Who we are
Find out more about the scholars and academic staff that make up the Society and Environment Research Group.
Stefan's research interests are based in: human geography, particularly social and political geography; social environmental science; political ecology; architecture; urban planning; development; and welfare economics. Within these domains, his scholarship has mainly focused on the socio-technical, economic and political dynamics in the rise of energy poverty in developed and developing countries alike.
Ali is interested in the ways that we can understand, and influence, transitions towards sustainable water consumption (and related resource use) in the Global North and South. She has studied this problematic from the perspective of governance of water resources in the context of climate change.
Noel has long been interested in understanding how capitalism relates to land, water and air. Early in his career, he sought to 'green' Marxist political economy in ways that avoided the explanatory Scylla of a fixed, external 'nature' and the Charybdis of an all-powerful capitalism that bends nature to its will.
Federico's research incorporates the tools of different disciplines from the social sciences and humanities, such as urbanism, urban geography, political science and philosophy, into a single method of analysis whose target is the development of sustainable strategies of urbanisation. Empirically, his research looks at projects for new eco-cities with a focus on ideals, materialities, design and supply chains.
James' research explores the geographical aspects of urban sustainability, primarily contributing to the disciplines of Geography and Urban Studies. He has a long standing interest in the relationship between environmental science and urban thought, particularly in terms of how organizing concepts like for example resilience and systems thinking structure contemporary approaches to cities.
Saska's research is focused on intra-community relations and vulnerabilities as they relate to energy, social justice, local governance and natural resource management. She is the research coordinator of the Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy (CURE) which combines the work of 20 world-leading scholars focusing on the spatial and social dimensions of sustainability transitions.
Erik has a long-standing interest in understanding the political, economic, and environmental dynamics of capitalism and the social forces and practices that aim at its transformation towards a more genuinely humanising geography. His academic research interests include: political-ecology; hydro-social conflict; urban governance and urban movements; democracy and political power; and the politics of globalisation.
Sergio Tirado Herrero
Sergio's research is placed at the nexus between energy, climate and poverty, with societal welfare being a cornerstone of his understanding of social and environmental problems.
James J A Blair
James' doctoral dissertation centres on oil, environment and self-determination in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). He has conducted multiple phases of ethnographic and historical research in the Falklands and Argentina.
Every year we attract the best PhD students to contribute to our ongoing research. Read more about SERG PhD researchers below:
My research studies the various processes that influence how local communities in developing countries respond to climate-related impacts (such as droughts, floods, and sea level rise). Specifically, I am interested in the political, economic, and social effects that adaptation projects funded by aid agencies (including branches of the UN) have on local communities, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
Critical climate scholars have noted that adaptation can have unequal effects on the affected communities and thus can produce local “winners and losers”. However, externally-funded adaptation projects aiming to increase people’s readiness for climate impacts have often ignored or even reinforced this inequality.
At this stage of my research, I am exploring the potential for analysing the effects these projects may have on local communities by the use of the post-political critique. This approach presupposes a condition of post-political governance under which local adaptation projects enable democratic participation of stakeholders, while at the same time disavowing internal conflicts among them. Instead, they promote techno-managerial and expert-based solutions that limit space for dissensus.
One potential result of this post-political condition is that communities are deprived of their political power, which may actually work to reinforce intra-community inequalities]. Empirically, my work will explore how post-political governance manifests itself through selected adaptation projects in sub-Saharan Africa, and what strategies of repoliticisation could be theorised and implemented to ensure external adaptation interventions are more equitable in their outcomes.
My project is part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Power Networks, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The research will map vulnerability to fuel poverty within the UK, forecasting future demand for energy on this basis. Mapping will incorporate both qualitative and quantitative techniques and allow for consideration of the complex spatial, social and political dimensions associated with future scenarios of increased or decreased fuel poverty.
The research aims to inform the development of network infrastructure in the UK, enabling policy to adapt to the multiple uncertainties associated with future demand for energy.
Investigating how collaborative innovation research drives sustainable urban development, my PhD focuses on how digital technology facilitates a modal shift towards cycling at the individual and city level. It explores the potential for apps and sensors to make visible the invisible to address equality issues in urban governance. It will contribute to debates concerning the role of citizens in smart city design as well as emerging sustainable business concepts to co-create solutions for liveable and resilient cities.
Building upon a pilot project at The University of Manchester, conducted as part of the Manchester Cycling Lab, the research will follow an urban living lab approach that seeks to connect academic research with civic society, public and private sector needs through a mixture of qualitative, quantitative and action-led methods.
My research looks at the case of proposed shale gas development, or ‘fracking’ at the Barton Moss site in the City of Salford, which represents a new energy landscape in the city-region of Greater Manchester. It asks how people and stakeholders both relate and respond (or not) to the proposed development.
To build a theoretical framework, I have drawn on research into neoliberalisation, risk society and post-politics, using energy landscapes as a lens to draw out issues of place and citizenship.
Broadly drawing upon aspects of political geography, political ecology and material culture studies, particularly in relation to the work of Michel Foucault, my research historically traces and contemporarily critiques the complex links between nature, infrastructure and the state. My overarching argument is that through the government of nature, in both a physical and conceptual sense, the nature of government is performed, concretised and consolidated; the state materialises and is naturalised in the process of governing the relations between human subjects and their environment.
Using water governance in Singapore as a case study, I argue that the modern state was consolidated and subsequently decentralised through the material configuration of drainage infrastructure, reservoirs and distribution systems, where governmental programmes have been co-produced with the technological networks of water circulation.
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Large-scale seawater desalination has emerged as a significant alternative water source for metropolitan regions wishing to augment or supplement their freshwater supply. This energy-intense and expensive technology, although offering a drought and climate-proof water source option, represents a technical ‘fix’ that does not address the deeper contradictions of energy and water consumption.
My research offers critical insights on the water-energy nexus, an emerging body of literature that considers the interrelations, tensions and synergies between two sectors that have traditionally been considered as distinct. The contradictory and contested relations of the nexus are excavated through an empirical analysis of large-scale seawater desalination in San Diego and Baja California.