Understanding our responses to environmental change

Welcome to my website!
I am Professor of Social Science at the University of Exeter in southwest UK. I am fascinated by how people and communities respond to change – how they perceive and understand change, embrace and resist change, and have different capacities to deal with change. Much of my work focuses on social responses to environmental change, but I try to understand this within the context of other changes – in culture, economy, technology and knowledge.

Find out more about me, my book, the projects I’m currently working on and the people I work with.


  • Book cover
    Resilience, Development and Global Change – NEW book published!
    22 January 2016

    My new book: Resilience, Development and Global Change, has been published by Routledge. You can see further details here. I became interested in resilience because as a concept it brought a perspective on understanding change that accounts for uncertainty and non-linearity, which better reflects the realities of rapidly changing world. It provided a way of… Read More

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    Kenya to Cornwall – exploring community resilience to climate change.
    16 November 2015

    As part of our AXA Outlook project: You, Me and our Resilience, we were excited and fortunate to host an immensely rewarding visit of 8 actors from S.A.F.E Kenya, along with Founder and Director Nick Reding, to Cornwall in late September. We had planned a busy itinerary for our S.A.F.E Kenya visitors who arrived in… Read More

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    Weather the Storm
    04 October 2015

    Two really significant events recently in our AXA-funded project “You, me and our Resilience’. Our collaborators from SAFE Pwani visited Cornwall, and the production by GoldenTree coincided on Sunday 27 September in Porthleven. Both the companies have been exploring how people can respond to severe weather in the context of other coastal changes. In Kenya… Read More

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    You me and our resilience – thoughts from Kenya…
    08 July 2015

    In April our AXA Outlook research team collaborated with Kenyan based theatre company S.A.F.E Kenya to develop a production to explore some of the key issues around community responses to extreme weather and climate change in Kenyan’s coastal communities. These issues had been identified in earlier interviews and focus groups meetings in communities along the… Read More

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    Does conservation may make local communities more vulnerable to climate and other environmental changes?
    08 June 2015

    A new paper in Global Environmental Change, co-authored with Isabel Ruiz-Mallén and other team members from the Institute of Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònomia de Barcelona in Spain, examines how conservation regulations influence the vulnerability of local communities and their opportunities and capacities for adaptation. The paper reports findings from the EU-funded international… Read More

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    How can we tackle Taboo Trade-offs in development and sustainable resource management? New paper in PNAS
    02 June 2015

    Decisions about sustainable natural resource management often entail weighing up seemingly incommensurate factors. These have profound implications for poverty alleviation and for poor people. Decisions about who has access and can benefit from natural resources, and what this means for conservation require careful balancing. These are the kinds of dilemmas that confront conservation planners developing… Read More

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    Politics and the Selection of Ecosystem Services
    27 April 2015

    New Book Chapter Oonsie (Reinette) Biggs and colleagues have recently published an edited book ‘Principles for Building Resilience’ which critically examines and tests some of the assumptions about resilience in social ecological systems. I co-authored a chapter, (Chapter 2) on ‘Politics and the Selection of Ecosystem Services’ and was lucky to work with really gifted… Read More

    Exploring Well-being, Community Resilience, Governance, Place, Identity and Culture in the Great Barrier Reef
    27 April 2015

    Early Career Researcher Workshop Townville and Magnetic Island 23 March – 3 April 2015 We convened a truly inspiring two weeks with co-researchers from ESI, University of Exeter, CSIRO and Centre for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. We used the example of the Great Barrier Reef, and CSIRO’s Socio-Economic Long-term Monitoring Project (SELTMP)… Read More

  • What good(s) are ecosystem services? – can they help address Australia’s sustainability challenges ?
    20 March 2015

    I gave a seminar at ARC Centre for Excellence on Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Queensland Australia on 5th March. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of the scientists here in the past few years, including Terry Hughes, Christina Hicks, Nick Graham and Josh Cinner. The centre is just… Read More

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    Do ecosystem services approaches change conservation?
    16 December 2014

    My latest paper with Janet Fisher published in Ecological Economics seeks to empirically address this question. The paper uses Q method and qualitative interviews with representatives of international and Ugandan conservation organisations. Our analysis finds that ecosystem services concepts are often adopted for instrumental imperatives, in order to broaden constituencies and with an expectation of… Read More

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    How can we build resilience to extreme weather?
    28 November 2014

    The Royal Society Report ‘Resilience to Extreme Weather’ was launched today – you can access the report and summaries and some interactive maps from the Royal Society website  here I’ve been working on the report for past year alongside distinguished international scientists chaired by the highly esteemed Professor Georgina Mace FRS. Key findings of the report… Read More

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    Why Social Equity Matters in Payments for Ecosystem Services
    10 October 2014

    In a new article, published this week in BioScience, we highlight the importance of equity in Payment for Ecosystem Services schemes. Led by Unai Pascual from Basque Foundation for Science and Basque Centre for Climate Change, and with a distinguished international group of scholars, we reviewed the experience of schemes around the world, examining them… Read More