We’re always a fan of women supporting women, and this year we’re marking International Women’s Day by introducing two brilliant BSc Human Geography graduates. Heather Cadden graduated in 2015 and mentored Amelia Harper, who graduated in 2018; both are now working in in Corporate Social Responsibility/Ethics.

Find out more about where they are now, what they do, why it matters – and how they’re paying it forward to current students.

 

Heather Cadden works in ethical business/CSR at Marks & Spencer.

“I always loved social sciences and understanding different cultures and I felt like human geography at Reading was the right mix of the social aspects I loved of sociology at A-level and the international aspect of Geography. When I came to visit on an open day I fell in love with the campus and the course, especially the Erasmus program which I completed at the University of Groningen in my final year.”

 

Career inspiration

“I remember being so inspired when I was young when we did a project on Fairtrade. We all had to bring a Fairtrade product in – this was about 2000/2001 so it was mainly bananas, chocolate and coffee – and we then spent the show and tell being told all about the experiences of people in global supply chains and that initially caught my attention.

Fast forward to my time at Reading and I did two modules on development in second and third year, which studied life in the global south, considered child labour and the ILO conventions. We did a project presenting as H&M and our stance on child labour in the supply chain, which was such an eye opener to the world of CSR and what a career path might look like.

After a brief stint in Geography teaching I set my heart on a role in CSR. I was fortunate to get an Ethical Assistant role at George @ Asda’s Head Office, working with clothing supply chains, and about 18 months after that I moved to M&S Food to work in their Ethical Trade and human rights team.”

 

Working for a better future

“All my roles have had the rights of workers in supply chains as our focus, which means that every area we work on impacts women in many different ways. In my current role we work closely with our suppliers to monitor their ethical standards but also encourage them to share best practice together and support each other if they have any issues.  From the events we run to the day to day reports we grade, all the elements of work are to ensure we’re improving the experiences of workers in supply chains and by doing that we impact the women who work in those chains. We also work closely with other retailers to ensure we are working to similar goals and supporting workers.

One thing we did last Christmas was as a team, instead of doing a team secret Santa, I helped organise a box of hats, gloves and scarves for the Snowdrop Project – a charity that works to support and empower victims of modern slavery in the UK. This was a very small impact but I hope we keep working closely with charities and initiatives like this!”

 

Paying it forward: student mentoring

“Since graduating I’ve stayed in close contact with my lecturer Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans, and she’s been my referee. As I kept in contact when changing jobs we got to speaking about me coming into a lecture and chatting about my job. The first year I felt really underqualified so I offered to mentor a student instead. So from October 2017 I’ve been mentoring Amelia who was a final year student and now works in the CSR team at New Look. So this academic year we thought it would be great for us both to come back to Reading, talk about our jobs, the different ways companies approach CSR & Ethical and also how our mentoring relationship worked.

I’m currently speaking to quite a few students from Reading, and have offered my help and experience to any of them if they need it. I recently held a brand, retailer and supplier event on Responsible Recruitment at M&S’s offices and offered volunteer places to the students I’m in contact with so they could get some day-to-day ethical experience, but also be in a room full of brands, retailers and suppliers that are from a varied industry background so they’re not just hearing from me. I hope to offer this out to students for all events I manage as it’s a big part of my role.”

 

Ambitions for the future

“I hope to never leave this field! I’m really keen to travel and visit more factories and growers in global supply chains, I’d like to work between fashion and food as the similarities and differences are so interesting to me. I really want personally to look into ways technology can support us to help workers better and get more opportunities to heard their experiences.”

 

Amelia Harper works in Corporate Social Responsibility/Ethics at New Look.

“I enjoyed geography at school as I found it interesting learning about the world – especially places I hadn’t visited. I chose to focus on Human Geography because I wanted to learn more about human relationships with the world, different cultures, international development and University of Reading was one of the universities that offered just a Human Geography degree. On the Open Day, I got the impression that there was so much opportunity for me at Reading and the modules that they offered were so diverse. I also had never been to Reading before so was excited to experience somewhere new.”

 

Career Inspiration

“Throughout my studies I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after graduation, but I always knew I wanted it to be centred around sustainability or helping people. My interest in sustainability developed at quite a young age – I remember that in year 7 I was on the green council and would spend my break times talking to the headmistress about recycling bins!

During my time at university, I chose modules which looked at environmental issues, development, labour markets, economic geography, and cultural geography. Sally Lloyd-Evans’s third-year module Global Justice, Labour and Development first introduced me to the idea of corporate social responsibility/ethical trade. In the module we looked at the responsibility that corporations have for their complex supply chains, welfare of all workers (head office to factory workers) and their impact on the environment. I was shocked to learn about the environmental and ethical issues within supply chains and as I was now aware of these issues, I wanted to be a part of solving them. It was this, and Sally’s passion, that inspired me to work in CSR – I wanted to help those that are often invisible to consumers/corporations and not given an opportunity to voice inequality.”

 

Meeting Heather

“In one of our lectures Sally mentioned that she knew a Reading graduate that now worked at M&S in the ethical trade department, so I asked to meet her. I met with Heather and I asked her what she did day to day and how she got into ethical trade. After our coffee, Heather would check how I was getting on and send me any job roles/work experience that she felt I would be interested in; I eventually landed work experience at New Look in their CSR department soon after graduation.

During my work experience, I was shown the basics such as the Ethical Trade Initiative Base Code (the ethical trade/CSR Ten Commandments!), different country risks, registering factories and suppliers, getting to know the supply base, looking at factory audits, looking at country minimum wages and minimum working ages etc. After two weeks, I was offered a job and have been working at New Look since August 2018. It is definitely an interesting area to work in as there are new challenges emerging all the time and I think as consumers become more aware, ethical trade and sustainability jobs will become vital to all businesses.”

 

Working for a better future

“I’m fortunate that I have been involved with both ethical trade and sustainability aspects of CSR. Most recently my role has focused on the sustainability side of the business, which has involved looking for more sustainable alternatives for our most used materials such as cotton, polyester and viscose. I have spent time engaging with the product teams to educate them on the positive impacts of these alternatives and encouraging them to increase their uptake of more sustainable alternatives in their products.

During my lectures with Sally, I remember learning about the inequalities that female farmers are often subject to, such as financial exclusion and reduced access to land, fertilisers, seeds, training and education. So, by increasing our organic cotton uptake, we are encouraging local farmers to use less toxic pesticides/fertilisers which are damaging to their health. We have also been working with Better Cotton Initiative, a not-for profit, which invests in projects that educate local farmers with better agricultural methods such as more efficient irrigation systems that ultimately increase their cotton yields and provide farmers with a better wage to provide for their families. This impacts women as in many developing countries the majority of agricultural workers are female.”

 

Paying it forward: student mentoring

“In the talk Heather and I recently gave to students, I discussed all the projects that we work on at New Look and what a normal day would be like for me. I think it was interesting for students to see the differences between my job in fashion, more sustainability-based, to Heather’s role in food, more ethical trade based – it highlighted that there is not a one size fits all approach to CSR, each corporation takes a slightly different angle. I also talked about how I got into CSR and what students could do to improve their CVs for a CSR job.

After giving the talk at Reading, I connected with students on LinkedIn so that I could forward job roles/ work experience to them and make sure I was available for students to ask me any questions they may have. Heather and I are hoping to return to Reading in the future to give lectures to more students to help them understand the realities of the industry and give advice on how to get into it. Or at least, raise awareness of the industry and encourage people to make more sustainable and ethical decisions in everyday life.

I think a part of being a mentor is often just being a friendly face as leaving university can be daunting if you don’t know what you want to do or where to start. Most students just need a push in the right direction of where to look for jobs or what a sort of job to apply for then everything falls into place. I also think it’s useful to be in contact with someone that you can relate to as it is likely that you will experience similar setbacks and you are also more likely to approach them for advice. I hope in the future when I am more experienced and established, I could potentially offer students a job or work experience to get them started in the industry. I just feel so grateful for Heather and Sally helping me get to where I am today that I wanted to support other students in a similar way.”

 

Ambitions for the future

“I plan to continue working in ethical trade/CSR within the fashion industry for a few more years as I think so much will change in the near future and enjoy the fast-paced environment. But I think looking further into the future, I would like to work for an NGO or charity which works directly with those in the supply chain such as, farmers, factory workers or homeworkers, as I would love to be involved with the projects that can positively impact them and create fairer working conditions.”

