Adapting to Environmental and Energy Uncertainties

This research theme interrogates how environmental change, crisis, resource decline, and energy uncertainties are understood, experienced, coped with, and governed by individuals and communities. Working  across scales from the household to the nation, the consequences of such change, and adaptations to it, for justice, equality, and resilience are critically examined. 

Using a range of theoretical perspectives and working across international contexts, this theme addresses critical issues of uncertainty and change at the intersection of society and environment. We focus on the political, cultural and socio-economic dimensions of climate change, pollution, ecosystem disruption, agrarian stress, and the designation and depletion of ‘resources’ including energy, water and minerals. We examine and engage deeply with policy and governance processes that shape historical, contemporary and future socio-natures, and through which responses to environmental change and crisis are developed.  Central to our work is a concern with understanding and redressing injustices and vulnerabilities in relation to environmental and energy issues, pertaining to inter alia class, gender, age, race, Indigeneity, and their intersections. We strive through our research and engagement to contribute to the development of healthy, inclusive, and resilient environments for the thriving of humans and non-humans, present and future. 

Research areas

Environmental justice: examining and seeking to address the differential impacts of environmental and energy issues on diverse social groups, the uneven distribution of power in environmental decision making, and the ways in which diverse communities cope, adapt, and plan for futures in which thriving might be possible

Resource governance: evaluating and advocating for changes in resource-making and management in the context of growing demand and conflicts between states, industry and communities, including how ‘resources’ might be defined and distributed differently, in more just, collective and reparative ways. 

Environmental knowledges: understanding plural environmental ontologies and epistemologies, their historical development, and the institutions that sustain them, and advocating for inclusive policy processes and decolonization.

Energy vulnerability, resilience and just transitions:  addressing energy poverty and access to energy resources/supplies; building fairness into low carbon energy transitions

Urban environmental governance and policy making: examining how politics, power and agency, both human and non-human, operate in shaping urban environments; and geographies of policy responses to environmental crisis and change in cities

Agrarian stress, migration and rural livelihood change:  exploring the political economy of agrarian change in response to environmental stress and intensifying inequalities, and piloting community-led solutions to crises; understanding the two-way relationship between migration and rural change including the complex interplay between ecological stress and economic, cultural and political processes which shape patterns and impacts of mobility

Research funding

Our research is funded by a range of UK and international funders: UKRI (ESRC, NERC, EPSRC, AHRC), NIHR, FAPESP); main charities and societies (Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, Heritage Lottery Fund); the European Commission (H2020, Horizon Europe); and several international providers of PhD scholarships. 

Postgraduate opportunities

This subtheme will contribute to the new specialist Master's course in Cities, Sustainability and Wellbeing that will be introduced in 2024-2025.

PhD Funding Sources

PhD projects within this subtheme are potentially funded by the UK ESRC (through the Midlands Graduate School) and AHRC (through the Midlands 4 Cities doctoral training partnership) and other CDTs, as well as specific schemes run by e.g. UKRI and Leverhulme. We have a number of international postgraduate researchers funded through governmental and employer scholarship schemes and international funders such as Commonwealth scholarships.