Dr Jonathan Oldfield PhD

Dr Jonathan Oldfield

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Reader in Russian Environmental Studies
Director of Internationalisation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Jon Oldfield’s research explores Russian understandings of physical natural systems with a specific focus on the work and ideas of Russian physical geographers during the late tsarist and Soviet periods. He is currently examining the development of Soviet climate science via the work of the climatologist M.I. Budyko. His research is funded by the ESRC, AHRC and British Academy.


BSc (Hons), PGCE, PhD


Jon Oldfield has worked at the Universities of Nottingham, Queen Mary University of London, and Glasgow. He took up the post of Reader in Russian Environmental Studies at Birmingham in 2014.

His current research explores Russian and Soviet understandings of physical natural systems with a specific focus on climate change science and geoengineering.


  • Various teaching at Years 1 and 2
  • Most recently, Jon Oldfield has taught a Year 3 module - 'Nature-Society Relations: The Ecological Century'.

Postgraduate supervision

Current Postgraduate Students

  • Emmah Ndiokho, Health Seeking Behaviours and respiratory health problems in the Niger Delta, Nigeria: a case study of Eket
  • Nadia French, The ‘reality scale’ of Arctic environmental governance: changing nature-society relations of the Russia’s Yamal peninsula
  • Liao Tzu Hsiang, Urban Land Use Planning and Spatial Development Strategies for the Indigenous people in Taiwan


  • Kerstin Malhapuu, ‘Constructing 'normality' in a wider Europe: the case of Estonia, ESRC 1+3 (University of Glasgow)
  • Andrew Walters, Workers’ self-management in the Solidarity movement, Poland, 2012-2015 (University of Glasgow)
  • Seumas Bates, The Lived Experience of Insecurity in Post Hurricane Katrina and Post BP Oil Spill Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana (December 2014)
  • Darren Roberts, 'Music and The City: Normalisation, Marginalisation, and Resistance in Birmingham’s Musicscape' ESRC (October 2014)
  • Jack Sharples, A critical exploration of Russian conceptions of natural gas as a strategic resource during the Medvedev presidency, ESRC (August 2013)
  • Ada-Charlotte Regelmann, The process of Social Integration in Estonia and Slovakia, Adam Smith Research Foundation Scholarship (2012)
  • Paul Jordan, The Eurovision Song Contest: A Platform for Nationalism and a Vehicle for "National Re-Branding," ESRC (2011)
  • Samual Randalls, Firms, finance and the weather. The UK’s weather derivatives market, ESRC-NERC Collaborative Studentship (2006)


Current Research:

Leverhulme Research Fellowship, 2018-2019.

PI, ‘Soviet climate science and its intellectual legacies,’ AHRC Research Grant, 2017-2020, £482K. In collaboration with Dr Vladimir Jankovic (University of Manchester), Dr Julia Lajus (Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg, Russia), Dr Elana Wilson-Rowe (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), Dr Denis Shaw (Birmingham), Katja Doose (Birmingham)

PI, ‘M.I. Budyko (1920-2001) and Soviet contributions to climate change science 1945-1991’, British Academy,’ 2014-2016.

PI, ‘The landscape concept in Russian scientific thought, c1880s-1991’, AHRC Research Grant, (Ref: AH/G011028/1), 2009-2013, £218K.  

PI, ‘The USSR and its contribution to global environmental understanding and policy prescription, 1945-1991,’ ESRC Research Grant, (Ref: RES-062-23-1734), 2010-2013, £140K. In collaboration with Dr Denis Shaw (University of Birmingham).  

CoI, ‘Exploring Russia’s Environmental History and Natural Resources’, PI, David Moon (University of York) and involving academics from the following institutions: Georgetown University (USA), Ohio State University (USA), National Research University-Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg (Russia) and the European University at St. Petersburg (Russia), Leverhulme International Network, 2013-2015. 

Completed grants:

PI, ‘Translating Russian & East European cultures: Exchange and communication within a multidisciplinary and multicultural Area Studies context,’ AHRC Research Network Grant, 2011-2012, £32K.  

