In response to the crisis of refugees arriving in Europe over the summer of 2015, the Welsh Government held an emergency summit and reiterated its commitment that Wales should play a leading role as a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’. This is an interesting moment given that Wales doesn’t have direct responsibility for UK borders. What might it mean, in practice and in theory, for Wales to declare itself a ‘nation of sanctuary’? What are the theoretical and political imaginaries of sanctuary, national identity and citizenship at work in this context? What are their historical precedents? And how do they relate to political responses to the crisis across the UK and Europe more generally? This project will examine the political geographies of refugees, asylum seekers and citizenship in Wales, paying attention to Swansea and Cardiff as two declared ‘Cities of Sanctuary’ as well as other emerging groups across Wales that are committed to grassroots initiatives to build a culture of hospitality and welcome to refugees. The project will ask: what difference does an urban, regional or national imaginary of community make to the commitment to hospitality? What difference do different forms of welcome make?
This research will attempt to use the flow and the form of the River Severn as a thread with which to weave a particular emotional geography of the river, its banks and proximate settlements. This will be exercised through walking the Severn from source to mouth and exploring the forming of relations that take-place amongst the affective atmosphere of the river and its environs. It will be a narration of the convergence between air; land; water; embodied experience. In order to express the findings a range of arts and techniques will be used to portray the various affects; histories; futures and how they fold into, and are spun out from the here-and-now, and in so doing it is hoped that stronger links will be forged between geography and performance studies.
In simple terms the idea behind Personal Carbon Allowances is that each person has an allowance of carbon dioxide: when they purchase fuel for use in their homes or cars (or however they wish) the remaining allowance decreases. If and when the allowance has been fully consumed additional allowances would have to be purchased with further fuel purchases increasing the effective cost of the fuel. Conversely, surplus allowances could be sold for real money. As fuel usage generally rises with incomes it is not only a progressive policy but one that could potentially cause a step-change in attitudes towards fossil fuel use with commensurate benefits to the environment. The UK government commissioned a series of reports on Personal Carbon Allowances in 2006 but abandoned the policy in 2008 on cost and social acceptability grounds calling it ‘an idea ahead of its time’.
My work is initially focused on investigating and potentially eliminating the particular technocratic problems identified (cost; cost/benefit analysis; impact on those in poverty). It will then progress to examine social acceptability issues, utilising other scholars work in behaviour change and consumer psychology to plot a pathway forwards towards implementation. I will also be investigating whether there is scope for a ‘Wales-only’ solution.
Heritage sites worldwide are increasingly adopting digital technologies such as 3D visualisations, mobile phone apps and interactive games to enrich visitor experiences and engage with wider audiences. The aim of this project lies in exploring the potential impact of these technologies to enhance public engagement at a number of Welsh archaeological heritage sites.
I am particularly interested in issues of community engagement, Welsh identity, landscape archaeology, heritage preservation, and the utilisation of technologies that allow two-way communication between professionals and the public (e.g. through the uploading of photographs, videos, stories or memories of archaeological heritage sites that are important to individuals and/or local communities but may be overlooked by heritage professionals). In this way the research aims to investigate the multifaceted nature of digital technologies in both enriching public engagement with Welsh heritage sites, providing potential new sources of research information, and in promoting sustainable protection of our finite heritage resource through increased awareness and ownership.
My research explores the co-constitution of energy and equity within our energy systems; with a particular concern for the role that community energy models play in contributing towards the (re)negotiation of social justice within energy systems broadly conceived. Large-scale, centralised models of energy systems, ubiquitous across the industrialised world, provide energy at an unprecedented scale in real time. More recently, however, research around the emergent theme of energy justice has unveiled that despite the outward appearance of an energy system that delivers safe, clean and affordable energy for all, access to energy is in fact highly contingent and fragmented whilst its associated benefits are unevenly distributed across space and time. With the increasing presence of communities playing an active part in the negotiation of their own energy futures, my research examines the role of community energy as a vehicle for achieving social justice objectives – particularly in the context of fuel poverty in Wales – and for mapping and examining local perceptions of community benefit as a tool for exploring the diversity of ways in which community energy contributes towards the mediation of local and social objectives beyond the environmental.
