As team lead for ESR’s Social Sciences Group, Dr Jeff Foote works on some vexing issues facing New Zealand communities. From family violence, to ensuring communities can access safe drinking water, to food safety, to making social and health services accessible to vulnerable populations, Jeff and his team take a systems approach to address complex issues.
The group, which has expertise in the areas of public health, bicultural research, service innovation, evaluation, and systems thinking, works closely with other groups within ESR and the wider research community.
“Some issues, such as family violence, are too multifaceted to be solved by any one organisation or group with a ‘silver bullet’ as they are interconnected with other issues. Our team works across scientific disciplines and with a wide range of stakeholders and Māori to help clarify problem situations and then look for solutions.
“I have an applied research background which has been a good fit with this group. Individual team members spend much of their time with communities and stakeholders. I often say that the world is our laboratory. In essence, if we want to find solutions we need to understand an issue from as many angles as possible – and that means getting out and talking with people.
“We are a relatively small team, but the breadth of our combined backgrounds and our ability to tap into other resources as required means that we are able to conduct research across a wide range of issues.
“We are also extremely solutions focused, which means our findings can often be used by stakeholders as a roadmap on how to address the problem we have researched,” Jeff says.
Jeff earned his Bachelor of Technology in Industrial Operations Research, Master of Technology in Manufacturing & Industrial Technology, and PhD in Management Systems from Massey University. He went on to earn a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health at the University of Otago.