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School of Environment, Education and Development

Environmental change

Enhancing our understanding of the relationship between human societies and the natural world is one of the ‘grand challenges' that faces us in the 21st century.

At SEED, our research seeks to understand changes in our environment via research that is at once historical, contemporary and forward looking. A significant proportion of this research aims to comprehend the multiple facets of climate change, spanning both mitigation (the reduction of greenhouse gases) and adaptation (responding to the impacts associated with a changing climate).

Adaptation and resilience


SEED is a leading centre for research on socio-technical resilience, both locally and at the international level. The Manchester Architecture Research Group (MARG) has driven this agenda forward, with research projects looking beyond design as an aesthetic or technical object, instead focusing on the complex processes and practices that run through the development, adaptation and use of built environments. An important expression of this work is the EcoCities project, which provided Manchester with its first blueprint for an integrated climate change adaptation strategy, and by doing so drew wider lessons about how best to address climate change in other urban environments.

Current insights emerge from earlier projects, in particular Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change in the Urban Environment (ASCCUE) and Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS) and continue to inform the School’s ongoing work on building capacity for urban climate change adaptation.

Similarly, current research at the Collaboratory for Urban Resilience and Energy (CURE) focuses on sustainable city-regions, and the need for strategic responses to climate change, drawing insights and expertise from spatial planning, geography, environmental science, policy analysis and systems studies.

Environmental change as a natural and social process

SEED research focuses on both the natural and social aspects of environmental change, and more explicitly on their interplay:

Environmental Processes Research Group (EPRG)

EPRG tackles some of the most challenging inter-disciplinary questions associated with contemporary environmental risk and response, and the associated roles of supporting and regulating ecosystem services. A hallmark is their close collaboration with research users.

Learn about our impact:

Quaternary Environments and Geoarchaeology Group (QEG)

QEG focuses on the impact of past global climate change, and the development of modelling strategies to predict the impact of global warming on the cryosphere.

Society and Environment Research Group (SERG)

SERG addresses the political and economic drivers of environmental change, its uneven socio-spatial consequences, and the way these consequences are negotiated by an array of actors.

Knowledge for Wildfires

The Knowledge for Wildfires resource provides an important conduit for engagement between academics and stakeholders, and emerges from continuing research on policy support for UK wildfire management and contingency planning. Learn about our impact:

Researching climate change in the global south

In addition to addressing pressing environmental concerns pertinent to regions, cities and localities in the global North, SEED research also addresses the impacts of climate change on the poor and marginalised in the global South.

Global Urban Futures

The Global Urban Futures group seeks to better understand urban transformation and the complex challenges facing cities in developing countries. 


Researchers at the Global Development Institute (GDI) and the Manchester Architecture Research Group (MARG) have assessed how climate change, and especially climate variability, has impacted on the living conditions and livelihoods of poor people in Bangladesh.

Climate change and Urban Vulnerability

Researchers from across SEED have been involved in the Climate change and Urban Vulnerability in Africa (CLUVA) partnership. This EU-funded project was designed to develop methods and knowledge to be applied to African cities in order to manage climate risks, reduce vulnerabilities and improve coping capacity and resilience towards climate change.

Technology and development

In conjunction with the Alliance Manchester Business School, the Centre for Development Informatics (CDI) researches the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in socio-economic development, including in mitigation, monitoring, adaptation and resilience strategies.