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It is nearly that time of year again for the SAGES PGR Conference. May the 11th and 12th will see 17 third year students present their research to PGR students and staff from the whole school. There will also be posters and powerpoint slides on display from a total of 48 second and first year students. These presentations will be on a range of topics fitting into all of the University’s research themes; Prosperity and Resilience, Food, Health, Environment, and Heritage and creativity. This year in addition to these themes, the conference committee have also introduced sub-topics from the United Nation Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). Many of these goals encapsulate key aims of research across the School and exemplifies the global outreach potential of our School’s research. These sub-topics include; Climate Action, Life on Land, Life Below Water, Responsible Consumption and Production, Clean Water and Sanitation, Good Health and Well-Being, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure to name a few.

Given the disparate topics of research covered in the Conference, the Committee have also invited two external speakers, to reflect the broad academic interests of our research community. We also wanted these talks to reflect different aspects of post-PhD life including securing post-docs, interacting with external and government bodies, and securing funding and grant money to fund research projects. Therefore, Dr Jess Neumann will open the conference on the Thursday morning. Jess completed her PhD in Woodland Biodiversity and Agriculture at the University of Reading in 2014, and currently has a postdoc position looking at whether improved meteorological forecasts lead to more skilful flood forecasts in the Thames at seasonal timescales. To close the conference on the Friday afternoon, Professor Naomi Sykes from the University of Exeter will join us. Professor Sykes’s work has focused on reconstructing bio-cultural histories with an emphasis on presenting her research in a palatable and creative format. She has collaborated closely with a range of non-academic organizations worldwide and has worked with the United Nations towards the sustainable development goals.

We hope this year’s programme will be of great interest to our students and staff alike and showcase the interdisciplinary and world-leading research of our PGR community. For further updates and information on the conference, follow #SAGESPGR18 on Twitter and read the abstracts of talks below.

PGR Conference Abstracts 2018

Nigeria, like many other African countries, is fast recognizing the advantages of a green economy that generates growth and improvements in people’s lives while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. There are several policy documents, and initiatives indicate a willingness to pursue their development goals in ways that leverage the opportunities for green economy transition.

Nigeria’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2020, intends that by 2020, the country will have a strong, diversified, sustainable and competitive economy that effectively harnesses the talents and energies of its people and responsibly exploits its natural endowments to guarantee a high standard of living and quality of life to its citizens. Following the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Nigeria has submitted a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which commits the country to 45% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The policies and measures aimed at delivering this reduction include improving energy efficiency, forest conservation, rural electrification, and putting an end to gas flaring. There is also an ambitious commitment to achieve 35,500 MW of energy by 2030 from renewable energy sources.

However, despite all these laudable goals, huge gaps exist in the form of the capacity and skills needed to realise these stated ambitions and commitments. Indeed many scholars and practitioners have identified lack of or limited capacity as one of the critical barriers hindering the transition to green growth in Africa.

As a measure to kick-start a more systematic identification of existing and additional capacities to achieve Nigeria’s green growth aspirations, the University of Reading, UK under the Global Challenges Research Fund, sponsored a highly interactive consultative workshop titled “Capacity Gap Assessment for Green Economy Transition in Africa: Case Study of Nigeria.” The project leader was Chukwumerije Okereke, Professor of Environment and Development at the Department of Geography and Environmental Science and Associate Director of Reading University Centre on Climate and Justice. The workshop which held at Federal Capacity Territory in Abuja Sandralia Hotel in Abuja and drew a total of 53 technical officers from public and private sectors, and civil societies. Representatives from the donor community such as the European Union and GIZ were also in attendance. The Nigerian workshop was the second of this kind of workshop, the first having been held in Nairobi Kenya on March 12, 2018.

The workshop in Nigeria created an avenue for a structured reflection and group discussion over the historical and current green growth policy making and low carbon projects implementation with a focus on human and technical capacity. The focus was on six sectors including Agriculture, Transport, Forestry, Energy, Industry, and Sustainable Cities.

