Matthew Harsh

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Concordia University
Harsh, Matthew

Matthew Harsh is an Assistant Professor in the Centre for Engineering in Society at Concordia University in Montreal.  He holds a BSc in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University.  As a Marshall Scholar, he earned an MSc and PhD in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Edinburgh. 

Much of his research is about how new and emerging technologies can improve livelihoods in Africa.  His current research topics include: civil society involvement in policy making for genetically-modified crops in Kenya; equity implications of nanotechnology applications for water, energy and agri-food in South Africa; engineering education and social entrepreneurship in developing countries; and the affects of political unrest on research and education in Kenya. 

He is Senior Producer of ‘Brother Time’, a documentary about political unrest after the 2007 Kenyan election.  His work can be found in the Journal of International Development, Science and Public Policy, and Development and Change.

Thu July 11 | 2:00 - 4:00 | Parallel Session
ABSTRACT: Crop Biotechnology and Civil Society in Africa: Surveying Systems of Innovation for Development

Given growing food insecurity, countries in sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly using advanced biotechnologies and genetic modification to develop new crops.  Innovation surrounding new and emerging biotechnologies is complicated not only because of technical capacities, but also because of the diversity of organizations and institutions involved with different priorities and strategies.  Using a systems of innovation approach, this presentation analyzes several agricultural biotechnology projects in Kenya.  It demonstrates that while these projects have facilitated new connections between organizations and new knowledge pathways critical to innovation, the projects result in innovation for its own sake – valuing the process of innovation over the intended benefits, in this case improved livelihoods of farmers.  Researchers, companies and civil society organizations need to partner in new ways in order to better incorporate the needs and values of farmers into biotechnology innovation.