Our research focuses on the UK, dryland regions, and developing areas of the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean. The department maintains close links with colleagues in a number of overseas institutions (particularly in Spain, the Caribbean, Egypt and Vietnam). Research facilities include a postgraduate office and new soils and geomatics laboratories with a range of analytical equipment and high level GIS and Image Processing systems.

Recent Submissions

  • Exploring local perspectives on flood risk: A participatory GIS approach for bridging the gap between modelled and perceived flood risk zones

    Bullen, James; Miles, Andrew; University of Chester; Transport for West Midlands (Elsevier, 2024-01-05)
    As cities continue to expand and climate change exacerbates flooding, development within flood risk zones becomes an increasingly pressing concern. Engineered solutions alone cannot fully address the risks to individuals and communities, especially when local officials and residents have conflicting understanding of the risk. Participatory GIS (PGIS) offers a unique opportunity to bridge this gap by engaging with communities to better understand their perceptions of flood risk. While PGIS has traditionally been used in developing nations as an alternative to numerical flood models, its potential for use in developed nations is largely unexplored. This paper presents a case study of survey-based PGIS conducted in Reading, a large town in Berkshire, UK. Findings suggest that local residents possess a surprisingly accurate understanding of flood risk zones, but discrepancies with modelled flood risk were also identified. These discrepancies may be due to issues with cartographic representation, but also raise concerns about the accuracy of numerical flood models. By examining local perceptions of flood risk, this study highlights the importance of considering community perspectives in flood risk management and offers valuable insights for practitioners seeking to bridge the gap between modelled and perceived flood risk zones.
  • The Intimate Socialities of Going Carbon Neutral

    Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Wiley, 2023-11-17)
    This paper argues that the generation of social intimacy is critical to enabling acts of environmental care. By interrogating the intimate socialities of a group of young people who grew up in a village community committed to carbon reduction, I untangle the influence of everyday intimacies on everyday (un)sustainabilities, particularly in relation to the popular but uncritical positioning of young people as ’sustainability saviours’. I problematise assumptions that young people’s social intimacies are a straight-forward enabler of lifestyle change aligned with sustainability by highlighting the fluidity of intimacies and associated senses of trust throughout young adulthood. I argue further that capitalising on this fluidity might in fact amplify bottom-up environmental care if young people can move readily between networked spaces of trust and support. Drawing from scholarship on friendship, family and community intimacies and the substantial literature on households as crucibles for more sustainable living, I suggest there is considerable reconciliation work demanded at a personal level in order to live comfortably within the everyday intimacies of social life at the same time as committing to individual environmental action. These arguments advance debates around the optimal social drivers of more sustainable lifestyles, at the same time as sounding a cautionary note in relation to the too-easy emplacement of responsibility for driving change at the feet of young people.
  • Temporal tensions in young adults’ efforts towards influencing institutional climate action

    Collins, Rebecca; Hunt, Tamara; Cox, Jade; University of Chester; Chester Youth Climate Action Network; Cheshire West & Chester Council (Taylor & Francis, 2023-11-16)
    In this Viewpoint we draw attention to an overlooked tension at the intersection of young adults’ and older adults’ everyday life-world temporalities, and argue that this tension presents a considerable intergenerational challenge for the enabling of young people’s agency for climate action. We articulate the often-cyclical nature of young people’s everyday temporalities, especially for those within formal education systems based on year-on-year ‘progression’, highlighting both the benefits of such cyclical opportunities for involvement in climate action and challenges inherent to the necessary ‘moving on’ at the end of each cycle. We contrast these inherently forward-moving (annual) cycles with the protracted, often non-linear chains of decision-making and action that characterise, first, the (older adult-led) systems upon which youth-led pro-environmental action seeks to have an impact, and second, the (also older adult-led) structures – of funding, coordination, legitimacy-making, and other forms of ‘resource’ – that enable and support youth-led initiatives. By narrating our ongoing negotiation of these tensions, we look afresh at the idea of intergenerational relations for climate action, not through the more typical lens of age-based generational identity (and their synergies or tensions), but through the lived temporalities of younger and older adults, with their contrasting orientations to and responsibilities towards the levers of meaningful action.
  • Writing collaboratively in groups: Reflections on twenty-five years experiences of international collaborative writing groups

    Healey, Mick; Healey, Ruth L.; University of Gloucestershire; University of Chester
    International collaborative writing groups (ICWGs), working with a sponsoring organization, have had a major impact on capacity building and developing learning communities, as well as producing quality outputs (Healey, 2017; ISSOTL, nd). They are about “working creatively, critically and collaboratively to address a scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) challenge from a multi-perspective lens” (Abrahamson, 2023). ICWGs usually involve groups of staff and students from different countries working together with a leader in small teams to write articles about pre-selected topics for submission to an international peer-reviewed journal. The process normally lasts around 18 months from announcement to submission, with participants working mostly online. The highlight is when all the teams come together for between 2 and 3 days, before or after an international conference, to work intensively on their articles. Whilst this model has predominantly been used within the context of SoTL, it is easily transferable to other topics and disciplines. We ran the first full ICWG in SoTL from 2004-06 for geographers, drawing on the experience of running an international seminar in 1999 that piloted many of the features that subsequently came to characterise ICWGs (Healey, 2006; Healey et al., 2000)). Subsequently in 2012 we introduced ICWGs to ISSOTL (Healey et al., 2013). We have experienced each of the three ICWG roles – event facilitator, group leader, and co-author – several times in the last 25 years (Table 1). In this chapter we offer advice based on our reflections on these experiences, and the research evidence on the opportunities and challenges ICWGs have provided for participants. We outline some suggestions for how participants playing the different ICWG roles may make the most of their experiences, and how the model might be used by the wider SoTL community and other academic communities to support local, national, and institutional collaborative writing groups. We begin by exploring the nature and purposes of ICWGs in SoTL.
  • Towards flexible personalized learning and the future educational system in the fourth industrial revolution in the wake of Covid-19

    Whalley, Brian; France, Derek; Park, Julian R.; Mauchline, Alice; Welsh, Katharine; University of Sheffield, University of Chester, Universty of Reading (Taylor & Francis, 2021-02-25)
    The concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is examined and related to a ubiquitously connected and pervasively proximate (UCaPP) world, Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity (VUCA) as well as Barnett's concept of 'supercomplexity' in Higher Education and its response to Covid-19. Pedagogies need to be aligned with institutional and views about 'quality education' but with respect to the likely changes in the nature of undergraduate student intake in the formulation of a Future Educational System. Considerations include students from 'nontraditional' sources adapting to existing university structures and how adaptive structures might accommodate these students on top of changes and disruptions resulting from Covid-19. We consider that mobile devices (phones and tablets) allow Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) to be developed in accordance with individual students' needs. PLEs allow ubiquitous, flexible educational structures to be developed to improve personalised and quality education. Educational policies should be associated with connectivist approaches involving active learning via broad curriculum development and the core values of 'hybrid-flexible' learning and appreciate the importance of individual student needs and capabilities, socio-economic as well as academic. We stress the importance of broadening access to higher education, in particular, those who have been 'neglected' by current procedures.
  • Blue and grey urban water footprints through citizens’ perception and time series analysis of Brazilian dynamics

