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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Existing Content - 5 JULY 2016 15:18  /  Research  /  Science, Politics and Government

Science, Politics and Government


Geographers have long sought to understand the role of nature and the natural environment in social and political life. The work of the cluster develops from this core geographical concern, but takes it in new directions. On the one hand, the cluster’s research is concerned not just with environmental politics, but also with the government and biopolitics of population, health and everyday life; the politics of material artefacts, natural resources and living organisms; and the phenomenological and sensory realms of modernity. On the other hand, the cluster is committed to methodological innovation, in visualisation and the analysis of big data, in archival research, as well as through collaborations with natural scientists, artists, and other practitioners. Reflecting these conceptual, political and methodological concerns, the current research of the cluster is focused on four main areas of interest: the practice of everyday life; political events and materials; environment, politics and expertise; geodemographics and big data.

Research Themes

Our research falls under the following main themes:





















Recent Projects


Since 2008, cluster members have attained nationally and internationally competitive research funding from the European Research Council (Matthew Gandy), British Academy (Alan Ingram), ESRC (James Cheshire, Paul Longley), Gerda Henkel Foundation (Matthew Gandy), Humboldt Foundation (Matthew Gandy), EPSRC (Paul Longley), the European Commission (Peter Jones), Nuffield Foundation (Russell Hitchings), RGS-IBG (Sam Randalls) and The Wellcome Trust (Paul Longley).


Geography and public policy

In addition to the geocomputational contributions to public policy analysis in health, education, policing, migration and data, further quantitative and qualitative research in this research group brings out the centrality of space in informing social, scientific and environmental policy. An attention to context often underlines the links between health, well-being and sustainability.  James Kneale’s work reconsiders drink as a spatial problem in both alcohol licensing and public health decision-making.  Mark Maslin’s work informs debate on the geographically disparate health risks arising from climate change.  Russell Hitchings’s research on the everyday practice and management of local climate informs policies supporting sustainable and healthy modes of living amongst older people during winter and office workers in the city. Jurgen Essletzbichler explores implications of the lack of a geographic dimension to energy transition research and UK energy policy.  Peter Jones’s work develops and applies a framework for analysing and improving governance in the context of marine spatial planning initiatives.

Public Engagement

The group has strong links to the wider community, with a range of activities include network building (James Kneale, Paul Longley), knowledge transfer (James Cheshire, Paul Densham, Russell Hitchings, Paul Longley), natural resource governance (Peter Jones) and collaborations with artists and designers (Alan Ingram,  Andrew Barry, Matthew Gandy) that seek to enact, as well as understand, the interrelated geographies of science, policy and politics.  Contributions to policy are facilitated by participation in initiatives at: Chatham House (Alan Ingram); the Corporation of London (Russell Hitchings); the Department of Health (James Kneale); Global Health Watch (Alan Ingram); FAO, UNEP, Westminster Forum (Peter Jones); and the British Film Institute (Andrew Barry) central government’s Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (Paul Longley); and the ESRC UK Data Service Governing Board (Paul Longley).  Locally, the cluster is associated with university initiatives including UCL Grand Challenges of Global Health and Human Wellbeing and the UCL Environment Institute.

PhD Students

Jin-ho Chung: Political ecology and community based adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia

Hannah Fair: Grassroots responses to climate change in the Pacific

Matthew Fortnam: Transformations of marine governance: an analysis of processes that change the trajectories of social-ecological systems, with a particular focus on coral reefs in the Philippines

Bharath Ganesh: Hip-hop and Countering Islamophobia

Sam Halvorsen. Subverting space: territorial practices and territoriality in the Occupy London movement.

Jens Kandt: Towards a holistic understanding of health inequalities

Lara Kennedy: Community gardens and sociality in London

Matthew Kimberley: Mapping the Marvel Universe: the role of imagined geographical communities and landscapes in American national identity formation

Amil Mohanan: The biopolitics of internet governance

Braulio Eduardo Morera: Ecological metaphors and urban sustainability: a critical analysis of eco-towns

Sam Page: Becoming Labour: Renewing electoral geography through assemblage theory

Andrew Papworth: Climate Change and Global Health

Sara Peres: Seed banking the spatial practices of securing plant biodiversity

Lucia Perez: A governance analysis of MPAs in Galicia, Spain.

Anna Plyushteva: City mega projects and new modes of commuting in Sofia

Valentine Seymour: Conservation volunteering and green gyms

Sinthujan Varatharajah. Suspended in this disjunction: the German asylum complex.

Faye Wade: An ethnographic approach to boiler installation in UK homes

Charlotte Whelan. Experimental art practices and alternative political spaces in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

MSc Courses

The research of the Science, Politics and Government cluster links closely with the following Masters courses: