- Agricultural systems
- System dynamics modelling
- Agent-based modelling
- Mental models
- Participatory simulation game design
- Human behavior and decision-making
Udita Sanga focuses on integrating social and ecological dynamics within agricultural systems and developing systems models to support informed policy making towards agricultural resilience in developing countries
Sanga has extensive experience working with communities and stakeholders in diverse contexts, particularly focusing on climate adaptation, food security, water management, and sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa (Mali, Nigeria) and South Asia (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam).
Such complex environmental problems fall within the intersection of social and ecological systems and require an integrative and interdisciplinary approach for scientific inquiry. However, issues of scale mismatch, integration of data types, and knowledge uncertainties render the synthesis of such social-ecological problems challenging.
Sanga’s research interest lies in addressing some of these challenges by using systems thinking and methodological plurality for modelling social-ecological systems including methodological tools such as participatory games, mental models, system dynamics, and agent-based modelling.
Sanga’s current work with Maja Schlueter under the MuSES project (Towards middle-range theories of the co-evolutionary dynamics of multi-level social-ecological systems - funded by the European Research Council), focuses on developing an agent-based model of cross-scalar interactions and processes within agricultural innovation systems; particularly juxtaposing exogenous donor-driven innovations with endogenous community-driven social innovations using Mali as a case study.
Sanga holds a dual Ph.D. degree in Community Sustainability and Environmental Science and Policy from Michigan State University, USA (2020). Her dissertation examined the past, present, and future trajectories of food security and socio-ecological resilience in Mali as a response to the Sahelian droughts of the 1960s.
Using a mixed methodology of historical process tracing, participatory role-playing game design, and system dynamics modeling, Sanga explored the influence of agricultural decision-making, institutional governance, socio-demographic changes, agricultural production, and climatological trends on food security in Mali.
Prior to her current engagement with SRC, Sanga worked with various national and international organizations such as the Center for Resilience Studies- WOTR- India; ICRISAT-Mali, CIMMYT-New Delhi, and Micro Insurance Academy- New Delhi.
In 2016, Udita was awarded a Graduate Pursuit fellow position at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), Maryland where she served as a Team Lead and co-Principal Investigator of an interdisciplinary, collaborative project “Agrarian Adaptation” where she collaborated with a research team of early-career scholars at Michigan State University, University of British Columbia, University of Vermont, University of São Paulo and Oxford University.
Sanga was also a part of the multi-institutional and multi-scale ASSAR project (2014-2018) within the CARIAA (Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia) programme, funded by IDRC and DFID.
The project combined interdisciplinary scientific research (at regional and thematic levels), capacity building, and stakeholder engagement to improve understanding of the barriers and enablers to effective climate adaptation. The ASSAR consortium included the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), India, International START Secretariat, USA, Oxfam, UK, and University of East Anglia (UEA), UK.
Awards and achievements
- Milton H. Steinmueller Fellowship in Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, MSU (2017)
- Council of Graduate Students (COGS) Leadership Award, MSU (2017)
- Graduate Pursuit Fellowship, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, MD (2016)
- ASSAR Small Opportunities Grant, START International, Washington DC (2016)
- Climate, Food, Energy and Water (CFEW) Fellowship, MSU (2016)
Publications by Sanga, Udita
Dynamic pathways of barriers and opportunities for food security and climate adaptation in Southern Mali
Journal / article | 2021
Barriers to food security and climate adaptation operate in complex and dynamic ways but are often perceived as static impediments to be overcome. In this study, we apply systems thinking for the assessment of barriers in agricultural decision-making for food security and climate adaptation. Using a mixed-method approach of participatory simulation game design and causal loop diagrams, we explore the dynamic pathways through ...
How do farmers adapt to agricultural risks in northern India? An agent-based exploration of alternate theories of decision-making
Journal / article | 2021
Agricultural decision-making processes occur in complex and dynamic environments and are highly contextual. Despite evidence to the contrary, utility maximization is often the implicit theoretical assumption underlying agricultural decision-making processes. This study undertakes an exploratory approach to test alternative theories of human decision-making on the process of agricultural adaptation of farmers in India by synth...