University of St Andrews


Tom Smith

Photo of Tom Smith


Supervisors:  Dr Louise Reid & Dr Emilia Ferraro


Research Title

Do good lives have to cost the earth? Crafting sustainable well-being


My research is an ethnographic study of the contribution of contemporary amateur craft spaces – maker spaces, hack labs and grassroots craft initiatives - to achieving the so-called 'double dividend' in sustainable development – the target of simultaneously achieving improved well-being and sustainability. My analysis particularly engages with non-representational theory, philosophical Pragmatism, practice and theories of performativity, and the so-called ‘new materialism’.


I grew up in Ireland where I obtained a first-class honours B.Sc. (hons) International Development and Food Policy, a first-class honours M.A. in Global Ethics (Philosophy & Sociology), both at University College Cork (UCC), as well as a British Permaculture Association permaculture design certificate (PDC). My interests engage with environmental ethics, participatory and ethnographic methodologies, non-representational theory, material agency, qualitative approaches to well-being research, and I work at the nexus between sustainable development and philosophies of nature.

In Ireland I co-founded an ongoing low-impact living/practical sustainability experiment in Galway, Ireland, with The Moneyless Man, Mark Boyle. An Teach Saor (The Free House) is a vibrant three-acre small-holding consisting of a coppice woodland (hazel, willow, sweet chestnut), forest garden, two polytunnels, small-scale poultry, an experimental nut orchard, and much more. It's also home to a large crowd-funded natural building, The Happy Pig, functioning as a community hub and free teaching space for ecological skills.

As of 2015 I'm an editor at Dark Mountain Books, recently co-editing their Technê (2015) anthology, which brings together crucial thinkers on technology, objects, skill and environmentalism in the modern world, including David Graeber, Paul Kingsnorth and Bill McKibben.