University of Otago appoints first Professor of Sociology


The University of Otago has appointed leading rural sociologist Associate Professor Hugh Campbell to its new Chair in Sociology.

Associate Professor Campbell, who takes up the professorship in February, will also become the Head of the University’s newly established Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work.

He is currently the Director of the University’s Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CSAFE), which he helped to establish in 2000. He will step down from this position at the end of January but will maintain a part-time role in key CSAFE research projects.

Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says that he is delighted that a scholar of Associate Professor Campbell’s calibre has been appointed as the University of Otago’s first Professor of Sociology.

“The search for a suitable candidate to take up this important position attracted a global field of applicants. Associate Professor Campbell’s success reflects his strong international standing as a sociology researcher, as well as his leadership qualities,” Professor Skegg says.

Associate Professor Campbell was first appointed to Otago’s Department of Anthropology in 1994 and holds an MA from Otago and a PhD in Sociology from Australia’s Charles Sturt University.

His PhD thesis examined the impacts of the Fourth Labour Government’s policies on farms in the 1980s and he has since maintained a long-term research interest in the changing lives of farm households in New Zealand.

Over the past decade and a half, his research has mainly focused on the social dynamics involved in sustainable agriculture. He is one of the research leaders of the $13.5M Agricultural Research Group on Sustainability (ARGOS) programme, a joint venture between the Agribusiness Group, Lincoln University, and the University of Otago.

Associate Professor Campbell is also the leader or co-leader of University research projects worth a further $3M. His publication record includes editing two books, writing a number of book chapters and contributing articles to international journals such as Sociologia Ruralis, Rural Sociology, Agriculture and Human Values, and the International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food.

He has played a major role in the development of Sociology at the University, including chairing the Working Party in 2000 that established the current teaching programme. He was the Head of Programme from 2001 to 2005. In 2007, he was seconded as full-time Director of CSAFE after performing the role part-time for six years.

Associate Professor Campbell says he is greatly looking forward to taking up the Chair and leadership of the new Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work, which draws together programmes previously based in separate Departments.

“This is a major opportunity for the University of Otago to consolidate its reputation as a leader in social science scholarship in New Zealand. The Department has the potential to provide the size and solidity to launch some exciting new initiatives while creating synergies between previously unconnected parts of the University.

“I have enormously enjoyed my 10 years as CSAFE Director. This new Department provides the opportunity to build on that experience and extend research areas that are critical for New Zealand society.”