Research topics

Through the development and application of a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods, we provide new insights into complex problems relevant to contemporary environmental and rural issues in Scotland, Europe and beyond. 

Regardless of our research methods and questions, we share a commitment to engagement and dialogue outside of academia, sharing and often co-creating insights with stakeholders ranging from policy makers to community groups.

We contribute insights to discourses on sustainability, social and economic dimensions of rural development, cultural and social norms, local food, agriculture and wider food systems, transport, land management and transitions, energy, natural resource use, human-environment relationships, valuation of natural resources, governance and institutions, risk, communities and health. 

We achieve this through “free-standing” social science, interdisciplinary work with natural and data scientists and also transdisciplinary work with a range of stakeholders.

Much of our research is carried out within collaborative projects. This can involve teams collaborating within SEGS and in interdisciplinary collaborations with all the other departments at the Hutton. As an example, we collaborate with colleagues in EBS to understand natural flood management and with colleagues in ICS on spatial analyses and agent-based modelling. 

We also have many external collaborations, with peers in Scottish and UK universities, often reflected in PhD supervisory teams. We also have many contacts and collaborators across the world. This is especially the case in Europe, relating to our Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe projects, where we have contacts and active collaborators everywhere from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) to the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).

Our research is funded from a variety of sources.  A significant proportion of our work is carried out for the Scottish Government as part of its Strategic Research Programme. We are also involved in the Scottish Government Centres of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks (EPIC); Climate Change (CXC) and Water (CREW).  Other funders of our research include Leverhulme, UKRI, UK and Scottish government agencies, European Commision funding mentioned above and ESPON.