energy and Gender Nexus: Dr Antonella Mazzone (OxU, Oxford Martin School)

Lecture 3: March 22nd Monday 9-11 am – Rural development: Dr Stephanie Hirmer (module leader)

Lecture 4: March 23rd Tuesday 9-11 am – Electrifying transport in the Global South: Dr Katherine Collet (OxU, EPG and Smith School)

Lecture 5: March 24th Wednesday 9-11 am – Inclusive design: Dr Stephanie Hirmer (module leader, with input from RuralSenses’ Yair Perry)

Lecture 6: March 24th Wednesday 3.30-6 pm – Biodiversity loss and food security: Sir Brian Heap and Dr Nazia Habib (University of Cambridge)

Lecture 7: March 26th Friday 3.30-6 pm – Grid reliability vs. energy access: Dr Hindolo George-Williams (De Montfort University)

For more information on this course, please contact Dr Stephanie Hirmer.



Friday, 19 March, 2021 - 09:00 to Friday, 26 March, 2021 - 18:00