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Citizens, environmental sustainability and local democracy SSS15

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: SSS15

There is an increasing recognition that the world is facing a climate emergency.  This issue is never far from news headlines and has prompted a global surge in environmental activism (Fisher 2019; Wahlström et al. 2019). Responding to these protests, many national governments have been conspicuously eager to engage with activists like Greta Thunberg to set targets to reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, such protests have also transformed international conversations at important United Nations climate negotiations in the run-up to the 2021 COP26 Climate Conference (Henn, Sloam and Nunes 2021).

Although such climate-focused citizen/elite engagement is evident at national and international levels, there is an absence of empirical evidence of local level interactions between individual citizens and powerholders.  The primary purpose of this proposed research is to deliver an ‘impact’ project that will be co-produced with GB local authorities that strengthens citizens’ role in designing local policies to combat climate change. It will build on recent research conducted by the lead supervisor (the ‘Director of Studies’) that considers how to engage Nottingham citizens in local policymaking concerning climate change so that they feel they have influence over the policy process and become part of the solution to the climate crisis (Henn and Arya 2021).

The project aims are to:

  • impact research on the engagement of citizens as co-producers of local climate policy and response;
  • develop a research collaboration with selected GB local authorities on policies aimed at achieving an inclusive carbon neutrality target;
  • design a model (toolkit) of citizen engagement in local climate policy/carbon neutrality which can be adapted to and promoted in other localities.

It is expected that the successful candidate will:

  1. engage with related concepts such as ‘civic engagement’, ‘participatory governance’ and ‘participatory democracy’;
  2. devise a research plan that will identify a selection of local authorities to consider how they are engaging citizens in their carbon neutral policymaking.

The nature of the research is such that either quantitative or qualitative methods, or a combination of different approaches (online or in-person), will be possible. As part of their research proposal, applicants are asked to prepare a fully justified research design section that outlines proposed methods of data collection to capture lay participants’ lived experience of these processes.

School strategic research priority

The project aligns with the Centre for Behavioural Research Methods and Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families. It is also aligns with the University's theme, Promoting Social and Democratic Inclusion and Transformation.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

Still need help?

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