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|Durham University and its role in Malta's development planning during the 1950s through applied research
|Schembri, John A.
Chester, David K.
Duncan, Angus M.
Causon Deguara, Joanna
|University of Durham -- Research
Land use surveys -- Malta -- History
Land use mapping -- Malta
Human geography -- Malta -- History -- 20th century
|Schembri, J. A., Chester, D. K., Gauci, R., Speake, J., Duncan, A. M., & Deguara, J. C. (2020). Durham University and its role in Malta's development planning during the 1950s through applied research. Land Use Policy, 96, 104705.
|In the 1950s the University of Durham was involved in a number of separate externally-funded projects that were aimed at assessing Malta's potential for development after it became independent from the United Kingdom. Following a pilot study, a group led by W.B. Fisher of the Department of Geography together with a team from the University of Malta, obtained what at the time were substantial funds from the Colonial Office's Colonial Economic Research Committee (CERC). Concurrently K.C. Dunham, Head of the Department of Geology, successfully obtained support from British Petroleum to carry out a geological survey, while a soil survey was separately commissioned. As well as marking the first of what was to become an established tradition of applied development projects in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, the Durham Geography Department also used its growing profile of external funding to stimulate an expansion of both its teaching and its research, so as to become one of the largest departments in the United Kingdom. Reflecting the zeitgeist of the time, Fisher and his colleagues viewed applied research, not only as an academic exercise but also as a route to human betterment, and perceived the researchers' task as providing information and policy options upon which decisions makers may formulate policy. They eschewed any attempt to fully consider different development strategies. However, some younger researchers in their later outputs and doctoral theses adopted a more critical approach about the options for Malta's future. The principal issue raised by Durham team was a concern that post-independence Malta was facing a Malthusian trap in which the islands would not have a sufficiently productive resource base to support its growing population. Over the past six decades the trap has been avoided because of a growing economy, but today pressures of people on resources are once more acute and a case is made for a second land-use survey.
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