The study works directly with Welsh Government as an active partner and co-funder; with an explicit focus on the Ynni’r Fro community energy programme and participatory engagement with a range of communities from across Wales.
Focusing on cities, this project seeks to elucidate the interrelatedness of space, place-making, emotional experiences and emotion-articulations in interactions of different types of ‘bodies’. To narrow this broad scope, particular attention will be paid to emotional aspects of public interventions at night-time. I am interested to see how people navigate the city and to what extent their movement-patterns are reflected in or influenced by their emotional attitudes attached to certain locales. Self-perceptions, how people are externally framed, and collective as well as individual memories presumably affect how one uses cityscapes, which necessitates ethnographic methods to unearth narratives of emotional landscapes and meanings attached to a city’s ‘places’. In the context of interventions, the questions of emotionality of experience and self-expression will have to be asked for those intervening, those ‘receiving’ interventions at night and those who may have opinions about night-time interventions that based on non-experientially obtained ‘knowledge’. When booming digital and social media enable self-representation, opinion and information-distribution at a near-omniscient scale, it becomes easier to develop emotional atmospheres or form a picture of ‘places’ that rests on other people’s experiences. Also, the virtual realm may offer a different kind of platform to express emotional attitudes that remain obscure in real-life face-to-face interventions – for all involved. It will be interesting to follow digital footprints of nightly city-dwellers to investigate their (emotional) understandings of cityscapes. Hopefully, knowledge about mobility-patterns and emplaced sentiments, related to self-identification, stereotypes etc., helps improve communication between groups involved in interventions and establish a more positive emotional cityscape.
My research aims to evaluate and analyze the impacts of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, set within the context of increasing homelessness in the whole of the UK, including Wales. The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 aims to tackle homelessness through an increasing emphasis on prevention. This can be defined as different interventions and support structures for people in order to avoid them becoming homeless in the first place. I will be exploring how the policy changes have impacted key indicators such as health outcomes for different groups of people who have become homeless.
This project will be utilizing linked data, obtained through the Administrative Data Research Network. Use of this methodology will allow for original insights into the impact of housing interventions on key areas of people’s lives. Looking at linked data has the potential to create new knowledge about the impact of homelessness on people, overcoming some of the methodological issues which can affect studies into homelessness.
My research will be working within the paradigm of the right to housing, understood as a core human right. As a result, my research will also focus on the extent to which the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 can be seen as a part of the right to housing. I intend to explore whether increasing knowledge of housing rights can increase their efficacy and, whether the change in legislation has seen a resultant change in how housing rights are perceived by both policy makers and rights holders.
Food insecurity is the political issue of our time, and in the UK, its prevailing symbol is the food bank. With the significant rise in the demand for food banks across the UK in recent years, academic interest has turned to this phenomenon to try to understand these spaces and the experiences of those accessing such services. While the emotional toll of using a food bank has been explored (Hilje van der Horst et al., 2014; Purdam et al., 2016; Salonen, 2016), current studies have focused on the space of the food bank, rather than the lifeworlds of the individuals who access them. Consequently, the ways in which these emergency food aid provisions factor into the everyday lives of people living on a low income has not been contextualised. In response to this gap, this project will investigate the relationship people have with food when they live on a low income, specifically when they have either accessed, or considered accessing, a food bank. I ask – what role does the food bank hold for people experiencing food insecurity? What other means of support do people access outside of the food bank? What tactics do these individuals employ to feed their families and how is agency exercised? How do people negotiate using emergency food services alongside alternative support networks? In accessing emergency food aid services are people able to eat the food they like and/or are culturally significant to them?
Carrying out a multi-site ethnography within inner city Bristol, I will draw on creative methods of interviewing, using cooking to build an in-depth and emic account of individuals’ experiences. This project aims to manifest in a series of narratives, exploring everyday resistance to the dominant narrative of ‘scroungers’ and ‘shirkers’.