CoI, ‘Environmental histories of the Visegrad countries: Cold War and the environmental sciences’, International Visegrad Fund (Small Grants Program), in collaboration with the Institute of Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2012, £4K

PI, ‘Environmental histories of East-West relations post-1945’, Adam Smith Research Foundation Seedcorn Fund, University of Glasgow, July 2011, £1.6K

PI, 'Early Influences and debates in the German landscape geography concept in Russia with comparisons to the UK (late nineteenth century - c1920)', RGS-IBG Small Research Grant, July 2007-April 2008, £5K

PI, 'Critical perspectives on environmental co-operation between Russia and the EU, Nuffield Foundation small grant scheme (Ref: SGS/00942/G), 2004-2006, £5.5K

PI, ‘Trans-national approaches to locally situated concerns: Theoretical and practical insights from Russia, CEE and the UK’, ESRC Research Seminars Competition 2002-3, 2003-2004, £15.5K. In collaboration with Moya Flynn & Rebecca Kay (University of Glasgow), Adam Fagan (Queen Mary, University of London), Tassilo Herrschel (University of Westminster), Adrian Smith (University of Southampton),

CoI, ‘Russian views of sustainable development and their historical antecedents’, ESRC Research Grant (ESRC Reference: R/000/22/3743), 2002-2005, £30K. In collaboration with Dr Denis Shaw (University of Birmingham).

CoI, ‘The History of Soviet Geography in the UK’, British Academy Small Research Grant, November 2002 – October 2003, £4K. (with a 1K extension funded by University of Nottingham to mid-2004). In collaboration with D Matless (Nottingham) and A Swain (Nottingham).

Other activities

  • National Advisory Board, Europe-Asia Studies
  • Panel Member & Peer Review College member (academic), Art & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Peer Review College member (academic), Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Executive Committee (Secretary), UK Association for Area Studies Associations


Books and Edited Collections

  • Oldfield, J.D. and Shaw, D.J.B. (2016). The Development of Russian Environmental Thought: Russian Geographical Perspectives on the Natural Environment, 1880s-1960s, Routledge, London
  • Oldfield, J.D., Lajus, J., and Shaw, D.J.B. Eds., (2015) Special Issue: Conceptualizing and Utilizing the Natural Environment: Critical Reflections from Imperial and Soviet Russia, Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 93, No. 1.
  • Flynn, M., Kay, R., and Oldfield, J.D. Eds., (2008) Trans-national issues, local concerns and meanings of post-socialism: Insights from Russia, Central Eastern Europe and Beyond, University Press of America: Lanham (MD)
  • Oldfield, J. D. (2005) Russian nature: exploring the environmental consequences of societal change, Ashgate Press (Environmental Policy & Practice Series)
  • Oldfield, J.D. and Tickle, A. Eds., (2002) Special Issue: Environmental Policy and Post-Socialism: Ten Years On, European Environment, Vol. 12, No. 2

Journal articles, 2008-present

  • Oldfield, J.D. (2018) Imagining climates past, present and future: Soviet contributions to the science of anthropogenic climate change, 1953-1991, Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 60 (April), pp. 41-51. doi.org/10.1016/j.jhg.2017.12.004
  • Oldfield, J.D. (2016) ‘Mikhail Budyko's (1920–2001) contributions to Global Climate Science: from heat balances to climate change and global ecology,’ WIREs Climate Change, WIREs Climate Change, Vol. 7, pp. 682–692. DOI: 10.1002/wcc.412
  • Oldfield, J.D. and Shaw, D.J.B. (2015), A Russian Geographical Tradition? The Contested Canon of Russian and Soviet Geography, 1884-1953, Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 49, pp. 75-84. DOI:10.1016/j.jhg.2015.04.015
  • Shaw, D.J.B and Oldfield, J.D. (2015), Soviet geographers and the Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945: Lev Berg and Andrei Grigor’ev, Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 47, pp. 40-49. DOI:10.1016/j.jhg.2014.06.002
  • Oldfield, J.D., Lajus, J., Shaw, D.J.B. (2015) ‘Conceptualizing and Utilizing the Natural Environment: Critical Reflections from Imperial and Soviet Russia,’ Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 93, No. 1, pp. 1-15.
  • Oldfield, J.D., Lajus, J., and Shaw, D.J.B. Eds., (2015) Special Issue: Conceptualizing and Utilizing the Natural Environment: Critical Reflections from Imperial and Soviet Russia, Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 93, No. 1.
  • Oldfield, J.D., Lajus, J., Shaw, D.J.B. (2015) ‘Conceptualizing and Utilizing the Natural Environment: Critical Reflections from Imperial and Soviet Russia,’ Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 93, No. 1, pp. 1-15.
  • Oldfield J.D.(2013), Climate modification and climate change debates amongst Soviet physical geographers, 1940s-1960s, WIREs Climate Change, 4(6), pp. 513-524
  • Oldfield, J.D. and Shaw, DJB. (2013), V.I. Vernadskii and the development of biogeochemical understandings of the biosphere, c.1880s–1968, The British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 46(2), pp. 287-310 (doi:10.1017/S0007087412000015)
  • Oldfield, JD, Matless, D. and Swain A. (2011) The making of a sub-discipline: State initiatives and the production of British geographical studies of the soviet union and eastern Europe, circa 1945-1971, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, 36(4), pp. 574-589 (doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2011.00443.x)
  • Kay, R. and Oldfield J.D.(2011) Emotional engagements with the field: A view from Area Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 63(7), pp. 1275-1293(doi:10.1080/09668136.2011.592283)
  • Matless, D., Oldfield, J., Swain, A. (2008) Geographically touring the eastern bloc: British geography, travel cultures and the Cold War, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, Vol. 33, pp. 354-375 (doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2008.00303.x)
  • Shaw, D.J.B. and Oldfield, J.D.(2008) Totalitarianism and geography: L.S. Berg and the defence of an academic discipline in the age of Stalin, Political Geography, Vol. 27, pp. 96-112 (doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2007.07.001)
  • Shaw, D.J.B. and Oldfield, J.D.(2008) Scientific, Institutional and Personal Rivalries among Soviet Geographers in the Late Stalin Era, Europe-Asia Studies, 60(8), October, pp. 1397-1418 (doi:10.1080/09668130802292218)
  • Pollard, J.S., Oldfield, J.D., Randalls, S., and Thornes, J.E. (2008) Firm finances, weather derivatives and geography, Geoforum, 39, pp. 616-624 (doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2006.03.008 )