At the workshop, participants agreed that Nigeria’s economy development pathways were undergoing rapid modifications in line with the global commitment to low carbon development. It was however also noted that Nigeria’s ability to maximally benefit from the opportunities offered by green growth is being constrained by limited by capacity gaps at institutional, organisational and individual levels. Some of the critical gaps identified during the workshop relate to policy formulation, stakeholder engagement, emission accounting, financial management, mainstreaming, mini-grid design, energy auditing, impact assessment, solar PVC installation, and monitoring and evaluation.

Some of the key barriers identified include weak legal and policy frameworks, institutional fragmentation, lack of policy continuity, and low private sector participation.

Participants stressed the need for a much more comprehensive green capacity auditing followed with clear targets, an ambitious programme with adequate incentives to close the gaps. The need for stronger partnership between academia, the government and private sectors in the pursuit of green innovation was also stressed. As green skills deployed to undertake green jobs is a critical plank in the green growth transition, it was emphasised that Nigeria should aim to create “an army” of green workers proficient in the wide-ranging set of skills needed to enable the country meet its target of attaining a sustainable economic vision.

Professor Chuks Okereke, the leader of the project, says:

“I am delighted that my project has contributed to exposing the need for capacity building for green growth transition in Nigeria and Africa more broadly. It is clear that a lot more work is needed to undertake a more dedicated and comprehensive capacity gap assessment. My team is developing a template which we hope will help Nigeria and other African governments to understand a systematic capacity assessment for green growth transition. We are working towards making the template available in the next three months.”

The Director of Climate Change Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr Peter Tarfa says:

“I thank Professor Chuks Okereke and the University of Reading for funding this very timely workshop on capacity gap assessment for green growth in Nigeria. The Federal government has demonstrated a very strong commitment to tacking climate change and pursing the green economy. The government submitted an ambitious NDC and has also embarked on a very successful green bond initiative to raise money for green projects in Nigeria. Government is keen to work with the academia and private sector to make the green economy a success in Nigeria. I very much look forward to receiving and working with the capacity gap analysis template that is being produced by Professor Okereke and his team.”

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Researchers from the University of Reading in the UK held a fruitful and stimulating workshop on “capacity needs assessment for green economy transition in Africa” at Nairobi Kenya on March 12, 2018.

The workshop which held in the Hilton hotel was attended by academics from the University of Nairobi and technical officers from public and private sectors, as well as civil societies organizations that are involved in planning and implementing green growth initiatives in Kenya. The workshop was funded by the University of Reading UK under the Global Research Strategic Fund. The Project is led by Professor Chukwumerije Okereke who is from the Department of Geography and Environmental Science and Associate Director of Reading University Center for Climate and Justice with contributions from Scientists from Oxford Brookes University and African Technology Policy Studies in Nairobi.

The workshop featured presentations, survey questionnaire completion, focus groups and structured reflection over green growth policymaking and implementation in Kenya with a focus on human and technical capacity.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and African Agenda 2063 in 2015 by African Governments had come against a backdrop of rising economy in many African countries. However, despite notable gains in recent years, economic growth has not translated into reduction in poverty and inequality.  At the same time, it is widely recognized that the current reliance on finite natural resource extraction to power African economic development is unsustainable in the long run.  Moreover, Africa’s economic development is being hampered by climate change with its negative impact on food production and extra cost imposed on infrastructural development.  Hence business-as-usual models of growth is no longer a viable option for Africa in the face of growing environmental scarcities, economic uncertainty, and widespread poverty.

Green growth is a recent global phenomenon and much-lauded pathway for achieving economic transformation, climate resilience, and inclusive, sustainable development.  Green growth is a relatively new approach for policymakers and businesses in Africa. While there are a few notable promising steps, African countries are mostly yet to understand and exploit the various opportunities for developing the green economy across the scale from national, through the regional level.  Scholars and policymakers alike have regularly asserted that lack of or limited capacity is a significant barrier hindering the transition to green growth in Kenya and Africa more broadly.  However, there is insufficient understanding of the range of skills (both indigenous and external) that is needed to achieve green economy transition in Africa.

For example, Kenya’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030, seeks to transform the country into an industrializing, middle-income country that offers a high quality of life to all people in a clean and secure environment by 2030. Kenya aims to increase annual GDP growth rates to 10% and to maintain that average till 2030.  Key programs include the massive development of solar, geothermal energy, increased mechanization of agriculture, green industrialization and innovation, and better monitoring of forests to enhance biological conversation and diversity.   However, like most other African countries there is limited capacity to transform this grand visions into reality.

A principal rationale for the workshop is that a critical condition for improving capacity is to generate a clear and robust framework that can help policymakers and other stakeholders to assess their capacity needs systematically. In the workshop, the participants were presented with an analytical framework for green growth transition which is being developed by Professor Okereke and his research team.  The analytical framework which is adapted from the UNDP’s generic model identifies five functional capacity areas needed for green growth transitioning in Africa and more broadly. These include strategy and policy formulation, project design and implementation, stakeholder engagement, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation.

Participants were invited to rank the capacity strengths and needs of their sectors based on the above five functional capacity areas. Their rankings were subsequently discussed alongside in-depth deliberation on what can be done to accelerate capacity building and mobilization for green transitioning in Africa.

A similar workshop is planned in Abuja Nigeria on March 26 after which the results will be collated and published in a short report.  It is hoped that the project will result in the development of a green capacity template that will improve national green capacity auditing and assessment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Okereke says, “I am very thankful to the University of Reading or funding this project. I am very much looking forward to the forthcoming workshop in Nigeria. I am very hopeful that the project will contribute to an understanding of steps that are needed to help accelerate capacity development for green transiting in Africa.”

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Meet our #UoRWomen!

To mark International Women’s Day this year, we asked some of our brilliant staff to answer a few questions about their research, their career highlights, and their inspirations. Read on for a selection…

Dr Macarena L. Cárdenas

Research/teaching specialisation

Paleoecology

What made you choose this area?

I am interested in the environment and particularly on the vegetation. I just love getting to know how the vegetation changes, how it evolves within itself, and how it relates and responds to factors such as the climate and human influence. This area gives me the possibility to not just look at those interactions, but also to reveal how they were in the past, and throughout time.

What advice would you have for young women wanting to become involved in this area?

To keep a large perspective and stay present with the issues that is happening today to the environment that can be understood by studying the past. To engage with not just the topics that are relevant but also, and actually quite importantly, with the people and environment affected by these issues. Also, to do multidisciplinary research, as one proxy will let you know what the other doesn’t want to!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I am a multi-passionate, so I never get bored if it happens that I have free time. Some of the things I do are: going to open and wild places for hiking, yoga, meditation, exercise, talking and visiting with family and friends,  dancing, crafting, painting and making jewellery. I also have great fun with experimental cooking in the safety (for others) of my home.

Who inspired you to get to where you are now?

My mother. She is my inspiration for courage, strength and sensitivity. She just goes for things no matter what obstacles she may find.  She always said to me: “do whatever you love the most and don’t let it go. No matter what it is, no matter how crazy that may look like for others. If it makes you happy, just do it”. And so I did! (although it is certainly crazy).

 

Professor Anne Verhoef

Research/teaching specialisation:

Environmental physics, with emphasis on soil-plant-atmosphere systems

 What made you choose this area?

Great interest in soil from the age of 14. Studied Soil Science (specialisation soil physics), followed by micrometeorology (Phd)

Was there a moment when you realised that you had become successful academic / research staff?

A number of grant successes in a row not long after I started. Wide-ranging and original teaching portfolio ~5 few years after starting.

What is an exciting development currently in your area?

Combination of novel environmental physics instrumentation (including remote sensing) combined with state of the art process modelling to answer many societally pressing issues.

What advice would you have for young women wanting to become involved in this area?

Follow your scientific interests and passions first and foremost, don’t just take the path of least resistance (e.g. where you have the best GCSE & A-level grades)

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Very little time left…: running, outdoor swimming, gardening

Who inspired you to get to where you are now?

I don’t believe much in (male or female) role models, the thirst for knowledge needs to come from within the young scientist. Lecturers that motivated me during my studies where those who conveyed that passion, not those with necessarily the most advanced lecture slides/notes or best-run practical classes.

 

Dr Hazel McGoff

Research/teaching specialisation:

Teaching geology – Earth processes and history and the resources that we use

What made you choose this area?

It is a practical subject that involves fieldwork, good observation skills and the ability to visualise and imagine processes in space and time.

Was there a moment when you realised that you had become successful academic / research staff?

