Professor Sophie Hadfield-Hill

Professor Sophie Hadfield-Hill

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor of Human Geography

Contact details

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

Sophie Hadfield-Hill is a Professor in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham. Principally a Children’s Geographer, Sophie’s expertise is children and young people’s everyday experiences of urban change in diverse contexts.  Her research portfolio spans young people’s lives in the UK, India and Brazil; she has been Principal and Co-Investigator on numerous research projects related to urban transformation. Sophie is currently Chair of the RGS-IBG Geographies of Children, Youth and Families research group.

For information on any of the grants, publications or impact work, please use the contact details.


Sophie Hadfield-Hill studied Geography at the University of Leicester (BA, MSc, PhD) graduating in 2009 with a PhD (thesis title: The future of responsible lending in India: perceptions of sustainability and the environment – supervised by Professor Jenny Pickerill and Professor Mike Bradshaw).  She subsequently moved to the Centre for Children and Youth, The University of Northampton to work as a post-doctoral researcher on the ESRC funded New Urbanisms, New Citizens (NUNC) project – exploring children and young people’s everyday life and participation in sustainable communities (2009-2013). Her responsibilities included ethnographic fieldwork in two case study areas, design of research tools, organisation of community based workshops, and research reports and dissemination to a range of academic and practitioner based audiences.

In 2013 Sophie was awarded an ESRC Future Research Leaders Grant to explore New Urbanism in India (2013-2016); a unique opportunity to investigate the everyday lives of children and their families living and moving through new urban environments in the emerging market context.  Her work is published in numerous outlets (see publications) on interlinked issues related to young people’s experiences of urban change (housing, play, sustainability, participation). Sophie joined the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences in 2014 as a Lecturer in Human Geography.

Since being at the University of Birmingham Sophie has developed her research portfolio which spans young people’s lives in the UK, India and Brazil.  Her contribution to the urban transformation agenda is significant.  Her work has also pushed the boundaries of digital qualitative research.  Through the development of a mobile app data collection tool ‘Map my Community’ she is an advocate of co-developed, digital tools, sensitive to cultural nuances. 

Postgraduate supervision

Sophie is currently supervising seven PhD students.

She would be interested to hear from potential PhD candidates in the fields of geographies of children and young people, urbanism and sustainable living across various geographical contexts.


Sophie’s work has received national and international recognition.  She has worked with numerous organisations in advising on large-scale, master-planned housing developments and how to best design these for the everyday needs of children and young people. 

Sophie had led or co-led the following research projects:

Funder Role Others in the research team Title Award
 USF Co-Investigator (Awarded November 2018)
PI: Professor Jenny Pickerill (University of Sheffield); Co-I: Professor Peter Kraftl (University of Birmingham), Kirsten Stevens-Wood (Cardiff Metropolitan University) Eco-communities in an urban future.   £19,908
 ESRC Co-Investigator (Awarded May 2018) (Grant Reference: ES/R006857/1) PI: Dr. Ayona Datta (Kings College London); Professor Sanjay Srivastava (Institute of Economic Growth); Dr. Melissa Butcher (Birkbeck College); Dr. Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay (IISER Mohali) Learning from small cities: Governing imagined futures and the dynamics of change in India’s smart age   £464,388
 ESRC-IAA Principal Investigator (Awarded June 2018)                                                                             Joint funded by LES Impact Fund. CoI: Professor Peter Kraftl (University of Birmingham) Scaling up Map my Community  £9,255
 ESRC                 Co-Investigator (Awarded Jan 2016 – Dec 2018)                                                           (Grant reference: ES/N013190/1) PI: Prof. Peter Kraftl (University of Birmingham); Co-Investigators: Dr. John Horton (University of Northampton); Dr. Ben Coles (University of Leicester). Brazilian partners: Prof. Jose Balestieri (UNESP); Assistant Prof. Rubens Dias (UNESP); Assistant Prof. Mateus Vilanova (UNESP); Assistant Prof. Arminda Campos (UNESP); Assistant Prof. Mauricio Delamaro (UNESP) (Re) Connect the Nexus: Young Brazilians’ experiences of and learning about food-water-energy  £374,523
Principal Investigator (Awarded Sept 2017 – March 2018)   (Grant reference: ES/M500446/1) Co-I: Prof. Peter Kraftl.  Strategic partner: UN-Habitat Urban futures: translating research and building partnerships for youth housing                 £24,560
 ESRC-IAA         Co-investigator (Awarded June 2017 – March 2018)                      (Grant reference: ES/M500446/1) PI: Prof. Peter Kraftl.       Garden villages of Tomorrow: translating research findings into practice     £4,985
 ESRC-IAA         Principal Investigator (Jan 2016 – Dec 2016)                                   (Grant reference: ES/M500446/1 Map my community: child-led participatory mapping of urban life in Delhi  £9,829
 ESRC Principal Investigator (Jan 2015 – Dec 2016)                                   (Grant reference: ES/N004663/1) Co-Investigators Professor Peter Kraftl (University of Leicester); Dr. John Horton (University of Northampton). Brazilian partners: Professor Jose Balestieri (UNESP); Assistant Professor Rubens Dias (UNESP); Assistant Professor Mateus Vilanova Sharing Futures: Sustainable urban transformations in water and energy   £90,195 
 ESRC Principal Investigator ‘Future Research Leader Scheme’ (2013-2016) (Grant reference: ES/K00932X/2 New Urbanism in India: Urban Living, Sustainability and Everyday Life