  • Matless, D., Oldfield, J.D., Swain, A. (2007) Encountering Soviet Geography: Oral Histories of British Geographical Studies of the USSR and Eastern Europe 1945-1991, Social & Cultural Geography, Vol. 8(3), pp. 352-372.
  • Shaw, D.J.B. and Oldfield, J.D.(2007) Landscape science: A Russian geographical tradition, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 97(1), pp. 111-126.
  • Oldfield, J.D.and Shaw D.J.B, (2006) V.I. Vernadsky and the noosphere concept: Russian understandings of society-nature interaction, Geoforum, Vol. 37, pp. 145-154
  • Oldfield, J.D., Kouzmina, A. and Shaw, D. J. B. (2003) Russia’s involvement in the international environmental process, Eurasian Geography and Economics, Vol. 44(2), pp. 157-168
  • Oldfield, J.D.and Shaw, D. J. B. (2002) Revisiting Sustainable Development: Russian cultural and scientific traditions and the concept of Sustainable Development, Area, Vol. 34(4), pp. 391-400
  • Oldfield, J.D.(2002) Russian Environmentalism, European Environment, Vol. 12(2), pp. 117-129
  • Oldfield, J.D.(2001) Russia, systemic transformation and the concept of sustainable development, Environmental Politics, Vol. 10(3), pp. 94-110
  • Oldfield, J. D. (2000) Structural economic change and the natural environment in Russia, Post-Communist Economies, Vol. 12(1), pp. 77-90
  • Oldfield, J. (1999) Socio-economic change and the environment - Moscow city case study, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 165(2), pp. 222-231
  • Shaw, D. J B. and Oldfield, J. (1998) The Natural Environment of the CIS in the Post-Soviet Period, Post-Soviet Geography and Economics, Vol. 39(3), pp. 164-177.

Selected book chapters, 2008-present

  • Oldfield, J.D.(forthcoming), ‘Conceptualisations of Climate Change amongst Soviet Geographers from ca. 1945 to the early 1970s,’ in Julia Herzberg, Andreas Renner, Ingrid Schierle eds., Cold in Russia, Berghahn (series: "The Environment in History: International Perspectives")
  • Oldfield, J.(2009) ‘Second World’, in Kitchin R., Thrift, N. eds. International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Vol 10, Elsevier: Oxford, pp. 56-62.


  • Oldfield, J.D.and Shaw, D.J.B. (2005) ‘Russian understandings of society-nature interaction: Historical underpinnings of the sustainable development concept’, in Rosenholm, A. and Autio-Sarasmo, S. (eds.) Understanding Russian nature: Representations, Values and Concepts, Aleksanteri Papers 4/2005, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki: Helsinki, pp. 237-252
  • Oldfield, J. D. and Tickle, A. (2005) ‘Foreign economic relations and the environment: a historical approach’, in Turnock, D. (ed.) Foreign Direct Investment and Regional Development and the Former Soviet Union (The Memorial volume for  Frank Carter), Ashgate Press, pp. 123-139
  • Oldfield, J. D., O’Hara, S., Shaw, D.J.B. (2004) ‘Environment and environmentalism in the transition economies of central and eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union’, in Bradshaw, M. J. and Stenning, A. (eds.), East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union: The Post-Socialist States, Harlow: Essex: Prentice Hall, pp. 137-160
  • Oldfield, J. D. and Shaw, D.J.B. (2001) ‘The State of the Environment in the Commonwealth of Independent States’, in Turnock, D. (ed.) East Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union: Environment and Society, London: Arnold, pp. 173-186

View all publications in research portal


Russian environment; climate change; politics of climate science; environmental policy