Professor Jon Fairburn

Job Title and Responsibilities

Professor of Sustainable Development

About Me

I am active in teaching, research and knowledge transfer. I have had a particular interest in recent years in EU projects and have participated in three large funded projects (two on energy and one on innovation support measures) as well as a range of smaller ones.  I am also the faculty co-ordinator for the ERASMUS programme.

There is considerable overlap between my teaching, research and enterprise activities so much so that they are really an artificial separation in the sections below.


Themes: enterprise, innovation, environmental justice, sustainability especially low carbon, some European funding mechanisms, GIS.

  • Extensive experience of leading team projects

  • Extensive experience of working with public and private sector clients on a wide range of research and consultancy projects.

  • GIS and use of large datasets

Enterprise and Commercial Activities

There are two main aspects to this work, firstly providing research or knowledge transfer to businesses and other organisations. The other has been to facilitate student work placements or development of student enterprise/entrepreneurship activity.

Rural enterprise workshops 2013 – ongoing – I am co-ordinating a series of workshops for rural businesses with Emily Whitehead of Simply Staffordshire. The aim is to provide business advice but also to start to develop long term partnerships between the Business School and rural enterprises.

Hosted an EU Transversal Study Tour (Nov 2013) “Developing student entrepreneurship and employability” 1 week with 12 guest from across Europe.

Totally Locally Burslem (2013- ongoing) – working the Burslem Business Community I established this marketing support project for Burslem. Key to the success has been the two students Charnelle Merritt and Garikai Simango who have worked on the project so far. Go to the Totally Locally Burslem Facebook page

HEIF 4 (2009-2011) Low carbon industry affiliation. Series of workshops, feasibility studies, grants, conferences to aid industry.

Fairburn J and Pugh G (2008) A carbon footprint for the M6 Toll Road. Midland Express Limited. Report

Prochorskaite A and Fairburn J (2008) Carbon footprint implications for the sourcing of hospital food in North Staffordshire. Report.

Fairburn J and Dover J (2008) Report for Middlemarch Ltd under the INDEX Voucher scheme on carbon footprints.

Fairburn J and Jackson C (2006 -2008) Evaluation and monitoring of the Waste Recycling Action Programme for Staffordshire County Council.

2003 – 2004 “Supporting SMEs with growth and diversity” project with Groundwork and involving work placement of students in local SMEs

2001-2002 “PREMICE” - Partnership with Environment Agency, Groundwork Stoke, Staffordshire Business Environment Network, Envirowise working with the local ceramics industry to reduce wastes and energy use and save money. Six students placed with local ceramics firms.

2001 – 2010 Workplace co-ordinator and module leader for geography and environmental students. Establishing work experience that counted towards their degree. Finding placements for students working with local organisations.

Research Interests

EU Strategic Partnership project Sustainable Managers in the Tourism Sector (SMARTOUR) STARTED Sept 2015 (2 years). I am the overall lead for this project.

Read Blog on Sustainable Managers in the Tourism Sector (SMARTOUR) – EU project

EU Strategic Partnership Silver Workers – encouraging the over 50s to start their own business. We are a partner on this project, myself and Hazel Squire.

EU GRUNDTVIG Engaging senior citizens in the green economy SEE GREEN. (2011-2013)
Production of a distance learning set of materials to engage senior citizens with energy issues.

EU FRAMEWORK 7 (2010-2012) Good practices in innovation support measures for SMES (GPRIX) The GPrix project assessed a set of regional innovation support measures in a representative set of European regions characterized by a large number of SMEs from traditional sectors.

EU INTERREG (2010- 2012) Renewable Energy Transfer Systems (RETS)
The main objective of RETS was to improve the knowledge and competencies of local and regional policymakers in renewable energies in order to facilitate the deployment of renewable energy policies.

Davey R, Cochrane T, Fairburn J & English D (2006 -2009) Social ecological mapping of physical activity behaviours and health outcomes in deprived inner-city communities. Medical Research Council.

Environmental Justice

I started working in this field in 2001 with Gordon Walker (now at Lancaster University) and since that time have worked with a wide range of organisations across Europe on this theme. This has mainly been on the distributional and methodological aspects of environmental justice.

