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Interdisciplinary PhD in Sustainable Social Entrepreneurship - identifying patterns and processes of environment related entrepreneurial approaches undertaken by women to alleviate poverty


Department of Geography

About the Project

This PhD studentship is aligned with the UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Hub (www.livingdeltas.org). The Hub focuses on three major deltas in Asia: the Red River, Mekong and the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and aims to develop new knowledge and policies that will create more resilient and sustainable delta communities.

The interdisciplinary PhD will be based in the Department of Geography and associated with the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR) (https://www.dur.ac.uk/ihrr/). The PhD project will be supervised by Prof. Louise Bracken (Geography) and Dr Ashar Aftab (Business School).

You will join an active team of researchers in the Durham University Geography Department (https://www.dur.ac.uk/geography/) and Centre for Environmental and Energy Economics (https://www.dur.ac.uk/business/research/economics/ceee/) addressing a range of environmental issues.

The research topic


Delta region farming communities are faced with water shortages, salinity intrusion, diffuse water pollution and other physical environmental pressures exacerbated by climate change such as sea level rise. The aim of the PhD is to use both qualitative and quantitative methods to identify patterns and processes of environment related entrepreneurial approaches undertaken by women to alleviate poverty. The research will explore environmentally friendly economic opportunities and cost-effective solutions to production externalities from food production and barriers to their uptake. Mangrove-shrimp and rice-shrimp farming systems typify the complex environmental issues facing fragile communities in deltas. Spatial analysis of the findings, especially around the physical environment, will be important to understand the relationship between entrepreneurial activities and the physical context.

The appointee will be required to travel to the relevant delta regions to conduct fieldwork. It is anticipated that at least two field sites will be used, either within one of the study areas or across different delta regions. Methods are likely to include interviews, focus group discussions and surveys. Analysis will involve quantitative and qualitative methods such as statistical and GIS techniques as relevant. The successful applicant will also be required to attend Living Delta Hub meetings and workshops. All travel and fieldwork related expenses will be covered.

Suitable Candidates


Applicants must have an MSc (or close to completion) in Economic Anthropology, Human Geography, Ecological Economics or a relevant cognate discipline. Applicants with expertise in agri-environmental water issues and experience of relevant research in South-East Asia, will be preferred.

The 3-year fully funded PhD .

The studentship includes full home (UK and EU) or Overseas tuition fees, a full UKRI-equivalent doctoral stipend (see: https://www.ukri.org/skills/funding-for-research-training/), and access to generous research support for laboratory- and field-working.

How to apply


To apply, please send the following documents to with the reference “LIVING DELTAS”.

1) a current CV;
2) a cover letter (2 pages A4 max.) that describes your motivation for applying and your previous research experience;
3) letters of support from two referees (these can be sent directly to by referees); and
4) transcripts of previous qualifications.
5) Evidence of proficiency in English if English is not native language (IELTS, TOEFL etc)

The deadline for applications is 1st August. Applications will be reviewed and shortlisted, and interviews will take place from W/C 17th August

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Prof Louise Bracken [] or Dr Ashar Aftab []. Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted.

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