 RCUK Co-Investigator (2013)                                                                       (Professor Peter Kraftl, PI; Associate Professor John Horton, Co-I) Sustainable Science Vignette’ (part of the RCUK Bringing Cutting Edge Science in to the classroom’    £3,100


Others Books

Christensen, P., Hadfield-Hill, S., Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2017) New Urbanism, New Citizens: Children living in Sustainable Urban Environments, Routledge.

Peer reviewed articles / chapters

Trajber, R., Walker, C., Marchezini, V., Kraftl, P., Olivato, D., Hadfield-Hill, S., Xara, C. and Monteiro, S. (In press) Looping action research, citizen science and nexus approaches on climate change impacts to promote transformations with young people in the Paraíba Watershed, Brazil. Action Research, accepted for publication

Hadfield-Hill, S. (2019) Margin, Keywords in Radical Geographical Thought, Antipode's 50th Anniversary Book Series project.

Hadfield-Hill, S. and Zara, C. (2018) Negotiated, spiritual and destructive multi-species encounters: childhoods complexifying nature/culture dualisms, Geoforum, DOI:

Kraftl, P., Balastieri, J., Campos, A., Coles, B., Hadfield-Hill, S., Horton, J., Soares, P., Vilanova, M., Walker, C. and Zara, C. (2018, online early) (Re)Thinking (Re)Connection: Young People, ‘Natures’ and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in São Paulo State, Brazil. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Hadfield-Hill, S. and Zara, C. (2018) Being participatory through the use of app-based research tools, B. Carter and I. Coyne (Eds.) Being participatory: researching with children and young people, Springer

Hadfield-Hill, S. (2016) Children and Young People in Changing Urban Environments in the Majority World, P. Kraftl., K. Nairn and T. Skelton (Eds.) Geographies of Children and Young People: Space, place and environment, Springer Major Reference Work, Volume 3, 1-18.

Horton, J., Hadfield-Hill, S. and Kraftl, P. (2015) Children living with ‘sustainable’ urban architectures, Environment and Planning A, 47, 4, 903-921.

Horton, J., Christensen, P., Kraftl, P. and Hadfield-Hill, S. (2014)Walking … just walking’: everyday pedestrian practices of children and young people, Social and Cultural Geography, 15, 1, 94-115.

Hadfield-Hill, S. and Horton, J. (2014) Children’s experiences of participating in research: emotional moments together. Children’s Geographies, 12, 2, 135-153.

Hadfield-Hill, S. (2014) CSR in India: Reflections from the banking sector. Social Responsibility Journal, 10, 1, 21-37 (Special Issue: CSR in BRIC Countries).

Kraftl, P., Horton, J., Christensen, P., and Hadfield-Hill, S. (2013)Living on a Building Site: Young People’s Experiences of ‘Sustainable Communities’ in the UK, Geoforum, 50, 191-199.

Horton, J., Hadfield-Hill, S., Christensen, P. and Kraftl, P. (2013) Children, young people and sustainability: introduction to special issue, Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. 18, 3, 249-254.

Hadfield-Hill, S. (2012) Living in a sustainable community: New spaces, new behaviours? Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability (Special Issue: Children, Young People and Sustainability), 18, 3, 354-371.

Hadfield-Hill, S. (2007) The Greening of Project Finance Geography Compass 1, 5, 1058-75.

Reports (selected)

Kraftl, P. Hadfield-Hill, S. and Laxton, A, (2018) Garden Villages and Towns: Planning for Children and Young People.  University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Hadfield-Hill, S., Kraftl, P. and Zara, C. (2018) Youth and Housing – report to UN-Habitat Youth, Birmingham: University of Birmingham.

Hadfield-Hill, S., Kraftl, P. and Zara, C. (2017) App-based tools for participation and urban data collection – report to UN-Habitat Youth, Birmingham: University of Birmingham. 

Hadfield-Hill, S., Kraftl, P. and Zara. C. (2017) Mobility tracking: public space and walkability – report to UN-Habitat Youth, Birmingham: University of Birmingham.

Hadfield-Hill, S. and Zara, C. (2017) Final report: New Urbanisms in India: Urban living, sustainability and everyday life. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK