Professor Sheona Shackleton

Designation: Deputy Director: African Climate & Development Initiative
Expertise: Rural development, livelihoods and natural resource use and management


Sheona Shackleton joined the ACDI as Deputy Director in January 2018. She also holds an Honorary Professorship with the Department of Environmental Science at Rhodes University. Sheona has worked at the interface between rural development, livelihoods and natural resource use and management for the past 35 years. Her research and postgraduate supervision has covered a diversity of areas within this broad theme such as community conservation, rural livelihoods and vulnerability, ecosystem services and human well-being, forest product use and commercialisation, natural resource governance and climate change adaptation. Her current research focusses on livelihood and landscape (social-ecological) change, with a particular interest in climate change as a driver and how it interacts with other shocks and stressors to influence adaptation, transformation and future livelihood trajectories.  Sheona has been engaged in interdisciplinary, participatory and transdisciplinary research for most of her career after being part of the startup team for a University of the Witwatersrand interdisciplinary unit in the late 1980s (Wits Rural Facility).   Her interest in engaged scholarship and knowledge co-production arises from both a practical research and ethical perspective (where she has experiences of social learning approaches to knowledge co-production), but also an academic one in terms of how best to integrate knowledge co-production processes into our teaching and learning and to support such an approach in our postgraduate research.  Sheona and her project team were awarded the VC’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award for their social leaning work on climate change, HIV/AIDs and vulnerability in 2015. Sheona is on the board of the journals World Development and Land, is a member of ASSAF and has reviewed proposals for a wide range of organisations including NRF, VW Foundation, DFID, Belmont Foundation, SPACES and others. She has served on several national government and non-government committees in areas related to her expertise.  She has experience coordinating large projects and a well-established network of international partners and collaborators. She has published her work extensively both in academic books and journals, but also the more popular media, and has reviewed papers for some 30 different journal titles.



Tel: +27 (0)21 650 4581