dr. KA (Katharine) Legun

dr. KA (Katharine) Legun

Universitair docent

Since March 2020, I’ve been an Assistant Professor in Strategic Communication at Wageningen University and Research.  Prior to that, I was Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. I do research on agriculture, science and technology, decision-making processes, and the relationship between (living) materials and economic or social change.  

I did my BA and MA at the University of British Columbia in Canada where I was lucky enough to land a job as a Research Assistant for the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (BC) and the Coastal Communities Project, which took me down a path exploring social dynamics in resource industries, and environmental sociology broadly. I did my PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA, graduating in 2013. My dissertation looked at the apple industry, and the emergence of “club apples” or “managed apple varieties.” These are apples that are owned, produced, and managed by a grower cooperative or, increasingly, private companies. The project aimed to use club apples as a lens to look at the ways that plants influence economic agency, and configure into processes of institutional change. My research continues to use science and technology studies approaches to look at plants, technologies, and capacities for democratic decision-making in food and farming. 

At the moment, I am focusing on three projects: 

  • MaaraTech: Decision Automation in Orchards and Vineyards. This is a large transdiciplinary project in New Zealand looking at the co-design of new AI robotics for agriculture (https://www.otago.ac.nz/centre-sustainability/research/foodagriculture/otago716888.html). The social science team is looking at co-design processes, and the expected effects of new robotic tech on agriculture 
  • Changes in hop production. This project has undertaken research in New Zealand, the UK, and Germany to look at the relational effects of the significant increase in aroma hops and aroma hop varieties being grown for craft beer
  • Enhancing democratic decision-making around new technologies in agriculture.


I have also just finished co-editing the Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Sociology with Julie Keller, Michael Bell, and Michael Carolan. (see vol 1 here and vol 2 here)  

I will be coordinating a special capita selecta course in periods 5 & 6 of 2021 on Journalism for Change. The course will discuss the aims of journalistic writing particularly related to science and democracy and develop writing skills through workshops with invited speakers. Interested students can contact me to find out more about the course and register by March 1, 2021. A tentative course outline is available here.