When my students start teaching me things! Hopefully this means they have enthusiasm for the subject and good knowledge. A great foundation for a career.

What is an exciting development currently in your area?

On a local scale – Chloe Knight, one of our final year students has been researching the meteorite collection that is here in the University of Reading – its geology, the chemistry of the specimens and the history of the collection. We hope to submit a short paper for publication later in the summer.

What advice would you have for young women wanting to become involved in this area?

Go for it – do what interests you most and enjoy it. Learn as much science as you can and appreciate the links between all the different disciplines.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Spending time with my horses.

Who inspired you to get to where you are now?

  1. My friend Dave Prior – now Professor of Geology in Otago University in New Zealand – he brings great energy, enthusiasm and scientific expertise to everything he does.
  2. My PhD supervisor, Derek Briggs – now Professor at the Peabody Museum, Yale, USA – who encouraged all his students to develop their research projects and take them in whatever direction was appropriate.
  3. Isabella Bird – an intrepid Victorian explorer and the first woman to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

 

Dr Liz Shaw

Research/teaching specialisation:

Soil microbiology and biochemistry

What made you choose this area?

My A-level Geography teacher, Mrs Allison (Cottingham High School), first inspired my interest in soil and then my MSc tutor (later PhD supervisor, Richard Burns) inspired my interest in soil microbiology.

Was there a moment when you realised that you had become successful academic / research staff?

There has been no one defining moment but there have been some successes (my appointment to a lectureship, winning my first research grant, promotion, positive feedback from students) that I have celebrated.

What is an exciting development currently in your area?

New molecular and biogeochemical methodologies that when combined can be used to overcome the problems of understanding what non-culturable microscopic organisms living in an opaque environment (soil) are doing!

Who inspired you to get to where you are now?

My research area inspires me but I am supported in this by my parents, my partner, my son, my friends and key colleagues and collaborators.

 

Dr Beena Balan Sarojini

Research/teaching specialisation

Climate Scientist specialised in Ocean, Atmosphere and Land surface of the Earth.

What made you choose this area?

I loved Physics and Geography in School and I am a nature lover. At the University level I got to know about courses on learning more about the physics of Earth and its climate.

Was there a moment when you realised that you had become successful academic / research staff?

Several moments at different stages of my research career: 1) When I gave my debut international presentation at the European Geophysical Union’s annual conference, 2) When the main article on my PhD study got published in a peer-reviewed journal, and 3) When I got invited to contribute to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2013

What is an exciting development currently in your area?

How the representation of soil-plant processes in a climate model can improve the prediction of climate and extreme events like droughts and floods.

What advice would you have for young women wanting to become involved in this area?

Find the right course for you at the University. Get, set and go!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Swimming, yoga and having fun with my daughter.

Who inspired you to get to where you are now?

My mother who encouraged me and my sister to study as much as we wanted which was not possible for girls at the time when she was studying.

 

Dr Avril Maddrell

I work in Social and Cultural Geography, with particular research interests in the Geographies of death, sacred mobilities and gender.

I am currently an Editor of two international journals Gender, Place and Culture and Social and Cultural Geography. I have really appreciated those occasions when Editors have helped me make the most of my research findings in papers, and now enjoy being an Editor myself; its always rewarding when authors write to say that reviewer and editorial guidance has helped them develop their arguments and showcase their research.

I will be starting a new large AHRC-ESRC research project on March 13th Deathscapes and Diversity: Planning for minorities’ and migrants’ bodily remains, ritual and remembrance practice with Yasminah Beebeejaun (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL) and Katie McClymont, (UWE Bristol) and the two project postdoctoral research associates: Danny McNally and Brenda Mattijssen (University of Reading).

International Women’s Day

Avril will be speaking at the University of Stockholm on 8th March as part of the book launch symposium for Contemporary Encounters in Gender and Religion. European perspectives (Palgrave 2016) with Swedish Co-Editors Lena Gemzoe and Marja-Liisa Keinnanen.

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Congratulations to GES PhD students Anna Freeman and Rebecca Emerton for winning prizes in the 2016 Graduate School Research Image competition and Graduate School Research Poster competitions respectively.

