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PhD Studentship in Honour of the Late Dr. Ros Hague

Title: ‘Doing Politics the Environmental Way- How are Environmental Activists Reinventing Their Politics?’

Nottingham Trent University, School of Social Sciences, Nottingham, UK

Primary supervisor: Prof Matt Henn (matt.henn [at] ntu.ac.uk)

NTU Social Sciences Doctoral school contact: BLSPhDAdmin [at] ntu.ac.uk

Application deadline: June 28, 2019

Project Description

It is expected that you will submit a detailed research proposal for an empirically-based project as part as part of your application. This research proposal should be a minimum of 1,000 words in length and should not exceed 2,000 words (including reference list and any endnotes/footnotes). You should include a word count at the end of the proposal. You should prepare your research proposal so that it broadly aligns to the following project.

Research context

Recent trends across Europe indicate that people seem less committed to national political systems and mainstream political parties, and are increasingly attracted to issue-based politics, parties and movements (Norris and Inglehart 2019). They also appear to be deeply sceptical of governments and of the political classes (Norris 2011; Hansard Society 2016). This is particularly evident in Britain, where it has been claimed that citizens are becoming progressively more disillusioned with the practice of UK democratic politics and abstaining from voting in elections (Whiteley 2012; Sloam and Henn 2018).

However, it is claimed by some (Tormey 2015) that this persisting withdrawal of citizens from institutionalized-electoral politics has its parallel in a tendency towards support for, and participation in, new styles of political action that seem to better fit their individualised values and life-styles and which permit the actualization of their political aspirations. For instance, many people give preference to environmental and “postmaterialist” issues over more traditional economic and social concerns like the performance of the economy and immigration. Indeed, authors such as Norris and Inglehart (2019) and Sloam and Henn (2018) have recently claimed that people are becoming increasingly attracted to environmental politics, and that this reflects the emergence of new cultural cleavages to rival the old postindustrial (materialist-economic) ones. Given the increasingly severe environmental problems today, both local and global, the proposed doctoral research project looks certain to be of continued importance.

Project aims

This project has as its primary aim to explore the increasing attraction of environmental politics to people, in particular:

(i)how and why the agenda of environmental politics appeals to people’s values and issue-concerns, and

(ii)how and why people engage with alternative and non-electoral styles of political participation as they seek to achieve their environmental aspirations.

Research design

This will be an empirically-based research project. The nature of the project is such that either quantitative or qualitative methods, or a combination of approaches and methods, will be possible. It is expected that the applicant will develop a very detailed research design that is well-matched to the project aim/s.

The research design should carefully outline and justify:

– choice of method/s and approach/es;

– proposed data collection plans;

– any access issues with respect to participants and data sources as well as how these will be addressed;

– any particular ethical and/or health and safety issues that may emerge from the project (and how these will be addressed).

The project is not restricted to an examination of British politics, as studies to be conducted of the practice of environmental politics in other countries will be equally welcome.

Funding Notes

This PhD will be funded from a stipend donated by the family of Dr Ros Hague, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at NTU who died suddenly in November 2017, age 42.

We regret that we are not able to fund international students. Only Home/EU are eligible to apply.

In addition to a fees scholarship, students may also be eligible for living costs at the standard UKRI rate. The final decision about stipend funding will be taken at the selection stage and cannot be guaranteed at this point.


Norris, P. 2011. Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Norris, P. and Inglehart, R. 2019. Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hansard Society 2016 ‘Audit of Political Engagement 13: The 2016 Report’, Hansard Society, available at: https://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/publications/audit-of-politicalengagement-13-the-2016-report

Sloam, J. and Henn, M. 2018. Youthquake 2017: The Rise of Young Cosmopolitans in Britain, Palgrave, (free to download at: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-319-97469-9).

Tormey, S. 2015. The End of Representative Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Whiteley, P. 2012. Political Participation in Britain, Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke.


The politics of hydropower: a study of the main drivers behind the resurgence of the hydropower sector in the GlobalSouth

University of Reading, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Reading, UK

Primary supervisor: Dr. F Menga

Applications welcomed year-round

Self-funded PhD students only

Project Description

“The University of Reading, Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, seeks to appoint a postgraduate student to carry out innovative research exploring the politics of large hydropower plants (henceforth, HPPs). The successful candidate will critically explore and disentangle the various discourses employed by political and economic elites to promote and justify the realisation of HPPs, identifying and categorising the main drivers and economic forces behind the hydropower sector. Following a decline in their number from the 1970s onwards, HPPs are now back on the global agenda and are being presented as a key source of renewable energy. Hundreds of new, extremely costly, and controversial projects have thus been launched in the last few years on the Global South, and this trend is escalating.

Large HPPs occupy a well-defined geographical space and yet they have a number of manifest consequences at various levels. For local populations, these will include landscape changes, loss of cultural heritage sites, and resettlement policies. At the country level, a large HPP will have an impact on state budgets, irrigated land, flood control, and electricity generation. At the wider river basin level, a large HPP will influence the amount of water flowing to other basin riparians, and consequently will have strategic and geopolitical consequences for the parties involved. In a time marked by increasing attention to, and concern over, a pending water crisis worldwide, it is essential to further delve into the motives behind a government’s decision to engage in the construction of these controversial megaprojects.

We seek applicants with an excellent academic track-record, a keen and critical intellect and (preferably) some work experience in NGOs or International Organizations. The successful candidate will be responsible for identifying its own case study (or case studies), even though it is suggested that this will include one or more of the countries which are currently leading the way in the hydropower sector and in the propagation of a pro-hydropower discourse: Brazil, China, India, Ethiopia, and Tajikistan. Theoretically, we would look favourably at candidates with a demonstrable interest in critical theory, political ecology, historical materialism, and assemblage theory.

Funding Notes



Democratic institutions and future generations: an international workshop

Thursday 10th May, 10.45-17.30

Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster

There is growing recognition that democracies tend to privilege the short-term to the detriment of the interests of future generations. This workshop focuses on theoretical and practical developments that aim to ameliorate the drivers of short-termism and orientate democratic institutions to the protection of future generations.

The workshop will be based on five papers:

– Simon Caney (Warwick), ‘Democracy and the Future: Exploring Some Mechanisms for Addressing Wrongful Short-Termism’

– Henrike Knappe (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam), ‘Whose Future? Political Representation in Transnationa l Sustainability Politics’

– Michael Mackenzie (Pittsburg), ‘Acting Through Time: Collective Action Among Non-Overlapping Generations’

– Maija Setälä (Turku)‘The Politics of Non-Existence. The Representation of Future Generations in Democratic Deliberation’

– Graham Smith (Westminster), ‘What Role Participatory Governance in the Protection of Future Generations?’

There will be an assumption that participants will have read the papers beforehand. Please contact Graham Smith g.smith [at] westminster.ac.uk if you would like to participate in the workshop.

The workshop is co-convened by the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), the Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO) project and the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (FDSD).