This research looks at the newly completed Wales Coast Path, a continuous path along the whole Welsh coastline. This is a world first, as Wales is now the only country in the world with a continuous path around its coast.
The project will look at the physical act of walking and how being able to walk freely along the whole national coastline creates a sense of identity, connection (to Welsh nationality and the Welsh language), community, sociability, pleasure, consumption and leisure. It will address the different uses of the path and how different people engage with the materiality of the path, as well as how its affordances enable (or in some cases obstruct) people to walk along it.
I am particularly interested in issues of mobility and movement and how walking unhindered along a continuous coast path could connect people to Wales, facilitating a feeling of belonging to the land and to the Welsh nation. I am also interested in discovering if walking along the same route/sharing the same space establishes a relationship and unites all those who walk the Wales Coast Path. Issues of mobility also draw attention to issues of constraints; that is, not everyone will have an equal relationship with the path such as the elderly, minority groups or the disabled. It is important to acknowledge that there are different physical, social and political affordances for movement which determine mobility for different people.
Rooted in global pollinator decline and challenges to food security and biodiversity, my thesis examines the traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) of beekeepers, and how this can be better utilised to support environmental sustainability. Preliminary research carried out during my MSc found that beekeepers hold very high levels of knowledge of pollinator health, as well as wider agricultural and environmental conditions. This knowledge was frequently ahead of mainstream understandings of such conditions, and reflected beekeepers’ long-term, intimate working knowledge of bees and the wider environment. Recent years have seen the rise of a range of policy initiatives to address pollinator decline; many discuss the need for a participatory approach to policy formation, and the importance of engaging with beekeepers. Wider work in the social sciences has highlighted potential challenges to such engagement, due to differing epistemologies, value systems, and the prioritisation of scientific research over other forms of understanding. The role of Citizen Science in gathering information on environmental change, and monitoring our ecosystems, is increasingly important. My research explores the environmental benefits of deeper engagement with beekeepers, as their long-term, intimate engagement with bees and their surrounding ecosystem develops unique, rich knowledge of the environment.
The focus of my PhD research is on evaluating HAPPEN: a network combining multidisciplinary expertise through a unified system of research, education and health specialists. The network allows child health information (such as nutrition, physical activity, sleep, wellbeing, concentration in class) to be used to link to routinely collected education attainment data in the SAIL (Secure Anonymised Information Linkage) databank.
- To develop and evaluate HAPPEN: a collaboration of education, health and research professionals who will work off a shared online resource facilitating knowledge exchange
- To examine whether children aged 9-11 attending schools in the network area show improvement in attainment and attendance compared to those outside the network area
- To examine early predictors of children at low education attainment through the use of child collected and routine data.
Arctic gas reserves will become more economically attractive as a source of energy as currently available resources are depleted. Thus political and economic cooperation and joint infrastructure networks must be established to ensure the energy security of Europe. The unique physical environment of the Arctic will be examined against its complex geopolitical background in order to demonstrate why energy policy in the Arctic and in Europe should remain de-securitised and how this could be achieved through international cooperation.
The project brings together international relations theory (Copenhagen and Welsh School of Thought) with current approaches in political geography. Methodology entails qualitative research: interviews with officials, archival and discourse analysis, and international policy analysis.
Geography, Energy and International Relations are combined under the Arctic umbrella. As ESRC quotes, “…we need a better understanding of geo-politics, regulation and energy security as well as developing further insights at individual, household and organisational levels of patterns of consumption and how best to motivate behaviour change”.
The research aims at investigating how community food growing in Wales contributes to the food sustainability of the communities, what role it plays in creating awareness for more sustainable way of living and reconnecting people to the food chain, and whether there is a potential to make it a widespread practice playing an important role in the urban food planning.
The Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme is, in the realm of political symbols, hugely important in signifying and validating Wales’ engagement globally. It is within this context that the research aims to investigate the impact of development aid as a two way exchange between linked communities in Wales and Africa.
