Vision and Mission
PLAAS does research, policy engagement, teaching and training about the dynamics of chronic poverty and structural inequality in Southern Africa, with a particular emphasis on the key role of restructuring and contesting land holding and agro-food systems in the subcontinent and beyond.
Our institute was founded in 1995 (initially called ‘Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies’) as a specialist unit in the School of Government, in the Economic and Management Sciences Faculty, at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Cape Town. The main purpose of the Programme was to undertake policy-oriented research to support the newly elected government in implementing its land reform policies.
Within a short time, it developed a strong international reputation for doing high quality in-depth research on matters related to these policies: the politics of human rights and access to land; the institutions of land governance, tenure and natural resource management; farm workers’ living and working conditions; and so on.
On 20 January 2009, it underwent a name change, officially becoming an Institute of the University, as the University took strides to redefine itself as a research-based institution, setting out an Institutional Operating Plan that emphasised the importance of socially relevant research, and identifying PLAAS as an important component of its strategy.