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Staff and Students

The SEGS department is organised into two groups: ‘People and places’ and ‘Environmental governance and land management’ which are respectively led by Liz Dinnie and Kerry Waylen.  The information provided below relates to a predecessor group structure: we will update it with descriptions of the new groups in summer 2020.

Society, institutions and governance

Research conducted under this theme draws on a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches from disciplines such as sociology, geography, anthropology and institutional economics. We aim to understand the ways in which different people negotiate access to and control over resources and the consequences this has for all aspects of sustainability. One strand explores relationships between governance structures and practices that enable and constrain coordination of management activities. This means studying the politics and differential power relations inherent in these processes. Another focuses on individual, social and institutional adaptation in response to gradual processes such as climate change and extreme events such as flooding. Here, we are interested in environmental justice, examining the distribution of benefits and costs associated with this adaptation. Particular attention is given as to how stakeholder engagement with complex environmental decision making can be enhanced, blending theory with a focus on practical policy application.

Staff involved in this work: Paola Ovando Pol, Kirsty BlackstockKatrina BrownAnja BygMags CurrieLiz DinnieDominic DuckettEmily Hastings, Scott Herrett, Alba Juárez Bourke, Carol Kyle, Annie McKeeJoshua MsikaAnnabel PinkerKatrin PragerKerry Waylen, Keith Marshall, Adam Calo, Orla Shortall

PhD students: Gillian Dowds, Kirsty Holstead, Andrew Maclaren, Sam Poskitt

Markets, systems and space

The research of Markets, Systems and Space explores socio-economic systems, the ways that they vary across space and time, how they are affected by remoteness, sparsity and proximity and interact with their natural and market environments. Our interest in patterns and processes of socio-economic change leads us to focus upon technological and social innovation, and upon the valuation of natural capital and other public goods. We seek to understand the changing spatial organisation of economic activities, and to explain regional disparities in socio-economic performance and wellbeing. Related topics explored by the group include demography, the role of the primary sector and natural resource use, and impacts of, and responses to, climate change. The majority of our work is applied in nature and aims to inform decision- and policy-making, often by exploring the application of place-based policy.

The group comprises researchers with a variety of backgrounds and experience, all broadly within the disciplines of Economics and Geography. The methods used include whole economy modelling, general equilibrium models, spatial and panel data econometrics, and GIS, together with mixed methods (e.g. of multi-criteria, cost-benefit/cost-effectiveness analyses) to assess policy and environmental (including climate change) impacts and to value ecosystem services.

Staff involved in this work: Andrew CopusJonathan Hopkins, Laure Kuhfuss,  Maria Nijnik, Carla Barlagne, Simone Piras

PhD students: Mariana Melnykovych, Peter Orrell, Lech Pichnor

Values, choices and behaviour

Work within Values, Choices and Behaviour aims to improve our understanding of how people experience, make sense of and value natural resources and their social and natural environment, and the implications this has for their decision-making and social practices. A wide range of topics is considered, including those relating to land and wildlife management, greenspace, climate change, everyday behaviours and farming practices. In terms of disciplinary approaches, much of the research is rooted in psychological or economic approaches. However, we often adopt interdisciplinary approaches, for example, psychological and economic perspectives are combined, sociological viewpoints are taken to enrich psychological research, or psychological approaches are used to inform governance research. Thus, research often contributes to innovation from a disciplinary perspective. Quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection are used; large-scale surveys as well as focus-group discussions, interviews and experimental approaches. Similarly, data analysis techniques span a wide range, including choice modelling, agent-based modelling and other multivariate techniques, as well as discourse-based and grounded approaches for the analysis of qualitative data.

Staff involved in this work: Michaela Roberts, Kathryn ColleyAnna ConniffTony Craig, Katherine Irvine, Lee-Ann Sutherland, Christina Noble, Alice Hague

PhD students: Rebecca Bell, Stephanie Graf, Ruth Kelly, Charlie Langan, Asanterabi Lowassa, Florence Lwiza, Senna Middelveld, Marie Pagès-Gold, Christopher Schultz, Megan Watson, Irma Arts, Rachel Creaney,


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.