I am Co-Director of Research for the Institute for Science and Society (ISS) and Chair of the Research Ethics Committee, in the School of Sociology and Social Policy.
After completing my PhD (STS & Environmental Policy) at Griffith University, Australia, I moved to the UK to take up a position at the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), University of Westminster. I moved to the University of Nottingham in 2007, joining ISS when it was a standalone Institute, before spending a year in the Faculty of Engineering, then returning to the School of Sociology and Social Policy.
I have received funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), British Council, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), European Commission, King Baudouin Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, Medical Research Council (MRC), Sciencewise and the Wellcome Trust.
My work explores methods and processes for opening up energy governance and innovation for sustainability and development. The ways in which meanings of sustainability and transition are discussed, understood and materialised by different stakeholders to uncover the plurality of values and interests and considerations of power and politics is a core focus of this work.
My research is situated at the nexus between energy, the environment and society. Integrating perspectives from Science and Technology Studies (STS) with concepts from human geography, my research… read more
PATRICIA THORNLEY and ALISON MOHR, 2017. Policy Frameworks and Supply Chain Accounting. In: CLAIR GOUGH, PATRICIA THORNLEY, SARAH MANDER, NAOMI VAUGHAN and TEMITOPE FALANO, eds., Biomass Energy and Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS): Unlocking Negative Emissions (In Press.)
A. MOHR, O. SHORTALL, R. HELLIWELL and S. RAMAN, 2016. How Should Land Be Used? Bioenergy and Responsible Innovation in Agricultural Systems. In: I. GORDON, G. SQUIRE and H. PRIN, eds., Food Production and Nature Conservation: Conflicts and Solutions Earthscan (Routledge). 204-222
Because STS research is grounded in real-world problems, I consider it imperative that my teaching is research-led. I draw on my own and colleagues' research to demonstrate practical cases with real-world complexities. Because of the broad range of disciplines represented in each class it is important to use case studies that reflect their interests and knowledge base. Maintaining the relevance of case studies for each cohort of students is important.
I convene the following modules:
- Climate Change and Society (L33780)
I lecture on the following modules:
- Innovation and Society (L34113)
- Energy Systems and Policy (L34118)
- Science and Society (C136SS)
My research is situated at the nexus between energy, the environment and society. Integrating perspectives from Science and Technology Studies (STS) with concepts from human geography, my research critically explores global inequalities arising from energy innovation and governance in response to global environmental challenges. My work seeks to better understand the socio-economic, cultural and political tensions between local-global and North-South perspectives and contexts on low carbon transitions to inform the development of energy and governance systems of appropriate scales.
I have a longstanding interest in developing methodological and conceptual approaches to energy and environmental governance based on principles of participatory governance. Ongoing research is exploring how attempts to open up transitions research for development through processes of co-design can facilitate values of inclusiveness and social, environmental and ecological justice by reflecting on experiences of implementing community energy projects in the global South by researchers based in the global North.
Current PhD students:
- Nathan Dixon: Prospective life cycle assessment for the responsible research and innovation of synthetic biology (BBSRC/EPSRC/SBRC/SSP/Faculty of Engineering)
- Judit Varga: Explorations into the Journey of Gesocial Data (Horizon DTC)
- Lola Vázquez Peraita: Sustainability of Biomass Supply Chains for Power Generation (ETI/Alstom/Faculty of Engineering)
- Steffen Becker: The capability approach as an evaluative framework for TVET programmes in bilateral development cooperation. A Case Study of the 'Skills Development for a Green Economy' Programme in South Africa
- Richard Helliwell: Imagining Biofuels - Building Agricultural Supply Chains in the UK: A comparison of UK policy expectations with on-farm perspectives (ESRC DTC studentship)
- Eveline Compaore: The Role of the National Innovation Systems Framework in Facilitating Socio-Economic Development in Burkina Faso: Model and Policy Practice
- Beverley Gibbs: Scoping Scientific Citizenship in a low-carbon Scotland' (ESRC/Scottish government collaborative studentship)
- Szczepan Lemańczyk: Perspectives on nanotechnology from Swedish, Polish and Iranian press coverage (ISS scholarship)
Making Energy Public/s (2013-2016)
This project investigated the role of intermediaries (people, processes and technologies) in making the transition to alternative energy systems more public, drawing on case studies of community energy access for socio-economic development in Kenya and Bangladesh. The project focused on the role of transitions research and researchers based in the global North in facilitating a just transition to low carbon futures for energy impovershied communities in the global South. One of nine projects in the Leverhulme Trust funded 'Making Science Public' research programme, the project is a collaboration with the Solar Nano-Grids (SONG): an appropriate solution for meeting community energy needs? project led by the University of Loughborough and in partnership with the United International University (Bangladesh) and not-for-profit INTASAVE-CARIBSAVE (Kenya).
Social and Ethical Dimensions of Bioenergy (2009-2013) within the Lignocellulosic Conversion to Bioethanol (LACE) project (2009 - 2013)
LACE was one of six scientific projects in the BBSRC-funded Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC) which focused on second-generation approaches to biofuels. The social and ethical dimensions work drew on STS-influenced methods of sustainability assessment and responsible innovation to assess the local-global sustainability impacts of a UK domestic vision for biofuels.
Policy Thought Leadership
My policy-focused work on public engagement has led to the design and implementation of innovative approaches to public participation in research and policy making in the UK and EU. I was commissioned by Sciencewise/BIS to develop policy thought leadership on who or what constitutes the public, the value of opening dialogue to a diverse range of publics, and on the capacity for energy research to be responsive and experimental. This and my BBSRC-funded research on food/fuel land-use conflicts led to me being asked to join the UK Global Food Security (GFS) programme's Food Futures steering group.
Working with communities of internally displaced peoples has led to a further interest in the role of renewables in energy access in humanitarian settings. As increasing numbers of people are being forcibly displaced as a result of violent conflicts and natural disasters the role of renewables in delivering basic services extends beyond energy to include access to clean water, sanitation and subsistence. This work is exploring how energy for development planning and research can be applied to humanitarian crises to improve conditions for some of world's most vulnerable people.