At Birmingham we are helping to define the landscape for the future. The complexity of the global energy challenge requires systems-level thinking, drawing on the breadth of our capabilities, from policy and economics to new technologies. 

Energy research at Birmingham is driven by research centres that are pushing innovation to answer the difficult questions about our energy development and consumption. Our research centres are recognised nationally and internationally for their significant contribution in research and education.

The rapid and dramatic economic advances made by many countries over the past decade have accelerated the need to find sustainable and plentiful supplies of energy to maintain an an increasing demand for power; from domestic use to commercial use in order to maintain food stores and address issues of food security. 

In this search for sustainable energy there are unintended consequences for habitats and ecosystems, sometimes exacerbating the severe effects of climate change. Addressing the challenge of Energy requires multiple disciplines to collaborate on approaches to not only provide new, clean energy for a growing population, but to address the political and environmental issues of large-scale production of new energy solutions such as hydro- and wind-power.

Projects available under this theme

Find out more about the project and apply directly to the scholarships via the listings below. You can also follow our guidance on how to apply to the Global Challenges PhD Scholarships.

Hydropower and Environmental Justice in Southeast Asia

Gilson and Day

In terms of framing the issue, much of the complexity of the issues surrounding water security along the Mekong is premised on the juxtaposition of state-based economic development (comprising economic security, energy security and food security in particular) with environmental security. For the latter to be achieved, water has to be regarded as an inalienable public good for all inhabitants, whereas the former imposes artificial (and real) barriers, posing a threat to neighbours and downstream communities. This doctoral project would examine the spaces for advocacy engaging with these issues, at national, regional and international levels, seeking to test the ways in which citizen activists seek social justice claims in the face of the adverse impact on the lives of millions of people of dam building in pursuit of new sources of energy.

At the heart of this project is an enterprise to further advance the still-nascent dialogue between the disciplines of International Relations and Human Geography, by combining the expertise available in the Department of Political Science and International Studies and the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at Birmingham.

Explore the projects