Leanne Townsend

Senior Research Scientist
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
T: +44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

Leanne is a Senior Social Scientist within James Hutton Institute SEGS group. Her expertise lies in the social and economic impacts of digital technologies and renewables in rural and international development settings. Leanne is currently leading research on Digitalisation in relation to rural communities and economies, with a focus on Small Farms. She leads the Hutton work on the EU Horizon 2020 "DESIRA" project ("Digitalisation: Economic and Social Impacts for Rural Areas") including leading Work Package 3 on Scenario Development workshops. She also leads a case study in the EU Horizon 2020 project "AgriLink", exploring the role of advisors and social networks in precision farming adoption in Scotland. Finally, she leads the EPSRC-funded project "Small Smart Farms" in collaboration with colleagues at Swansea University. Employing a "Responsible Research and Innovation" (RRI) framework, this research works closely with a Crofting Community on the West Coast of Scotland to co-produce digital prototype technologies of relevance to small farms. 

Leanne is interested in rural and international development; agricultural innovation; digital transformations; small farms and local food systems. She has worked with diverse societal and stakeholder groups with a focus on marginalisation and social exclusion including Gypsy-Traveller communities; remote rural communities, traditional craftspeople in Scotland; rural and peri-urban communities in Kenya and Nigeria.

Leanne is currently leading research on Rural Digitalisation across three projects:

AgriLink: https://www.agrilink2020.eu/

DESIRA: https://desira.d4science.org/

Small Smart Farms: https://not-equal.tech/portfolio/smart-small-farms/



Townsend, L. (2020). The professional wild food community and Covid-19: The use of online platforms in supporting people to access alternative food sources. Local Development & Society, 1-6.

Cowie, P., Townsend, L., & Salemink, K. (2020). Smart rural futures: Will rural areas be left behind in the 4th industrial revolution?. Journal of Rural Studies, 79, 169-176.

Townsend, L., Salemink, K., & Wallace, C. D. (2020). Gypsy–Traveller communities in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands: socially and digitally excluded?. Media, Culture & Society, 42(5), 637-653.

Wallace, C., & Townsend, L. (2020). Community development, well-being and technology: a Kenyan village. In Research Handbook on Community Development. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Philip, L. J., Townsend, L., Roberts, E., & Beel, D. (2015). The rural digital economy.

Roberts, E., Beel, D., Philip, L., & Townsend, L. (2017). Rural resilience in a digital society. Journal of Rural Studies, 54.

Wallace, C., Vincent, K., Luguzan, C., Townsend, L., & Beel, D. (2017). Information technology and social cohesion: A tale of two villages. Journal of Rural Studies, 54, 426-434.

Townsend, L., Wallace, C., Fairhurst, G., & Anderson, A. (2017). Broadband and the creative industries in rural Scotland. Journal of Rural Studies, 54, 451-458.

Anderson, A. R., Wallace, C., & Townsend, L. (2016). Great expectations or small country living? Enabling small rural creative businesses with ICT. Sociologia ruralis, 56(3), 450-468.

Townsend, L., Wallace, C., & Fairhurst, G. (2015). ‘Stuck out here’: The critical role of broadband for remote rural places. Scottish Geographical Journal, 131(3-4), 171-180.

Townsend, L., Wallace, C., Smart, A., & Norman, T. (2016). Building virtual bridges: How rural Micro?Enterprises develop social capital in online and Face?to?Face settings. Sociologia Ruralis, 56(1), 29-47.

Roberts, E., & Townsend, L. (2016). The contribution of the creative economy to the resilience of rural communities: exploring cultural and digital capital. Sociologia Ruralis, 56(2), 197-219.

Townsend, L., Sathiaseelan, A., Fairhurst, G., & Wallace, C. (2013). Enhanced broadband access as a solution to the social and economic problems of the rural digital divide. Local Economy, 28(6), 580-595.