Andrew Skuse

Professor Andrew Skuse


School of Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Professor Andrew Skuse is Head of the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies and manages the Applied Communication Collaborative Research Unit (ACCRU). He holds an undergraduate degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies and a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from University College London. His professional work focuses on how the poor interact with information resources and how these resources affect areas such as livelihoods, health, education, peace-building and social equity. Skuse has consulted widely on the role of C4D and ICTs in the developing world for numerous international development agencies, including ADB, AusAID, DFID, EU, GTZ and WHO. Skuse previously worked as a Social Development Adviser for the UK Department for International Development. (DFID) where he was responsible for the area of communications for development. His publications span both applied and academic fields and he has worked in many countries, including: Afghanistan, China, Malawi, Nepal, Pakistan, Pacific Region, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Research Interests

My principal research contribution focuses on the roles that communication and access to information play in supporting processes of development, poverty reduction, empowerment, humanitarianism and social change. Much of this work has involved revealing how poor people use information communication technologies in developing country contexts, often in the face of acute emergencies. My research to date has made a number of specific contributions to this field that include:

  1. Communication and complex emergencies: my work on the role of communication and complex emergencies has helped to inform both academic and practitioner audiences. My research in Afghanistan on the role of radio drama as a tool of humanitarianism broke new ground in terms of providing one of the first analyses of how drama for development initiatives are both produced and consumed, as well as the social impact that they have. This work was further developed and broadened to include a focus on the wider role of the media, including the provision of inter-ethnic reporting and conflict mitigation in the widely disseminated UK Department for International Development (DFID) publication Working with the Media in Conflict and Other Emergencies (2000). Since, then I have published regularly on drama and its role in aspects of conflict mitigation and have undertaken critical analyses for the BBC World Service Trust on the Afghan media context. More recently (2012), I have undertaken a systematic review for AusAID that looked at the factors that contribute to successful communication interventions in fragile states. This work involved a partnership between InterMedia, ABC International Development and Joanna Briggs Institute and has been disseminated to the influential International Lessons Leaned community, which explores the interface between military and civil actors working in conflict-affected countries. The uptake of this work has drawn interest from Government departments, with the Australian Civil-Military Centre providing funding to examine the impact of social media and networking in recent conflicts/emergencies. This work has resulted in the publication of three papers, an extensive annotated bibliography, an issues paper on social media, social networking and complex emergencies, as well as a comprehensive resource guide for communication practitioners. These three publications can be viewed at:
  2. Entertainment-Education, mass media and development: my work on mainstream terrestrial ICTs and specifically on entertainment-education has been influential in developing both an ethnographic analysis on audience impact, while also analysing the intriguing politics of drama production. Within the mainstream literature on drama and soap opera studies, there is a dearth of data focusing on production, and the same is true for drama for development. The value and innovation in following the circuit of production, as well as of consumption, is that it provides insight into the meanings producers and dramatists invest in their outputs, including how and why specific messages are formed. This enables analysis of the ‘slippage’ of meaning that occurs between producers and consumers over various development issues. While focusing on the behaviour change dimensions of drama for development, my work also highlights how drama can peddle dominant (western) worldviews and promote public diplomacy. The Sage Publications volume Drama for Development (2011), for which I was lead editor and a significant contributor, represents a key output in this area and reflects a close partnership between the University of Adelaide, The Open University, SOAS and University of Amsterdam. This book was a major output of the ‘Tuning-in: Research Diasporas at the BBC World Service’ project of the Diasporas Migration and Identities Research Program, United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council. Details may be viewed at:
  3. ICTs, poverty and empowerment: my work on information and communication technologies, poverty and empowerment has helped to advance our understanding of contemporary poverty issues. This body of work examines how poor people integrate themselves into networks (either technological or social) and are able to make use of critical information flows that impact upon the sustainability of their livelihoods. My paper Information communication technologies, poverty and empowerment (2000) was one of the first analyses of poverty and ICTs by a major bilateral donor (DFID) and has been well cited (31), but has exerted more influence at an organisation level, with numerous other donors and development-focused organisations making reference to it, or offering it for download on their websites. This paper helped to inform sections of the UK Government White Paper on Development (2000) and is referenced in that White Paper as a key source. In addition to this significant impact, my work in South Africa has been influential in helping both academic and practitioner audiences understand how poor people access and use mobile telecommunications. This work emerged from collaboration with LSE, UCL and QUT and has yielded a number of well-cited, high quality, journal articles in A and A*-rated journals (according to the Excellence in Research for Australia [ERA] rankings) that reveal the importance of mobile telecommunications in maintaining social networks and mitigating aspects of poverty in a context in which the history of rural-urban labour migration runs deep. Subsequent to this, work on ARC Linkage projects with partners such as UNESCO, UNDP and Equal Access, has yielded influential analyses of poverty, ICTs and digital exclusion in South Asia that has been used up by a number of development organisations, as well as analysis of the complexity of information and communication networks at the local level. See:
  4. Media sector strengthening: My work in the field of media sector strengthening has supported initiatives such as the AusAID-funded ABC International Development Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) and the AusAID/USAID-funded MTV EXIT anti-human trafficking campaign. Such initiatives work in partnership with local media organisations, especially state media, to improve their practice and professionalism. Such improvements, especially around news reporting, supports better governance by increasing accountability and transparency. In this respect, my work has had a clear focus on media sector assessment and has informed discussion of sectoral benchmarking (for media freedoms and diversity), monitoring and evaluation processes, and gender mainstreaming. An example of my work around media strengthening for increased accountability work can be found
  5. Social and behavioural change: much the work that I have engaged in throughout my career has concerned aspects of social and behavioural change. Development is essentially a process of directed change and there has always been a concern within both its policy and practice to empower individuals and communities with information, with tools, with access to services, justice and so on. My work has helped to advance our understanding of how normative culture can constrain behaviour change at individual and community levels and block social change. Using a range of methodological tools, my work has revealed how ethnographic investments in formative and ongoing research can yield insights that help C4D practitioners better-understand how to target their key messages, i.e. around heath, conflict reduction and so on, at key risk groups. In addition to revealing an academic understanding of social and behavioural change, my work has informed communication for development practice in a very concrete way through my work in areas such as heath, media strengthening and human trafficking with organisations such as the ABC International Development, Philippines National TB Control Program, Government of Tonga, MTV EXIT and WHO. Most recently I have developed an extensive toolkit for UNICEF (New York) that enables UNICEF staff and other communication practitioners to rapidly develop communication strategies for use during emergencies. UNICEF is currently formatting the Communication for Humanitarian Action Toolkit for publication. My work with MTV on the End Trafficking and Exploitation Program (EXIT) yielded a number of outputs including a comprehensive Phase IV Project Document and review. See:
  6. Methodological tools and program evaluation: my work has advanced the development of a range of methodological tools that have supported the ability of C4D practitioners to collect and analyse data. My work on ARC Linkage grants concerned both academic and methodological dimensions, and especially how methods can give poor people an opportunity to participate, as well as to capture aspects of social change. Notably, my work has helped to extend initial work on the Ethnographic Action Research methodology through the addition of a much stronger focus on participatory methods and tools. This methodology provides a dedicated ICT-focused set of tools that help to inform program development and evaluation principally at the community level.  Details of some of this work can be found at:
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2002 Head of Department University of Adelaide
    1999 - 2002 Social Development Advisor UK Department for International Development
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    University College London United Kingdom PhD