    Souza, Felipe; Bhattacharya-Mis, Namrata; Restrepo-Estrada, Camilo; Gober, Patricia; Taffarello, Denise; Tundisi, José Galizia; Mendiondo, Eduardo Mario; University of São Paulo; University of Chester; University of Antioquia; Arizona State University; International Institute of Ecology, São Paulo (Taylor & Francis, 2021-03-04)
    Predicting future water demands of societies is a major challenge because it involves a holistic understanding of possible changes within socio-hydrological systems. Although recent research has made efforts to translate social dimensions into the analysis of hydrological systems, few studies have involved citizen participation in water footprint analysis. This paper integrates time series with citizens’ perceptions, knowledge and beliefs concerning sanitation elements to account for municipal blue and grey water footprints in São Carlos, Brazil, from 2009 to 2016, and potential water footprints in 2030 and 2050. In this case study, grey footprint potentially exceeds the blue water footprint by up to 35 times, and volunteered information suggested a reduction in water consumption, larger garbage production and greater investment in sanitation infrastructure from authorities. We conclude that public knowledge can be used to delineate possible water footprint scenarios and reveal paradoxes in the coevolution of socio-hydrological systems on an urban scale.
  • Reviewing the literature on scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL): An academic literacies perspective: Part 2

    Healey, Mick; Healey, Ruth L.; University of Gloucestershire; University of Chester (International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2023-01-16)
    There are few sources that critically evaluate the different ways of reviewing the literature on scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). We use an academic literacies perspective as a lens with which to explore the different ways that literature reviews may be undertaken. While reviewing the literature is often presented as a scientific, objective process; the reality is much messier, nuanced, and iterative. It is a complex, context-dependent procedure. We provide a practical, critical guide to undertaking SoTL literature reviews. By adopting an academic literacies perspective, we argue that undertaking a synthesis of the literature is a socially constructed process. There is no one way of reviewing the SoTL literature. We distinguish between embedded reviews that present a review contextualising the research that follows, as in most SoTL research articles; and freestanding reviews that synthesize research on specific topics. We discuss the nature of embedded reviews, and evaluate systematic and narrative review approaches to undertaking freestanding reviews. We contend that some of the claims of the superiority of systematic reviews are unjustified. Though critical of systematic reviews, we recognise that for the most part narrative and systematic reviews have different purposes, and both are needed to review the SoTL literature. We suggest that narrative reviews are likely to continue to dominate the SoTL literature, especially while most SoTL studies use qualitative or mixed methods. It is important that contextually-sensitive judgements and interpretation of texts, associated with narrative reviews, are seen as central to the reviewing process, and as a strength rather than a weakness. This article complements a separate one, where we apply an academic literacies lens to reviewing the literature on searching the SoTL literature (Healey and Healey 2023). Together they present a narrative review of searching and reviewing the SoTL literature undertaken systematically. We conclude the current article by discussing the implications for the further development of an academic literacies perspective to searching and reviewing the SoTL literature. We call for studies investigating the lived experiences of SoTL scholars as they go about searching and reviewing the literature. We illustrate this argument with an auto-ethnographic account of the often-serendipitous nature of our hunt for sources in preparing this review and the way our thinking and writing evolved during the writing of the two articles.
  • Searching the literature on scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL): An academic literacies perspective: Part 1

    Healey, Mick; Healey, Ruth L.; University of Gloucestershire; University of Chester (International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2023-01-16)
    There are few references that critically evaluate the different ways of searching the literature on scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), or how these are related to researchers’ goals. We use an academic literacies perspective as a lens with which to explore the different ways that literature searches may be undertaken. While searching the literature is often presented as a scientific objective process; the reality is much messier, nuanced, and iterative. It is a complex, context-dependent process. We provide a practical, critical guide to undertaking SoTL literature searches and argue that these need to be seen as socially constructed processes. There is no one way of searching the SoTL literature. The academic literacies perspective leads us to emphasise the variety of different purposes for carrying out a literature search. We distinguish between using comprehensive tools and selective sources. We end by arguing that there is a need for SoTL researchers to be less insular and take purposeful steps to search for, cite, and amplify diverse voices. This article complements a separate one reviewing and synthesising the SoTL literature (Healey and Healey 2023).
  • Anticipated Memories and Adaptation from Past Flood Events in Gregório Creek Basin, Brazil

