Ataharul Chowdhury

Head shot of Ataharul Chowdhury
Associate Professor - Capacity Development & Extension
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 ext. 52251
Landscape Architecture, Room 121
Capacity Development

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Academic History

  • Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning, The University of the West Indies (2018)
  • PhD Sustainable Agricultural University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, (BOKU), Vienna, Austria (2011)
  • MSc Management of Agro-ecological Knowledge and Social Change (now Development and Rural Innovation), Wageningen University, The Netherlands (2007)
  • MSc Agricultural Extension Education, Bangladesh Agricultural University (2003)
  • BSc Agricultural Science, Bangladesh Agricultural University (2001)

Ataharul grew up on a family farm in Bangladesh, but he’s also had the opportunity to live, study and work in different countries. He developed a passionate interest in food, agriculture and the environment, and the roles these play in the well-being of communities. Ataharul recently joined the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, but he brings more than a decade of teaching and research experience at universities, non-profits and private foundations in the Caribbean, Canada, Austria, and South Asia. He has collaborated with many leading international partners to help build more sustainable agriculture and rural development in remote and resource-poor communities around the world.

Affiliations and Partnerships


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship (SSHRC), University of Guelph
  • Mitacs Elevate Strategic Post-Doctoral Fellowship
  • Best Article prize 2010 – Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, Taylors and Francis
  • North South Dialogue Scholarship (Now APPEAR, Austria)
  • Netherland Fellowship (Nuffic)

Research Impact

Ataharul’s research interest is in improving communities in Canada and internationally, particularly in remote and resource-poor settings where there may be insufficient capacity to solve societal, economic, political and environmental challenges. He has collaborated with international partners including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and Wageningen University in initiatives to build sustainable agriculture and rural development in remote and resource-poor communities around the world. Ataharul was a contributor to the ‘Capacity Development Framework for Agricultural Innovation Systems’ being implemented by the FAO, EU and Agrinatura in countries in Africa (Angola, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia), Asia (Bangladesh, Laos) and Central America (Guatemala, Honduras).

Current Research

Utilizing participatory media for community learning and development
Links exist between learning and building of livelihood assets in resource-poor farmer groups. Participatory media - an approach where participants play an active role in analyzing, developing and disseminating media content amd can be applied in an array of community mobilization, advocacy and education for sustainable agricultural and food systems development. This research aims to build on past examples of success in participatory, media-led agricultural innovations such as seed, pesticide and soil management improvements in Bangladesh. He is also interested in the ethical and institutional aspects of participatory media, as well as convergence of various media such as video, radio, and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) to support community learning and development.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT), social and collaborative media for rural and regional development
In the new media and communication landscape, conventional information flows are being reinvented in rural areas, especially among people dependent on agriculture. Many questions arise about the nature of these new information networks – who and how are the new relationships being constituted and what are the outcomes? Ataharul led two graduate projects in collaboration with Wageningen University, and a provincial research project examining the roles of social media in rural asset building in Ontario. Three other projects in which he is involved are examining the role of ICT in building community engaged scholarship in other parts of the world (e.g., The Caribbean). Related research topics include analysis of online communities, engagement of youth and disadvantaged groups, misinformation and current dynamics of mediated communication, and ICT change leadership.

Capacity development for agri-food system and rural development
In this research, Ataharul focuses on the complex, non-linear and dynamic nature of the livelihood systems of people who directly or indirectly depend on natural resources. Some system dynamics lead people deeper into poverty, while others guide people to improved incomes and wellbeing. He is interested to analyze those dynamics that help natural resource users sustain satisfactory lives and livelihoods.

Graduate Student Information

Ataharul believes that students represent the greatest hope for change in areas of the world challenged by multiple, complex issues. As important partners in research, he encourages students to draw conclusions based on their experiential learning, rather than simply on the insights formulated by others. He strives to be an educator, as opposed to an instructor, by facilitating students’ learner-centered education.

Featured Publications:

  • Kaushik, P., Chowdhury, A., Hambly Odame, H., & van Passen, A. 2018. Social media for enhancing stakeholders' innovation networks in Ontario, Canada. Journal of Agricultural & Food Information, 1-23. doi: 10.1080/10496505.2018.1430579
  • Chowdhury, A., Odame, H. H., Thompson, S., & Hauser, M. 2015. Enhancing farmers' capacity for botanical pesticide innovation through video-mediated learning in Bangladesh. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 13(4), 326-349. doi: 10.1080/14735903.2014.997461
  • Chowdhury, A. H., Hambly Odame, H., & Leeuwis, C. 2014. Transforming the roles of a public extension agency to strengthen innovation: Lessons from the National Agricultural Extension Project in Bangladesh. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, 20(1), 7-25. doi: 10.1080/1389224x.2013.803990
  • Chowdhury, A., & Hambly Odame, H. 2013. Social media for enhancing innovation in agri-food and rural development: Current dynamics in Ontario, Canada. Journal of Rural and Community Development, 8(2), 97-119.
  • Chowdhury, A. H., Van Mele, P., & Hauser, M. 2011. Contribution of farmer-to-farmer video to capital assets building: Evidence from Bangladesh. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 35(4), 408 - 435.
  • Chowdhury, A. H., Hambly Odame, H., & Hauser, M. 2010. With or without a script? Comparing two styles of participatory video on enhancing local seed innovation system in Bangladesh. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, 16(4), 355-371.


Area of Research

Capacity Development and Extension
Rural Studies