This research explores how rural Wales is being progressively disadvantaged by improved broadband provision and greater uptake elsewhere. Broadband supply is now predicted to reach 96 percent coverage in Wales by the end of 2015, with the remaining 4 percent representing approximately 90,000 homes primarily in rural areas. The urban-rural digital divide parallels traditional urban-rural divides and the nexus of rurality, socio-economic deprivation and digital exclusion indicates that access to broadband is an issue of economic, social and cultural importance.
Access to broadband allows interactivity between individuals, businesses and the external world, providing information, resources and access to services which are becoming increasingly, and sometimes exclusively available online. Consequently there are particular benefits associated with broadband connection for those in rural areas, given that this technology has the potential to overcome geographical and social isolation. However, these factors also constrain broadband diffusion. Previous studies have focused primarily on factors involved in technology acceptance and these are implicit within policy and Internet Service Providers’ strategies, which aim to increase broadband supply, demand and adoption.
I am particularly interested in exploring factors involved in demand and adoption, with specific focus on non-adoption in rural areas. Non-adopters include those with supply who do not subscribe, and those without supply who may or may not wish to access broadband. In-depth analysis of rural non-adopters has the potential to reveal factors and processes which are specifically related to non-adoption. Identification of these may reveal a typology of rural non-adopters whose characteristics and experiences can be better understood to influence broadband supply, demand and adoption in this context
This research explores how futures are imagined in Wales, in light of environmental change and the notion of the ‘Anthropocene’. Increasingly, imaginations of the future are seen as influential to social change because they are a part of how possible futures are pre-experienced and set in motion, and yet the ways in which futures are imagined and predicted are given little attention. Wales provides an interesting context for this research as its Government is one of only a few in the world to have sustainability as a central organising principle in its constitution, an approach which includes the pioneering One Wales: One Planet manifesto and the Well-being of Future Generations Act. This project engages with a range of case studies in Wales, from environmental art projects to Government initiatives, and aims to contribute to discussions and understanding about the role of imagination (particularly imaginations of the future) in behavioral and political responses to global environmental change.
In 2014 the Welsh Government commissioned an all-encompassing review of the Welsh National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its primary purpose was to examine how they can adapt to meet the radically different challenges and conditions they now face compared to when they were first established. The final report’s overarching theme is that there needs to be fundamental change in institutional and inter-agency culture and working practices. Additionally, whilst conserving the natural beauty of the areas will still be of primary importance, one of the key proposals is to include an additional purpose of promoting ‘sustainable forms of economic and community development’. Therefore, there is likely to be tensions where these apparent contradictory purposes interact.
I will be examining these possible contestations, together with the practical consequences of specific changes, especially in relation to how Welsh identity is tied to the landscape and how this might differentiate Wales from other parts of the United Kingdom. An important aspect of the project is the partnership with Landscapes for Life and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. This access will allow me to obtain a unique perspective on the impact of the proposed changes on landscape governance.
This research will be exploring how relationships between environmental values and the cultural landscape are lived out on the frontiers of climate change in the Arctic. Svalbard, home to some of the Northern- most settlements on Earth, offers unique opportunities to delve into various relationships between human, non-human life and the material world. The three case study sites will aim to encompass a broad temporality of these relationships, spanning past, present and future: Pyramiden (an abandoned Russian mining settlement and tourist ‘Ghost town’), Barentsburg (an active Russian mining town) and Longyearbyen (the home to the Global Seed Bank and main university research centre). The unique characteristics of these places will be investigated using ethnographic and participative research methods.
This research aims to examine how participation in charity sport events shape personal and collective identities and how feelings of personal achievement, motivation, social and civic responsibility, altruism and reciprocity can manifest through these mobilities.
The project will also investigate who participates in these activities (exploring issues of gender, age, class and personal fitness), what kinds of embodied efforts are involved (training undertaken, personal understandings of effort, limits and achievement), and how this sporting participation shapes peoples experiences and lifeworlds (how are people inspired to get involved and what are the results of these practices on the future lives of participants).