Anna Freeman

Congratulations to GES PhD student Anna Freeman (supervisor Andrew Wade), who won First Prize in the Graduate School Research Image competition 2016, for her entry ‘Big world in a small drop’, which featured a stunning microscope photograph of zooplankton from Farmoor reservoir, near Oxford. Anna received her award at the Graduate School Doctoral Research conference in June. Well done Anna!

The Universirty of Reading Graduate School Doctoral Conference 2106.

The University of Reading Graduate School Doctoral Conference 2016.

 

Rebecca Emerton

Congratulations to GES PhD student Rebecca Emerton (supervisor Hannah Cloke), who won First Prize in the Graduate School Research Poster competition 2016, for her poster entitled ‘El Nino as a predictor of flood hazard’. Rebecca received her award at the Graduate School Doctoral Research conference in June. The standard of posters in this competition was extremely high, but the judges were impressed by the clarity with which Rebecca was able to present complex science. Well done Rebecca!

The Universirty of Reading Graduate School Doctoral Conference 2106.

The University of Reading Graduate School Doctoral Conference 2016.

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The Andes present an ideal learning space to draw lessons on existing and emerging resilience challenges and opportunities. Andean people and societies have co-evolved with the unique high-mountain contexts in which they live, sometimes in altitudes of more than 3800 m. Although historical achievements including irrigation systems, domestication of cameloids (llama and alpaca) and crop preservation techniques facilitated the development of ancient civilisations in the Andes, modern Andean people face serious challenges in achieving food security and wellbeing.

A new Special Issue co-edited by Dr Giuseppe Feola and Dr Diana Sietz (Wageningen University) aims to improve our understanding of the key dynamics of socio-ecological systems that constrain or foster resilience in the rural Andes. The Special Issue, published in the journal Regional Environmental Change, comprises six papers that investigate three core features of resilience in a variety of socio-ecological systems: diversity, connectivity and development models. The novel insights into resilience dynamics include specific features related to the high-mountain contexts and socio-political tensions in the Andes. Future research can build on this knowledge to further not only resilience theory but also methodological approaches which reflect both case-specific and generic complexity.

Papers included in this Special Issue:

Sietz, D. and Feola, G. (2016) Resilience in the rural Andes: Critical dynamics, constraints and emerging opportunities. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-016-1053-9

Vallejo-Rojas, V., Ravera, F. and Rivera-Ferre, MG. (2016) Developing an integrated framework to assess agri-food systems and its application in the Ecuadorian Andes. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-015-0887-x

Doughty, CA. (2016) Building climate change resilience through local cooperation: a Peruvian Andes case study. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-015-0882-2

Zimmerer, K. and Rojas Vaca, H. (2016) Fine-grain spatial patterning and dynamics of land use and agrobiodiversity amid global changes in the Bolivian Andes. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-015-0897-8

Montaña, E., Diaz, H. and Hurlbert, M. (2016) Development, local livelihoods, and vulnerabilities to global environmental change in the South American Dry Andes. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-015-0888-9

Chelleri, L., Minucci, G. and Skrimizea, E. (2016) Does community resilience decrease social-ecological vulnerability? Adaptation pathways trade-off in the Bolivian Altiplano. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-016-1046-8

Easdale, MH., Aguiar, MR. and Paz, R. (2016) A social–ecological network analysis of Argentinean Andes transhumant pastoralism. http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs10113-015-0917-8

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MikeGoodman_wProfessor Mike Goodman has been quoted by the Christian Science monitor in a recent article examining celebrity activism after Leonardo DiCaprio participated in a White House discussion on climate change. Research suggests that when people are exposed to a celebrity endorsing a cause, their main takeaway may not be the message itself but rather a desire to do more research on the issue themselves, says Mike: “They’re not necessarily picking up what these people say verbatim, but it gets them interested enough that they go out and look for further information.”

Read the article here: http://bit.ly/2dtJKEN

Over the Easter break more than 100 students and staff from the Geography & Environmental Science department set off to explore Berlin, Naples or Crete for their annual field classes. Topics discussed ranged from the social production of history, contested urban space and the ‘transition’ movement in Berlin; exploring the volcanic activity near Mount Vesuvius; and the interaction between humans and the environment, tourism and biogeography in Crete.

Our staff and students documented their adventures on social media, so check out the Storify posts below for a real taste of what they got up to!

Berlin

Crete

Naples

Naples

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