    Bhattacharya-Mis, Namrata; Mendiondo, Eduardo Mario; Oliveira, Paulo Tarso Sanches de; Fialho, Hailton César Pimentel; Abreu, Fernando Girardi; Sousa, Bruno José de Oliveira; Souza, Felipe; University of São Paulo; University of Chester; Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (MDPI, 2021-12-01)
    In this research we used walking interviews to investigate the measures used by shopkeepers as protection against floods. The concept of anticipated memory has been used to identify the relationship between their learning from previous events and the adaptive measures they have taken to reduce risk of future flooding in Gregório Creek basin. The area is affected by major flooding issues in the city of São Carlos, southeastern Brazil. Twenty-three (23) downtown merchants shared their experience of the extreme rainfall that occurred on 12 January 2020, characterized by a return period of 103 years. Comparing our findings with November 2015 and March 2018 floods (Interviews 37 and 52 respectively), we noted that due to the enhanced level of threat, people had changed their adaptation strategy by increasing the sum of floodgate height more than 4-fold (870 cm to 3830 cm) between 2015 to 2020. Our results showed that despite frequent flooding, the shopkeepers downtown were reluctant to move away from the area; rather, they preferred to improve their individual protection. The substantial increase in the height of the floodgates represents the population’s feedback in the face of a new level of threat.
  • Towards adoption of mobile data collection for effective adaptation and climate risk management in Africa

    Adekola, Olalekan; Lamond, Jessica; Adelekan, Ibidun; Bhattacharya-Mis, Namrata; Ekinya, Mboto Bassey Eze; Eze Ujoh, Fanan; University of West of England; York St John University; University of Ibadan; University of Chester; University of Calabar; Urban Base Consulting, Abuja (Royal Meteorological Society, 2022-05-16)
    The collection and use of data on climate change and its impacts are crucial for effective climate adaptation and climate risk management. The revolution in internet access, technology and costs has led to a shift from using traditional paper-based data collection to the use of Mobile Data Collection using Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) such as smartphones and tablets. In this paper, we report our experiences using both approaches for a household and business survey during a climate adaptation study in two Nigerian cities— Makurdi and Calabar. The focus of this paper is to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of using traditional paper- based data collection and PDAs as data collection tools for climate change study in African societies. In Calabar, data were collected using paper questionnaires, while in Makurdi the questionnaires were developed on Open Data Kit (ODK) and administered using PDAs. Results show that data collection using PDA was faster, cheaper, more accurate and resulted in fewer omissions than paper-based data collection. There was a time saving of four (4) minutes per questionnaire and a 24% cost saving when using PDA. PDA provides additional benefits where platforms can collect images, videos and coordinates. This significantly improved the credibility of the data collection process and provided further data that allowed for the mapping of environmental phenomena by linking survey research with geo-referenced data in a geographic information systems platform to provide spatial representations of social and environmental system convergence. PDA offers a tool for collecting data that will make necessary socio-environmental data available in a faster, reliable and cheaper manner; future research can build on this study by discovering other possible but less highlighted benefits of PDA. Although, with great benefits, there are lessons to be learnt and issues to consider when deploying PDA in large-scale household surveys
  • Addressing gender inequalities

    Healey, Ruth L.; Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester
    Everyone has a gender identity. Consequently, we all experience the world through a ‘gendered’ perspective. Yet there are significant inequalities in people’s life experiences as a result of their gender. This article explores the impact of some of these gender inequalities and how we might work to address them.
  • The benefits of hindsight: Lessons learnt from leading my first cross-department student-staff partnership project

    Healey, Ruth L.; University of Chester
    Student-staff partnerships have been shown to offer significant potential for enhancing learning and teaching in higher education, however, they are not without their challenges. This paper reflects on my experience of leading a team in our first cross-department student-staff partnership project, which focused on the curriculum design, identifying five key lessons that were learnt from the experience. Despite the challenges faced in this project this did not lessen the success of the project in terms of the production of four successful modules, and the act of undertaking the project and introducing colleagues to partnership practice has enhanced the capacity for partnership across the department.
  • Ruth Healey