My project will look to analyse previously collected semi-structured interviews conducted in Zambia with members of the Siavonga community (Southern Zambia). This area has been introduced to aquaculture of tilapia and other fishing practices yet is still an impoverished area. During analysis, social-political and ecological-environmental frames will be used to try and determine the extent and drivers of poverty in the area and use this as a possible platform for rebuilding fisheries.
My research seeks to address the relationship between industrial heritage and identity in post-industrial urban spaces in the UK. I’m engaging with critical investigations of constructions of heritage, familial narratives, and (post-)memory to understand the enduring relevance of industrial Britain to masculine identities. My methods will include familial interviews and walking interviews with participants.
This work will use head-mounted logging technology to document the behaviour of people whilst they navigate around urban and wild spaces. Special software will identify particular behaviours and relate them to environmental features and navigation behaviour. Subsequently the study will attempt to determine what features of the environment and of the people negotiating that environment lead to particular behaviours. An important aspect of this work will consider of how use of mobile technology modifies behaviour.
This research examines the social and cultural geographies of European diasporas in Wales. While much diaspora research focuses on migrations between former metropolitan powers and their former colonies, relatively little attention has been paid to the experiences of migrants from other European countries to the UK. This neglect is surprising considering facilitation of movement between one member state and another by the European Union, as well as the single market creating more opportunities and incentives for intra-European connections. Significantly, migration to the UK from the Accession 8 (A8) group of states that joined the EU in 2004 has brought significant demographic changes both to many localities in particular and to the UK as a whole. An academic study of contemporary A8 diasporas is particularly pertinent for a number of reasons. Firstly, these EU nationals’ negotiation of belonging along several facets of identity allows for a study that does not experience these post-colonial ties. Secondly, much of the academic literature on diasporas is concerned with the way in which race and racial differences are experiences and negotiated. As A8 migrants are mostly from a white ethnic background, such a study has potential to examine alternative conceptualizations of race in diaspora through whiteness. This study focuses on the experience of members of the Polish diaspora in Wales. The overwhelming majority of A8 migrants to the UK are Polish nationals; for reasons of practicality in accessing sufficient participant numbers, as well as the candidate’s own research interest and positionality, it is proposed to focus on the experiences of Polish diasporas.
The Economic and Social Research Council’s recent International Benchmarking Review ranked UK Human Geography number one globally, and it was the first social science to be rated in this way. Human Geography is an agenda-setting discipline characterized by empirical and conceptual innovation, diversity, and vibrancy.
The Human Geography pathway is founded on longstanding institutional links between Aberystwyth’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Cardiff’s School of Geography and Planning, and Swansea’s Department of Geography. All three units demonstrated outstanding quality in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. As well as a clear collective vision, the pathway provides both depth and breadth of expertise. It incorporates strengths in:
- cultural and social geography (with media geography and mobilities research specialisms);
- economic geography;
- historical geography;
- political geography;
- population geography and demography (with a migration studies specialism);
- quantitative geography and GIS;
- society and environment research; and
- urban geography.
Further specialisms in rural geography, landscape studies, and environmental sustainability add to the world-leading expertise the pathway encompasses.
Students are attracted by the vibrancy and vitality of our research environment, which, in emphasizing co-produced research, involves collaborative partners such as Welsh Government, European Commission, United Nations, Ordnance Survey, Natural Resources Wales, Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, Muslim Council of Wales, Welsh Refugee Council, etc., and connects with a broad social-science community through the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research Data and Methods (WISERD) network and such facilities as the £8 million ESRC Administrative Data Research Centre for Wales.
For students on the ‘1+3’ route, subject-specific training modules follow a common syllabus which culminates in jointly taught residential courses. Subject-specific training and student development continues throughout the doctorate through a coordinated programme of standalone workshops. Topics include: using GIS; publishing and dissemination; achieving impact; policy-research opportunities; and preparing for an academic career.