Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
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Humanity’s love and hatred of naturalised species

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, March 30, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisors (from): Dr Mark Jenner (History), Dr Helen Cowie (History), Dr Sabine Clarke (History), Dr Amanda Rees (Sociology) and Professor Chris Thomas (Biology)

A PhD studentship is available to investigate how and why attitudes to species vary over time, considering exemplar species such as the house sparrow and rhododendron. You will develop a PhD that involves interpreting narratives associated with their establishment in different regions of the world, attempts to protect them, and programmes to control or exterminate them. The focus will be on periods of transitions between different ways of thinking. You will be based in the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity at the University of York (, where the project will be supervised by leading experts in environmental history, the history of human-animal relationships and biodiversity change.

From the ’Acclimatisation Societies’ of late 19thC imperial Europe to the present day, human attitudes to other species, whether wild or domestic, imported or native, have varied in relation to a combination of different emotional, economic and aesthetic factors. This conceptualisation of relative worth varies over time and place, in different social contexts, and even within the thinking of individual people. This PhD will focus on attitudes to feral or naturalised species, which have varied between admiration and hatred. When and why did we turn against them? And why do we now love some species that we previously attempted to exterminate?

The project will suit a student who is excited about developing and answering fundamental research questions about human-wildlife relationships. The Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity will provide you with a wide range of opportunities to interact with other PhD students and researchers, in a supportive environment. You will be part of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity research programme, which will provide additional support and training, as well as facilitating interactions with PhD students in other departments at York, and with other universities and research organisations.

Informal contact: Mark Jenner,

Funding Notes

This studentship covers UK/EU fees for 4 years and a stipend of £15,009 per year for 3.5 years. EU students starting October 2020 will continue to pay UK fees throughout their PhD, even if the UK exits the EU.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of York in History?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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