Professor Doreen Atkinson is a rural development expert with 30 years’ experience in the fields of rural and regional development, small town development, agriculture, tourism, land reform, rural-urban dynamics, municipal governance and intergovernmental relations. Professor Atkinson holds a BA and BA Hons degree from Rhodes University, a Masters degree from the University of California (Berkeley), and a PhD degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Doreen serves as a Trustee of the Karoo Development Foundation, a non-profit Trust working for the benefit of the Karoo as a region. She is also a research associate with the University of the Free State, NMMU and the University of Limpopo. She lives and works in the small town of Philippolis, Southern Free State

Her  previous work/projects includes:

  • Compiling the socio-economic chapter of the Shale Gas Mining Strategic Environmental Assessment, led by CSIR, on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs
  • An assessment of the tourism prospects of the Karoo, published in the international Journal of Arid Environments.

Doreen focuses primarily on development related to small towns, particularly in arid areas such as the Karoo, Namaqualand and Kalahari. This enables her to conduct interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral studies, including large teams, on complex issues related to tourism, renewable energy, mining and other large investments in remote areas. She is currently focusing on the socio-economic impacts of the Square Kilometer Array telescope in the Northern Cape Karoo.