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  Climate justice and indigenous knowledge to support climate change public policies

   School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society

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  Dr Adrianna Portella  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD scholarship focuses on how we can integrate the knowledge of indigenous communities to address key climate challenges. Indigenous co-design studies are centered on challenging Western-centric worldviews, power structures, and conceptions of time, valuing the knowledge and expertise of indigenous communities. Collaborative working with indigenous communities, policymakers and practitioners at national and international levels can provide the dialogue space to enable the co-creation of public policies for actionable interventions in the area of climate change. Research questions could focus on `How can we co-design public policies that recognize and apply indigenous ontologies and knowledge in responding to climate change?`, `How to provide opportunities for indigenous communities to represent their identities, interests, and knowledge for the development of climate change public policies?` The objective is to promote a transnational multidisciplinary approach to indigenous knowledge recognition, climate justice, health, urban planning, human geography, and anthropology through international research. The PhD will adopt a holistic approach to qualitative research, which should utilise participatory methods including ethnographic, photo-elicitation/auto photography, focus group, co-design workshops, participant observation, face-to-face interviewing, ordinary `informal` conversations, etc. The outcomes will recognise indigenous knowledge and respond to diverse sustainable delivery frameworks to deliver actionable interventions for climate change.

Relevant subject areas: Climate change; Climate Justice; Sustainability; Biodiversity; Health and Wellbeing; Urban Planning and Urban Design; Human Geography; Anthropology; Built and Natural Environment.


This project is open to all students, whether home, EU or overseas.

The successful candidate will have at least an upper second-class (2:1) undergraduate honours degree in the relevant subject area and ideally a Masters Degree. We may also consider candidates who can demonstrate appropriate alternative learning such as experience gained in the workplace or professional qualifications.

We recognise that not every talented researcher will have had the same opportunities to advance their careers. We therefore will account for any particular circumstances that applicants disclose (e.g. parental leave, caring duties, part-time jobs to support studies, disabilities etc.) to ensure an inclusive and fair recruitment process.  

How to Apply

To apply you must complete our online application form.

Please select PhD Urban Studies as the programme and include the full project title, reference number and supervisor name on your application form. Ensure that all fields marked as ‘required’ are complete.

Once have entered your personal details, click submit. You will be asked to upload your supporting documents. You must complete the section marked project proposal; provide a supporting statement (1-2 A4 pages) documenting your reasons for applying to this particular project, outlining your suitability and how you would approach the project. You must also upload your CV, a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts and an academic reference in the relevant section of the application form.

You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0, or a TOEFL certificate with an overall score of at least 85, including reading 20, listening 19, speaking 20 and writing 21. Alternatively, if you have received an English-taught Bachelors or Masters degree from one of the countries listed on the UK Government Guidance under ‘Who does not need to prove their knowledge of English’, and it was obtained less than two years from your intended start date, you should provide evidence of your award that clearly states it was delivered and assessed in English language.

The primary supervisor for this project is Adriana Portella. Please contact [Email Address Removed].uk for further information or an informal discussion.

Please contact [Email Address Removed] for technical support with your application.


The closing date for applications is 22 March 2024 and applicants must be available to start in September 2024.

Anthropology (2) Architecture, Building & Planning (3) Environmental Sciences (13) Geography (17) Nursing & Health (27)

Funding Notes

James Watt Scholarship
This is a full scholarship which will cover tuition fees (Home and Overseas) and provide an annual stipend (£19,237 in 2024-25) for 42 months. Thereafter, candidates will be expected to pay a continuing affiliation fee (currently £130) whilst they complete writing up their thesis.