University of St Andrews

Environment and Society Research Group

The core focus of the ESRG is to push the boundaries of the concepts, meanings and practices of sustainable development (SD), thereby exploring new avenues of enquiry into the relationships between society and environment. Reflecting the multi-dimensional and increasingly nuanced nature of sustainability debates, and the need for cross-disciplinary and integrative research and practice approaches, we are diverse in background, questioning and developing conceptual frameworks that connect, for example, traditions in ecology, geography, planning, political science and social anthropology to the ideas, policies and implementation mechanisms of SD.

We recognise difference too amongst communities of interest, sectors and cultures, and work with people and agencies around the world, including Scotland, other parts of the UK, Africa, the EU, Latin America and the South Pacific, to understand their aspirations and priorities, co-generating new knowledge and insights to improve well-being. We are inspired by such diversity and the opportunities these experiences bring to enhance our own learning, helping us to reflect on and refine our innovative and internationally-recognised teaching programmes in SD.

We employ a wide array of quantitative, qualitative, participatory and action research techniques, welcoming opportunities to adopt mixed methods approaches, adapted to meet specific research needs. This diversity of expertise helps us to build bridges; for example, drawing in School colleagues from PHRG and ECRG in discussions and projects, and we work closely with the St Andrews Sustainability Institute (SASI) to further interdisciplinary research across the University.

Our purpose is to advance internationally excellent SD research and practice, and we celebrate the strengths that our diversity brings; strengths recognised by the University through a commitment to building scholarly capacity in SD. Within the School, the following academic staff lead the particular SD focus of ESRG research:

  • Emilia Ferraro: the role of culture in SD; indigenous cosmologies of SD; knowledge production and ways of knowing; links between craft and SD
  • Louise Reid: sustainable/pro-environment behaviour; personal well-being and interactions with nature; housing and environmental sustainability
  • Rehema White: theory and practice of sustainable development; biodiversity conflicts; education for sustainability; craft and sustainability

Select this link for a list of current PhD projects offered by our group.