    Healey, Ruth L.; MacFarlane, Martina; University of Chester; University of Calgary
    Interview Summary: • Ruth Healey discusses student-staff partnerships and the opportunities created by digital education. • Ruth is excited about the benefits she has seen from the University of Chester’s (UoC) remodelling of course structures and is hopeful that the ‘Chester Blend’ Model will carry on post-pandemic to continue providing an enriched learning environment for both students and staff. • Ruth’s pedagogy is to create a space where students can use class time to identify their interests within the topic area they are studying, and develop their ideas while also learning from others through discussion and collaboration.
  • Identifying and reviewing the key literature for your assignment

    Healey, Ruth L.; Healey, Mick; University of Chester; University of Gloucestershire (SAGE Publications, 2023-04-26)
    Identifying the most relevant, up-to-date and reliable references is a critical stage in the preparation of a whole range of assessments at university, including essays, reports, projects and dissertations, but it is a stage which is often rushed and unsystematic. As Boell and Cecez-Kecmanovic (2014: 257) argue: “The quality and success of scholarly work depends in large measure on the quality of the literature review process.” This chapter is designed to help you improve the quality of your literature search and your written review of the literature, both of which are key elements in undertaking a research project and writing an essay (West et al., 2019). This chapter is organized into the following sections: • The purpose of searching the literature • Making a start • Framing your search • Managing your search • Search tools • Evaluating the literature • Writing the literature review
  • Teaching geography for social transformation

    Wellens, Jane; Berardi, Andrea; Chalkley, Brian; Chambers, Bill; Healey, Ruth L.; Monk, Janice; Vender, Jodi; University of Leicester; Open University; University of Plymouth; University of Sheffield; University of Arizona; Pennsylvania State University (Taylor & Francis, 2011-01-13)
    This paper considers how higher education geography is a discipline that can make a significant contribution to addressing inequality and engaging with the agenda for social change. It adopts the view that the teaching of geography can promote social transformation through the development of knowledge, skills and values in students that encourage social justice and equity. The paper explores how teaching about social transformation is closely interlinked with teaching for social transformation and considers some of the pedagogical approaches that might be used to achieve these. It considers how the lack of diversity of higher education geography teachers impacts on these issues before moving on to consider how the nature of different higher education systems supports or constrains geographers’ abilities to teach for social transformation. Finally, the paper ends by asking individuals and geography departments to consider their commitment to teaching for social transformation.
  • Nature, Nurture, (Neo-)Nostalgia? Back-casting for a more socially and environmentally sustainable post-COVID future

    Collins, Rebecca; Welsh, Katharine; Rushton, Megan; Cliffe, Anthony D.; Bull, Eloise; University of Chester; Newcastle University (Taylor & Francis, 2022-07-27)
    Commentaries on lived experiences of COVID-19-induced ‘lockdown’ have simultaneously directed public imaginations backwards to draw inspiration and fortitude from historical periods of national and global challenge, and forwards into futures characterised by greater environmental sensitivity and community resilience. In this article we argue that individuals’ and households’ practical coping strategies from different phases of lockdown within the UK offer clues as to how adaptive embodiments of close connection – to nature and community – both inform contemporary practices of everyday resilience and signpost towards enablers of a more socially compassionate and environmentally sustainable future. Our novel approach to conceptualising post-COVID recovery draws on ‘back-casting’ – an approach which envisages pathways towards alternative, ‘better’ futures – to work back from the notion of sustainable lifestyles, through participants’ narratives of coping in/with lockdown, to the forms of adaptation that provided solace and encouragement. We highlight how these embodied and emotional adaptations constitute a form of nascent ‘neo-nostalgia’ capable of reaching beyond the enabling of coping mechanisms in the present to inform long-lasting capacity for individual and community resilience in the face of future socio-environmental crises.
  • Editorial: Geoscience communication - Planning to make it publishable

