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Samuel Peter Poskitt

Staff picture: Samuel Peter Poskitt
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
PhD Student

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Sam is a PhD candidate researching the benefits that may occur from the use of participatory scenario planning in managing complex problems that span across human and environmental systems. In particular, he explores processes of learning that may occur in participatory scenario planning. He holds an MRes in Environment and Development and  BSc in Geography from Lancaster University. Sam's PhD is a collaboration between the James Hutton Institute and the University of Reading, where he is based. In addition to his research, Sam is part of Facing the Future, a network of early-career researchers exploring transdisciplinary solutions to complex human and environmental problems. His other interests include walking, volunteering and traveling.

Current research interests

Doctoral Research: Scenario planning, what is it good for? Investigating the benefits scenario planning may have for managing wicked problems.

Unsustainable relationships between humans and environments have led to significant problems that cross the boundaries between human and environmental systems. Such problems are characterised by multiple drivers that interact in complex ways and by uncertain pathways and conditions in the future. In the past two decades, scenario planning (the creation of multiple, plausible narratives that describe potential future conditions) has become an increasingly popular tool for helping manage such problems. However, it remains unclear exactly how and by what mechanisms scenario planning may help manage complex human and environmental problems. Sam’s PhD explores the use of participatory scenario planning as a tool for managing such complex and uncertain problems in human and environmental systems. Specifically, he explores learning in PSP, how learning occurs and what exactly is learned by whom in scenario planning processes.

Sam's PhD is supervised at the James Hutton Institute by Dr Kerry Waylen, and at the University of Reading by Dr Andrew Ainslie.

Past research

Sam's MRes research explored local people’s knowledge and perceptions of vulnerability to climate change in Sinazongwe, Zambia. He used a rudimentary scenario planning exercise as part of his methodology and developed a keen interest in it. However, the method was difficult for participants to understand and engage in, and failed to achieve the desired results. These difficulties subsequently attracted Sam to developing a more critical understanding of scenario planning through his PhD.

Sam also researched the emotional experience of driving for his undergraduate dissertation.

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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.