Sam Poskitt

Environmental Social Scientist
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
T: +44 (0)344 928 5170 (*)
Sam is an Environmental Social Scientist with a background in Geography, Environmental Anthropology and International Development. He specialises in participatory approaches for research, learning, and decision-making in relation to tackling social-ecological challenges.

Sam joined Hutton in 2023 as an Environmental Social Scientist. He works on the development and application of participatory approaches in research around people’s relationships with the natural environment and how these are governed. Prior to working at Hutton, Sam spent five years facilitating and researching the effects of Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) – a participatory approach for communicating climate information with small-scale farmers in the Global South and helping them use it to support planning and decision-making on their own farms.

Sam completed his PhD at the University of Reading’ Department of International Development, and the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences department at the James Hutton Institute. This explored the effects that Participatory Scenario Planning can have for learning and decision-making about social-ecological challenges, as well as how such approaches may be influenced by power imbalances.

Sam also holds a Masters of Research (MRes) in Environment and Development, as well as a BSc in Geography from Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University.

Sam is a professionally-trained and experienced facilitator of participatory approaches for stakeholder engagement, learning and decision-making, as well as an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Sam’s other interests include music, walking, running, his dog, and learning Korean.

Sam is broadly interested in research on the following themes:

  • Participatory and transdisciplinary approaches for learning, research and decision-making
  • Interaction of different knowledges and worldviews
  • Social-ecological resilience
  • Sustainable adaptation to climate variability and change
  • Collaborative learning and innovation


Current projects

Sam works across several projects on the development and application of participatory approaches in research around people’s relationships with the natural environment and how these are governed. This includes research around the values associated with nature and how they may be affected by climate change, as well as around community relationships with land and how transformations to more just and sustainable uses of land may be supported. Sam is also a mental health first aider, and contributes to equity, diversity and inclusion at Hutton, as part of the Addressing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research (AEDIR) and Neurodivergence at Work working groups.

Past research

Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) (2018-2022)

PICSA is a participatory approach to climate services and agricultural extension that combines historical climate data and forecasts with farmers’ knowledge of what works in their individual contexts, and then uses participatory planning methods to help them make informed decisions about their agricultural practices. Sam spent 5 years supporting the continued development and scaling-out of PICSA through: design and facilitation of participatory methodologies for research and training, evaluating and understanding the effects of PICSA, and adapting the PICSA approach to new contexts. Sam gained experience working in Bangladesh, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Dominica, India, and Zimbabwe, and collaborating with partners including national extension and meteorological services, as well as the UN World Food Programme (WFP), UN Development Programme (UNDP), CGIAR, and Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH).

PhD Research: ‘Investigating the benefits of participatory scenario planning for tackling social-ecological problems.’ (2014-2018)

Sam’s PhD explored how ‘participatory scenario planning’ – a set of approaches for collectively imagining alternative, plausible future events, conditions and trajectories could help stakeholders learn about and develop responses to complex problems in connected human and environmental systems. Supervised by Andrew Ainslie at the University of Reading and Kerry Waylen at the James Hutton Institute.

Other past research

Sam has also conducted previous research on:

  • Integration of climate information in health-sector planning and decision-making in Uganda.
  • People’s knowledge and perceptions of vulnerability to climate change in Sinazongwe District, southern Zambia.
  • Emotional experiences of driving.


Sam has previously convened Masters-level modules on Food Security and Development, and Participatory Interventions in the Graduate Institute of International Development, Agriculture and Economics (GIIDAE) at the University of Reading.



Technical / contract reports

  • Blackstock, K.; Nicholson, H.; Juarez Bourke, A.; Poskitt, S.; Matthews, K. (2024) Land Use Transformations Project (JHIC31) Milestone 24 – Initial Findings on Scottish Land Use Policy Coherence for Transformations, Project Milestone (M24), 25 pages. Unpublished.
  • Joyce, K.; Martino, S.; Poskitt, S.; Rivington, M.; Nijnik, M. (2023) Engagement workshop with stakeholder experts to discuss values of forest natural capital and gaps in implementing vlues and valuation methods, Milestone 3.1: report on Joint D5-1 / D5-2 Natural Capital Stakeholder Workshop – 19th May 2023 for the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Servies Division of the Scottish Government through it’s Stratefic Research Programme (2022-2027).
  • Poskitt, S.; Rivington, M.; Martino, S.; Joyce, K. (2023) Report on Natural Capital Stakeholder Workshop: Deliverable D3.2a for the Project D5-2 Climate Change Impacts on Natural Capital, The James Hutton Insitute, 17pp

Conference posters / abstracts

  • Poskitt, S.; Clarkson, G.; Dorward, P. (2023) “I have more freedom to earn income”” How women and other ‘less-migratory’ people in pastoralist communities adapted livelihood strategies in response to participatory climate services, DSA Conference 2023, Crisis in the Anthropocene: Rethinking connection and agency for development, 28-30 June 2023, University of Reading