    Hillier, John; Welsh, Katharine; Stiller-Reever, Mathew; Priestley, Rebecca; Roop, Heidi; Lanza, Tiziana; Illingworth, Sam; Loughborough University; University of Chester; Konsulent Stiller-Reeve & University of Bergen; Victoria University of Wellington; University of Minnesota; Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia; Edinburgh Napier University (Copernicus Publications, 2021-10-27)
    If you are a geoscientist doing work to achieve impact outside academia or engaging different audiences with the geosciences, are you planning to make this publishable? If so, then plan. Such investigations into how people (academics, practitioners, other publics) respond to geoscience can use pragmatic, simple research methodologies accessible to the non-specialist or be more complex. To employ a medical analogy, first aid is useful and the best option in some scenarios, but calling a medic (i.e. a collaborator with experience of geoscience communication or relevant research methods) provides the contextual knowledge to identify a condition and opens up a diverse, more powerful range of treatment options. Here, we expand upon the brief advice in the first editorial of Geoscience Communication (Illingworth et al., 2018), illustrating what constitutes robust and publishable work in this context, elucidating its key elements. Our aim is to help geoscience communicators plan a route to publication and to illustrate how good engagement work that is already being done might be developed into publishable research.
  • The road to ‘local green recovery’: signposts from COVID-19 lockdown life in the UK

    Collins, Rebecca; Welsh, Katharine; University of Chester (Wiley, 2022-01-19)
    Responding to the conspicuous absence of reference to the local scale in national and global discourses of ‘green recovery’ from COVID-19, this paper articulates a series of interlinked research agendas united by a focus on what a ‘green recovery’ might involve at a local scale within the context of the United Kingdom. We argue that geography as a discipline is particularly well placed to contribute to theoretical and practical framings of ‘green recovery’ as manifested at and through a range of scales, including the micro (individual), meso (household) and what we term ‘meso+’ (neighbourhood). Specifically, we signpost what might be considered ‘green shoots’ worthy of urgent empirical investigation – shifts in everyday life and practice catalysed by COVID-19 and with the potential to underpin longer-lasting transformations towards socially, economically and environmentally sustainable localities.
  • Geography and Virtual Reality

    Bos, Daniel; University of Chester (Wiley, 2021-08-16)
    Whilst virtual reality (VR) has a long history, recent technological advancements, increased accessibility and affordability have seen its usage become widespread within western consumer society. Despite the relevance of VR to Geography, these more recent developments have escaped scholarly attention. This paper takes a critical perspective on the development of VR and its varied applications, and how emerging theoretical debates within cultural and digital geography can critically attend to the social and cultural implications of VR technologies. The paper begins by considering how VR spaces are imagined and communicated to publics in ways that promote popular understandings of, and desires for, virtual spaces. Next, the paper critically addresses the cultural politics of VR content, particularly drawing attention to the socio-spatial differences evoked through VR. The paper goes on to argue for the need to consider VR through the concept of interface as a way of critically attending to the broader techno-socio relations and the embodied spatial encounters they produce. Finally, some methodological implications for thinking with and through VR are outlined.
  • Playful Encounters: Games for Geopolitical Change

    Bos, Daniel; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2021-12-07)
    Bringing together literatures on play, (video) games, and alter- (native) geopolitics this paper explores how digital games offer playful encounters that challenge popular understandings of geopolitics. While geographical scholarship has exposed the ways video games promote geopolitical and militaristic cultures, this paper concentrates on the disruptive qualities of play. More specifically, the paper focuses on This War of Mine (2014), a game which fosters playful encounters that encourage the player to reflect on the everyday consequences of conflict in urban spaces and their civilian populations. Drawing on an analysis of player reviews of the game, this paper demonstrates how play shapes imaginaries of the geopolitical context(s) of urban conflict and stimulates players to reflect on their attitudes towards violence. In doing so, the paper critically demonstrates how digital games offer important cultural outlets in encountering alternative understandings of geopolitics.

View more