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Message posted on 16/07/2021

[PhD advert] Governing professions for net-zero

Dear colleagues - I'd be grateful if you could pass the below PhD opportunity onto your Masters students. Unfortunately only those currently based in the UK are able to apply. Noting the tight timelines, too! With best wishes, Chris.


PhD advert - 'Governing professional practice and culture in delivering ambitious net-zero carbon goals'

Supervisors: Dr Chris Foulds, Dr David Arkell, Prof. Aled Jones, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK; to be based in ARU's Global Sustainability Institute. Application deadline: 31 July 2021.

Start date: September 2021, with possibility of delaying to January 2022 for right candidate.

Funding: fully funded (UKRI-equivalent annual stipend + UK student fee waiver

  • additional study expenses) for 3 years.

More information available here.

The PhD opportunity:

It is essential that government zero-carbon commitments rest on a bedrock of professional practice and culture that effectively ensures that commitments are both feasible and ambitious. Research has reiterated the importance of carefully thinking through approaches to engaging professionals on such issues. For example, what sorts of professional knowledge, networks, cultures and expectations are required to adequately develop - and, critically, implement - a shared and truly ambitious net-zero vision? What communities of practice are needed to make this happen? How can professions and professionals organise themselves? What roles may exist, for example, for gatekeeper, brokering and intermediary organisations? Ultimately, what forms of professional participation are needed to help achieve a socially-just low-carbon energy transition?

As such, this PhD will specifically explore inclusive and cross-sectorial ways in which professionals can come together to successfully (and fairly) embed private, public, third sector and citizens' needs into local-to-regional governance agendas. We expect the PhD to undertake mainly qualitative research (e.g. interviews, participant observation, workshops, etc.), as part of interacting closely with our case study partners. This PhD extends the formative work done by researchers in ARU's Global Sustainability Institute around, for example, Transitions Management approaches to local sustainability challenges.

This PhD will focus on Essex County Council's Net Zero Innovation Network (NZIN) as a case study. The aim of NZIN is to support partnerships and drive innovation, helping Essex achieve its target of being a net zero carbon emissions county by 2050. There is a particular focus on themes emerging from the Essex Climate Action Commission including: transport, energy, waste and the built environment. Essex County Council has set up these groups to support a bold ambition to deliver real change now that will lead to long term action.

A supervisory team and reference group will deliver crucial added value and participation, and transdisciplinary insight and direction. It is envisaged that Essex County Council will join the PhD supervisory teams as industry/government professionals. This is one of two funded PhD positions with Essex County Council; the other will be based in ARU's Faculty of Business and Law, in partnership with ARU's Global Sustainability Institute.

The successful candidate will have a social science background at ideally the Masters level (e.g. Human Geography, Sociology, Science & Technology Studies, Innovation Studies, Environmental Social Sciences, Sustainability Studies). Experience of collecting and analysing qualitative data will be favoured.

The Global Sustainability Institute (GSI):

Over the past 10 years, the GSI has built a global reputation for delivering research impact and high-quality interdisciplinary publications across a broad range of sustainability issues. We have received funding from six of the seven UK Research Councils (ESRC, EPSRC, NERC, AHRC, BBSRC, STFC). We have also led and supported several high-profile EU projects including SHAPE ENERGY, Energy-SHIFTS, MEDEAS, RRING, Energy in Water, amongst others, and also been part of major centres such as the ESRC's Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity and EPSRC's EnergyREV. The GSI has a particular interest in research that has the potential for real-world impact, and thus has a wide portfolio of applied projects that focus on working with e.g. European Commission, UK Government, local authorities, charities and NGOs, business and industry, etc.

Further details:

   This PhD opportunity is part of an ARU partnership with Essex County

Council, who are co-funding two PhD positions. It is anticipated that the two PhD Researchers will benefit greatly from working alongside one another and from having access to Essex County Council's impressive local networks. We also anticipate that there will be plenty of scope for driving local impact through the PhD research.

   Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Dr Chris

Foulds (chris.foulds@anglia.ac.uk) to discuss the PhD opportunity further.

   The annual stipend will track UKRI levels across the three years,

which was set at 15,609/year for 2021-2022.

   This full-time PhD Studentship is open to only UK student applicants

(although does include those with e.g. pre-settled status that have lived in the UK for 3+ years), due to the size of the fee waiver on offer.


Dr Chris Foulds Principal Research Fellow Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT, UK.

T: (+44) 1223 69 5112 | E: chris.foulds@aru.ac.uk | Twitter: @DrChrisFoulds

Further info: Personal webpage LinkedIn GSI GSI's Consumption & Change Selected projects: SHAPE ENERGY Energy-SHIFTS
Energy-PIECES RRING

Energy in Water

Recent selected publications: Energy justice in the developing world: a review of theoretical frameworks, key research themes and policy implications (Energy for Sustainable Development, 2020) Expanding the scope and implications of energy research: A guide to key themes from the Social Sciences and Humanities (Energy Research & Social Science, 2020) Diversifying diversity: Inclusive engagement, intersectionality, and gender identity in a European Social Sciences and Humanities Energy research project (Energy Research & Social Science, 2020) An approach to identifying future Social Sciences & Humanities energy research priorities for Horizon Europe: Working Group guidelines for systematic Horizon Scanning (Energy-SHIFTS, 2019) Use of evidence in energy policy: the roles, capacities and expectations of Social Sciences and Humanities (Energy-SHIFTS, 2019) Advancing energy policy: Lessons on the integration of Social Sciences and Humanities (eds.) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) -- Please click here to view our e-mail disclaimer http://www.aru.ac.uk/email-disclaimer


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