Staff: Academic

Head Of Department

Other Academic Staff

Last Modified: Mon, 09 Jul 2018 10:38:12 SAST

Dr Harry Biggs

Tel: 082 9054664


Dr. Harry Biggs started his professional life as a veterinarian, concentrating for a few years on equine breeding, utility and especially racetrack medicine. He married and relocated, soon working as a (mainly field) parasitologist from the government veterinary laboratory in Windhoek. Because of an interest in epidemiology, he completed the Diploma in Datametrics, and quickly also acted as statistics/computer advisor to agricultural, ecological, marine, freshwater and veterinary scientists in a large government department covering these fields.  He rose to Deputy-Director, emphasising particularly epidemiology, and extension (particularly contact with farmers and the public). He automated the disease reporting system of state veterinarians and animal health officers effectively, a system which was robust and useful enough to serve as an evolving basis for some years after his departure. In a transitioning semi-independent Namibia he took part actively in several veterinary association and council matters.

Full details of CV

Last Modified: Thu, 06 Jun 2019 08:33:04 SAST

Dr Jessica Cockburn

Contact Details:

Phone: +27-046-603-8219

Jessica is a Lecturer in Environmental Science. She grew up a farm in a family passionate about conservation and social justice, and as such has always had an interest in understanding landscapes in an integrated way. She recently completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Environmental Learning Research Centre at Rhodes University, where she further developed the research in the nexus of Landscapes-Linkages-Learning which she started in her PhD. Being based in the Faculty of Education for two years allowed Jessica to deepen her work on the social aspects of social-ecological systems research. Jessica completed her PhD in the Department of Environmental Science in 2018. She was supervised by with Georgina Cundill, Sheona Shackleton and Mathieu Rouget and the title of her thesis was ‘Stewardship and collaboration in multifunctional landscapes: a transdisciplinary enquiry’. Before that Jessica worked as a practitioner-researcher in various projects in KwaZulu-Natal in a diversity of applied environmental research settings: catchment management, urban ecosystem management and land use planning.

In 2013 she graduated with an MSc in Zoology from North-West University (Potchefstroom). Her MSc research was an example of applied social-ecological research which sought to address the research-implementation gap by tracking and understanding the implementation of a sustainable pest management system in sugarcane. Jessica has an undergraduate BSc in Botany and Entomology, with Honours in Entomology. She has also learnt many important skills in the ‘University of Life’, having travelled and worked in Europe and in South Korea between her degrees.

Through her work on Landscapes, Linkages, and Learning Jessica has come to appreciate the value of a critical realist philosophy in underpinning and deepening inter- and transdisciplinary social-ecological research. She is curious about how people work together to address complex sustainability challenges in a variety of contexts and configuration: whether they are diverse stakeholders in rural landscapes, researchers working in partnership with policy-makers and practitioners, or researchers working together across disciplinary boundaries. She is interested in human-nature interactions as they play out in stewardship and sustainable livelihoods. She draws on learning theories and realist evaluation approaches to support her research on multistakeholder collaboration for sustainability.

Recent publications:

Cockburn, J., G. Cundill, G., Shackleton, S., Rouget, M., Zwinkels, M., Cornelius, S, Metcalfe, L. and Van den Broeck, D. 2019. Collaborative stewardship in multifunctional landscapes: toward relational, pluralistic approaches. Ecology and Society 24 (4):32. [online] URL:

Cockburn, J., Cundill, G., Shackleton, S., Rouget, M., Wright, D. R., Koopman, V., Cornelius, S. F. A., Zwinkels, M., McLeod, N., Van den Broeck, D., le Roux, J.-P., Cele, A., & Schroder, S. (2019). Relational hubs for collaborative landscape stewardship. Society & Natural Resources: (paper attached)

Wolff, M. G., J. J. Cockburn, C. De Wet, J. Carlos Bezerra, M. J. T. Weaver, A. Finca, A. De Vos, M. M. Ralekhetla, N. Libala, Q. B. Mkabile, O. Nelson Odume and C. G. Palmer. 2019. Exploring and expanding transdisciplinary research for sustainable and just natural resource management. Ecology and Society 24 (4):14. [online] URL:

Holden, P., Cockburn, J., Rosenberg, E. & Shackleton, S. (Under revision). Supporting and developing competencies for transdisciplinary sustainability research:  A PhD scholar perspective. In: Kremers, K.L., Liepins, A. S., & York, A. M. Developing Change Agents: Innovative Practices for Sustainability Leadership. (Book chapter). Available online:

Cockburn, J., Cundill, G., Shackleton, S., & Rouget, M. 2019. The meaning and practice of stewardship in South Africa. South African Journal of Science 115(5/6): Art. #5339.

Cockburn, J., Palmer, C., Biggs, H. and Rosenberg, E., 2018. Navigating Multiple Tensions for Engaged Praxis in a Complex Social-Ecological System. Land 7(4): 129.

Cockburn, J., Cundill, G., Shackleton, C., & Rouget, M. 2018. Towards place-based research to support social-ecological stewardship. Sustainability 10(5): 1434.

Cockburn, J., & G. Cundill, 2018. Ethics in Transdisciplinary Research: Reflections on the Implications of ‘Science with Society’, In: Macleod, C., Marx, J., Mnyaka, P., Treharne, G. (Eds.), Handbook of Ethics in Critical Research: Stories from the Field. Palgrave Macmillan, London, United Kingdom, pp. 81-97.

Cockburn, J., Koopman, V., Pereira, L & Van Niekerk, J. 2018. Institutional bricolage to address sustainability challenges in the South African sugarcane industry: a case study of the SUSFARMS® initiative in the Midlands area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In: Pereira, L.M., McElroy, C., Girard, A., & Littaye, A. Food, Energy, and Water Sustainability: Governance Strategies for Public and Private Sectors, Earthscan: Routledge, London, pp. 133-151.

Last Modified: Fri, 07 Feb 2020 15:38:48 SAST