I have detailed the work with the World Health Organisation separately, some of the big projects include:

Fairburn J & Smith G (2006 – 2008) Environmental justice in South Yorkshire (2008). Environment Agency Report No. GENE0608BODZ-E-E. Environment Agency Publication

Fairburn J and Smith G (2007) Study on the links between the social and environmental pillars of sustainable development in particular the link between social cohesion/inclusion policies and environmental policies. Project led by AEAT with partners in Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

Fairburn J, Walker G, Mitchell G & Smith G (2005) Investigating Environmental Justice In Scotland: Links Between Measures Of Environmental Quality And Social Deprivation. For Scottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research

Walker, G., Mitchell, G., Fairburn, J. and Smith, G. (2003) Environmental Quality and Social Deprivation. Phase II: National Analysis of Flood Hazard, IPC Industries and Air Quality. R&D Project Record E2-067/1/PR1, The Environment Agency, Bristol, 133pp, ISBN 1 8443 222X

Walker G, Fairburn J and Bickerstaff  K (2001) Ethnicity and risk: the characteristics of populations in census wards containing major accident hazards in England and Wales. Occasional Papers, Series A: Geographical Research, Department of Geography, Staffordshire University ISSN 0266-9943

Work with the World Health Organisation

I have been collaborating with the World Health Organisation since 2009. This includes presenting research , leading workshops, chairing meetings and the production of reports. 

WHO (2009) Environment and health risks: the influence and effects of social inequalities

As a results of that work I was invited to attend the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health at Parma in 2010 and also to present at a side event “Environment and health inequalities: European experiences of shaping policies for better lives”

WHO (2011) Towards environmental health inequality reporting

WHO (2012) Environmental health inequalities in Europe Assessment report

Presentation (October 2013) “Environmental inequalities as an area of environmental health economic assessments” at WHO 2nd Symposium of Environmental Health and Economics, Bonn.

WHO site for environmental health economics 

Work with the Health and Safety Executive

Early work deal with risk issues ad firework storage 2001 to 2003. The main piece of work was development of National Population Database 1 with Gordon Walker, Graham Smith and Charlie Arnot.  I and Graham Smith were then responsible for creating the National Population Database 2 which continued up until about 2009. As far as we are aware this is the most detailed population database in existence for England, Scotland and Wales.

Read more about the National Population Database

Conferences organised

Selected Publications

For peer review publications and links to most of my other reports see the repository

Current Teaching

Level 4 – Film production

I started working with James Fair (a senior lecturer in film production) to provide an annual brief for the students on this film module.

• 2010-2011 – Winning pitch filmed the participants of the RETS conference at Staffordshire University

• 2011-2012 – Farmers on Film (vimeo) – supporting farmers and food producers in the year of the Olympics.

Sarah Gayton approached me for help and so we produced these 3 minute short films.
The winning team were presented with their prizes by the Secretary of State for Agriculture at the Big Breakfast event in Stafford. The films also formed part of the Stoke Your Fires Film Festival in 2012.

In April 2012 this project won a bronze prize in the Podium Awards for the best projects in HE and FE sector tied to the Olympics.

• 2012-2013 – Senior citizens and energy
Tied to the work we were doing for the SEE GREEN project

Films available in 6 languages

View Let's See Green video - English
View Let's See Green video - with Dutch subtitles
View Let's See Green video - with Italian subtitles
View Let's See Green video - with Greek subtitles
View Let's See Green video - with Spanish subtitles
View Let's See Green video - with Bulgarian subtitles

• 2013-2014 – Theme Sustainable development and corporate social responsibility at Staffordshire University

Level 5 – Employability and project management 

One of the main modules for delivering the Staffordshire Graduate

Level 5/6 – Sustainable Business

Level 6 - Tourism Management Project

Student Academic Partnership project  (2014 – ongoing) 

Diversity in the Faculty with students Noenye Ekanem and Natalie Francesca

TESS 2013-2014 project

Rural enterprise working with Linda Phillips and student Abby Littler to develop a research base for rural enterprise in Staffordshire


MSc Information Technology (Geographic Information Systems), Keele University

BSc Geography, Coventry Polytechnic

Professional Memberships and Activities

Staffordshire Rural Forum (2013 – ongoing) – I sit on two themed action groups Communities and Economy.

Advisory Board for CICS Ltd - 2013 - ongoing

Board of Directors, Groundwork, Stoke-on-Trent (2003 - 2010)

Chair of Stoke Public Health Policy Advisory Group (2010-213)

Member of the steering group for Rural Economy and Land Use Programme Combining Socio-Economic and Environmental Data for Rural Areas York University ESRC/NERC


Vice Chancellor's Outstanding Contribution Award 2015

Excellence in Innovation and Enterprise Award 2015 – Global Entrepreneurship 'All Nighter' Team


Professor Jon Fairburn
Scholarship, Enterprise & Research (Business School - Research & Enterprise)
Faculty of Business, Education and Law
Staffordshire University
Brindley Building
Leek Road

skype: jon.fairburn
t: +44 (0)1782 294094