Research Grants

  1. University of Adelaide Interdisciplinary Research Grant 2015 (Skuse co-investigator). Maximizing the potential of online behaviour change interventions: Determining the antecedents of user engagement. Collaboration between Medicine, Psychology, Social Sciences and Adelaide Business School. Research Team: C. Short, A. Skuse, P. Quester and M. Dry. Value A$20,000;
  2. Australian Civil-Military Centre 2013-14 (Skuse lead investigator). Communication and Complex Emergencies. Collaboration between ACMC and University of Adelaide. Research Team: A. Skuse, T. Brimacombe & R. Rodger. Value A$123,000;
  3. Australian Research Council Linkage 2011-13 (Skuse lead investigator). E-health communication strategy and design. Collaboration between University of Adelaide, the Lyell McEwin Hospital, and Health SA. Research Team: A. Skuse, V. Clifton, M. Wilmore, S. Humphreys & D. Bruton. Value A$ 300,000;
  4. AusAID Systematic Review 2011-2012 (Skuse lead investigator). Communication for Development Interventions in Fragile States: a Systematic Review. Collaboration between the University of Adelaide, ABC International Developement, InterMedia Europe and WanSmal Bag (Vanuatu). Research Team: A. Skuse, G. Power, D. Friguglietti, & M. Taurakoto. Value A$87,000;
  5. UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 2007-2010 (Skuse co-investigator). Tuning In: Diasporic Contact Zones at the BBC World Service. Collaboration between the University of Adelaide, Open University, School of Oriental and African Studies and University of Amsterdam. Research Team: M. Gillespie, A. Skuse, M. Srebreny, J. Toynbee, K. Woodward & G.  Bauman. Value UK£496,000
  6. Australian Research Council Linkage 2007-2010 (Skuse co-investigator). Assessing Communication for Social Change. Collaboration between Queensland University of Technology, University of Adelaide and Equal Access (Nepal). Research Team: J. Tacchi, A. Skuse & M. Wilmore.Value A$393,000;
  7. Australian Research Council Linkage 2005-2007 (Skuse co-investigator). Finding a Voice: Making Technological Change Socially Effective and Culturally Empowering. Collaboration between the University of Adelaide, Queensland University of Technology, UNESCO (New Delhi) and UNDP (Jakarta). Research Team: J. Tacchi, A. Skuse, S. Cunningham & H. Pillay. Value A$590,000;
  8. UK Department for International Development 2003-2005 (Skuse lead investigator). Social Sciences Research Grant. Information Society a comparative study of ICTs, poverty and development. Collaboration between University of Adelaide, Queensland University of Technology, University College London and London School of Economics. Research Team: A. Skuse, J. Tacchi, D. Miller & D. Slater.Value UK£250,000.

I currently teach the following undergraduate courses and more detail can be found by following the attached links: 

ANTH 2036 - Anthropology of Conflict and Crisis

The course addresses the issues of conflict and complex political and ecological emergencies from a comparative anthropological perspective. Case studies are drawn from countries such as Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Guatemala and Northern Ireland. This course introduces students to some of the methodological issues surrounding doing fieldwork in dangerous locations and addresses a number of core themes that include: food and famine; violence and evil; terror, fear and suffering; war and visual culture, media culture and spiritualism; and conflict, global governance and the global economy.

DEVT 2100 - Poverty and Social Development

Among the biggest challenges facing the global community today are the eradication of poverty and inequality, and the needs of social development. This course introduces students to the history of the concept of poverty, the culture of poverty, the causes of poverty and its effects. Intersections between poverty and health, human rights and education will be explored in a variety of international contexts. Policies designed to reduce poverty will be analysed at both the global or international level and from community perspectives. Case studies of poverty assessments and poverty reduction projects will be a major feature of course content. The course also introduces social development, with emphasis on understanding and planning for socially sensitive development. Global attention to social development, such as the World Bank's plan and the World Summit on social development will be explored.

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 Co-Supervisor Post-Disaster Recovery: Nepali Women's Roles in Resilience and Capacity-Building Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Natasha Jane Mackintosh
    2018 Principal Supervisor The Lived Experiences of Refugee Advocacy: an Anthropological Study of Support Work, Wellbeing and Resilience Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Alison Kim Reid
    2017 Principal Supervisor Theatre of the 4th Dimension: Live performance in a digital space Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Michael James Allen
    2017 Co-Supervisor Welfare regimes in fragile states in South Asia: A comparative study Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Alexia Jane Adhikari
    2016 Co-Supervisor Online Identity and offline reality: How the internet is shaping modern musical affiliation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Paul Henry Chambers
    2016 Co-Supervisor Working towards outer space : Visions of the future in present practices surrounding space technology + associated organisations Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Danielle Rhianna Lemieux
    2015 Principal Supervisor Afrikaner ethnic identity in the post-apartheid world -order Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Hanna Jagtenberg
    2014 Principal Supervisor Violence and Crisis in Athens, Greece Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Johnny Damien Karanicolas
    2012 Co-Supervisor Communication for Development in the Pacific: The Role of Gender Networks Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Tait Brimacombe
    2011 Principal Supervisor The Culture of Risk and Threat in the Metropolitan Fire Service Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Gail Yvonne Wright
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor 'Troubled Lives': Vulnerability, Livelihoods and Capabilities of Homeless Women Living in a Train Station in Dhaka, Bangladesh Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Shoshannah Kate Williams
    2011 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Human Agency, Power, and Discourse: Accomplishing Farm Work through Short Messaging Service (SMS) in the Philippines Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ronan Zagado
    2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Cosplay in Australia: (Re)creation and Creativity Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Claire Langsford
    2011 - 2016 Principal Supervisor A Recipe for Identity: Food and Culture in Oaxaca, Mexico. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Emma Thrussell
    2007 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Yuba: Making Modern Youth, Making New Nepal Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Natalie Handley
    2005 - 2009 Principal Supervisor "We Will Do it Our Own Ways": A Perspective of Southern Sudanese Refugees Resettlement Experiences in Australian Society Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr James Lino Lejukole
    2005 - 2018 Co-Supervisor 'There's Always Bits of me in the Art'
    An Exploration of the Artist as Cultural and Creative Worker, Social Facilitator and Meaning Maker
    Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Sandra Howe-Piening
    2004 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Park, Hill Migration and Changes in Household Livelihood Systems of Rana Tharus in Far-Western Nepal Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Lai Ming Lam
    2003 - 2008 Co-Supervisor Coca Communications: Tales from the Bolivian Coca Field Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Nadia Butler
    2002 - 2008 Co-Supervisor Negotiating Existence: Asylum Seekers in East Anglia, UK Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Sophia Rainbird
  • Position: Professor
  • Phone: 83134285
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Napier, floor 1
  • Room: 1 28
  • Org Unit: Anthropology and Development Studies

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