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Environmental Change and Sustainability Team

The Environmental Change and Sustainability Team (ECS) is Staffordshire University’s recognised academic focus for environmental sustainability, climate change and carbon literacy.

We work closely with University Sustainability Group as part of the University’s commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. 

Our research and scholarly activity focuses on environmental change and digital geographies. Research on environmental change is undertaken by internationally recognised experts in ecosystem services, glacial processes, natural hazards, and landscape change. As an expert in in land-use science, landscape ecology and conservation Prof. Ruth Swetnam applies her GIS and associated skills to questions concerning the management of natural resources at a full range of spatial scales, from individual field and farm through national to global level assessments. Ruth recently led on a landscape work stream as part of the £6 million project ‘Glastir Monitoring and Evaluation Programme’ (GMEP), funded by the Welsh Government.  Prof. Fiona Tweed’s research focuses on increasing understanding of cryospheric processes and their impacts, particularly in the context of deglaciation. Fiona’s collaborative research on the societal impacts of glacier floods was cited in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on ‘The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ released in September 2019. Fiona also works on natural hazards, risks and resilience, all of which are changing because of the impacts of our changing climate. Recent collaborative work between Ruth and Fiona centres on developing methodologies for assessing the visual quality of landscapes, which is becoming increasingly important given the pace of global environmental change. Ruth and Fiona are both members of the Centre of Archaeology (CoA). Fiona is also on the core team of SCoLLP (Staffordshire Centre of Learning and Pedagogic Practice) and is a nationally recognised leader in research-engaged learning. 

Mr. Tim Harris is Staffordshire University’s registered spokesperson on climate change and weather-related phenomena; he has a long-standing research focus on environmental change through geological time and the changing nature of landscapes. He is also interested in aspects of geoconservation. Tim collaborates with other Geography staff and is a member of the Centre of Archaeology (CoA). In addition to his thematic research expertise, Tim is an innovator in the design and delivery of undergraduate fieldwork, most recently picking up the award of ‘Digital Pioneer’ at SU’s Celebrating Staff Success.  

Dr. Paul Barratt is cultural geographer who is interested in environmental engagements (especially those relating to cycling and climbing), low carbon living and working, and the use of qualitative research methods. He is especially interested in digital aspects of human engagements with the outdoors. 

Dr. Janet Wright has a range of research expertise and scholarly experience. Trained as a physical geographer, the mains areas of her research have centred on geomorphic mechanisms of quartz silt production and weathering studies, especially the weathering and degradation of building materials. As Janet’s career has developed, her research and teaching interests have broadened to include the physical geography of urban environments and urban environmental issues. 

Dr. Eleanor Atkins is an expert in the ecology of habitats, specifically green infrastructure and urban ecology. She is motivated by the need to make improvements to the natural world in order to benefit biodiversity, but also because of the influence that this has on our environments and wellbeing. Her work explores the abundance of birds, mammals and invertebrates that inhabit green spaces, but it is also concerned with the huge improvements that we can make locally to allow biodiversity and species to flourish, which will enable us to gain from a greener, cleaner more biodiverse landscape outside our front door. 

Our research and scholarly activity heavily inform our undergraduate and postgraduate learning and teaching which has been led by our expertise for the last 25 years. Our external examiners report that many of our learning and teaching initiatives are at the forefront of creative curriculum and pedagogic development. Research-engaged learning and fieldwork learning are specific areas of innovation and our activities have been widely disseminated through conference presentations and publications. All of our staff are Fellows or Senior Fellows of the HEA and we also have two SU Teaching Excellence Fellows and an HEA National Teaching Fellow. Postgraduate students (MPhil and PhD) form part of our community of scholars and contribute to our learning and teaching, especially in the areas of GIS and fieldwork learning.

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