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.


  • Gangavasi Episode 3 premiers in Kwale County
    28 January 2019

    In 2015 as part of our AXA-funded project, You, Me and Our Resilience, we developed a Forum-Theatre performance, Gangavasi to explore resilience to extreme weather events with communities on the south Kenya Coast. Your can view a short film about the project here. Led by S.A.F.E. Pwani, part of S.A.F.E. Kenya, Gangavasi was based on people’s… Read More

  • Moving Climate Change beyond a ‘Tragedy of the Commons’
    04 January 2019

    Garret Hardin’s influential essay the Tragedy of the Commons was first published 50 years ago, in December 1968. Hardin argued that global human population was on a path of unsustainable growth through the use of a parable of over-grazing of livestock on common land. The concept of ‘the tragedy of the commons’ largely assumes that individuals… Read More

  • A Basic Needs approach to understanding conservation impacts on multidimensional poverty
    28 November 2018

    Conservation designations are widely promoted to provide benefits not only to global biodiversity but also in terms of a host of ecosystem services – such as the income local people accrue from tourism associated with the World Heritage site at Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park in the Philippines, shown in the photo above.  Our latest paper… Read More

  • Transformation: Smoke and Mirrors or Muck and Magic?
    12 November 2018

    Transformation is everywhere, it seems, in sustainability debates. Transformation is a double-edged sword – clearly global environmental change will transform our world and the lives of future generations. And to avoid the worst possible outcomes, we must transform our current use of resources and distribution of wealth and power. Transformation is messy and complex, and… Read More

  • 100th Dies Natalis – Celebrations at Wageningen
    15 April 2018

    On 9 March 2018 Wageningen University & Research celebrated its 100th Dies Natalis, marking 100 years of Wageningen research and education excellence. The event kicked off a whole year of events. As part of the celebrations I had a the great honour of being awarded an honorary doctorate. The photo left shows me on the stage receiving… Read More

  • Stimulating a constructive dialogue with Social Sciences and Social Ecological Resilience
    15 April 2018

    Five years ago a group of us, led by Samantha Stone-Jovicich (CSIRO, Australia), and including Per Olsson (Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden), Bruce Goldstein (University of Colorado Boulder, US) and Ryan Plummer (Brock University, Canada) proposed a special issue of Ecology and Society on the topic of Exploring Social-Ecological Resilience through the Lens of the Social… Read More

  • Community Resilience as Emergent
    27 February 2018

    New findings from MAGIC project published Community Resilience is conventionally understood as a set of inter-linked capacities, including leadership, social capital, access to information, infrastructure etc. But we know that resilience is not just the straightforward sum of these constituent capacities that determines – rather it is emergent of them. This observation has been made… Read More

  • Adaptive Capacity – what do we know and where are the research frontiers?
    27 February 2018

    New paper published in Nature Climate Change Climate change is having serious impacts on many people around the globe, and particularly on the World’s poor. Although there is substantial global funding for climate adaptation, little is known about how people’s capacity to adapt can be bolstered.  Josh Cinner from Centre for Coral Reef Studies led… Read More

  • A Decade of Resilience Research – in six ‘Ps’
    08 September 2017

    My keynote talk at the recent Resilience 2017 conference gave a brief overview of last decade of research on resilience in social ecological systems. It highlighted the areas where the field has expanded to at the interdisciplinary interface with social sciences, and then posed some urgent challenges for SES resilience researchers. You can watch my… Read More

  • The Drama of the Resilience
    26 April 2017

    Our latest paper is titled ‘The drama of resilience: learning, doing and sharing for sustainability’ and is newly published in the journal Ecology and Society – you can access it here. The paper explores the use of participatory and community theatre to understand how different people in different places deal with change, and how they… Read More

  • Launching the MAGIC Pathfinder puzzle
    15 March 2017

    On Monday 6th March we proudly launched our decision support tool, the MAGIC Pathfinder puzzle, to a small and select group of our project participants at ESI in Penryn Cornwall. The very beautiful puzzle, fashioned from oak, is a product from our MAGIC project which has been investigating coastal adaptation and maladaptation. Through the course… Read More

  • Learning about social ecological trade-offs
    07 February 2017

    Diego Galafassi from Stockolm Resilience Centre led us through a really interesting reflective process to analyse how people’s understanding changed and what they learnt about trade-offs in the workshops we had conducted in our earlier ESPA project ;Participatory modelling of wellbeing trade-offs in coastal Kenya’ (other wise know as Pmowtick see here ). The photo shows… Read More