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Making Waste History? Innovation for sustainable consumption (HARGREAVESTU20SCI50)

   School of Environmental Sciences

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  Dr T Hargreaves, Dr G Seyfang  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The challenge of Making Waste History will demand transformative innovation in both the systems that uphold contemporary ways of living (e.g. food, housing, transport etc.) and the related social practices that make up normal everyday life (e.g. shopping, holidaying, and employment). This PhD project will develop and test an innovative conceptual approach which recognises that innovation in systems and innovation in practices are fundamentally interconnected, and will apply it to the pressing sustainability challenge of making waste history.

This PhD is co-funded and will be co-supervised by members of the Waste Team at Norfolk County Council. This will allow the successful applicant to engage closely with real world examples and practice and thus to better understand the realities of trying to transform patterns of consumption and the waste they generate. The project will examine the scope and potential of grassroots innovations in sustainable consumption which aim to foster green lifestyles, transform consumerism, reduce waste and embrace ‘degrowth’ values. Examples include creating new platforms for sharing; revaluing material consumption; self-provisioning; craft and repair; zero-waste living; etc. These types of initiative seek to build new systems of provision for food, housing, transport, energy, etc., which meet social and environmental needs as well as economic imperatives. This is an under-researched area and one which policymakers are increasingly interested in. The work will thus deliver fresh thinking and vital solutions to academics, policymakers and practitioners eager to support transitions to sustainable systems and practices across a variety of sectors.

There is considerable scope for the successful candidate to shape the project to their own interests, but we envisage the project will involve a range of qualitative methodologies such as: sectoral mapping and literature review, in-depth case study research, interviews, surveys, document analysis, and observation.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here;
Type of Programme: PhD
Start Date: October 2020
Mode of Study: Full-time
Entry Requirements: Acceptable first degree in Human geography, sociology, planning, anthropology, economics, psychology, development studies, the standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is jointly funded for three years by Faculty of Science and Norfolk County Council. Funding comprises home/EU tuition fees, an annual stipend of £15,009 and £1000 per annum to support research training. Overseas applicants may apply but are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (which for 2020-21 are detailed on the University’s fees pages at . Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual increase).


i. Cohen, M., Brown, H. and Vergragt, P. (eds) (2013) Innovations in Sustainable Consumption: New Economics, Socio-technical Transitions, and Social Practices (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar)
ii. Grin, J., Rotmans, J, Schot, J. (2010) Transitions to Sustainable Development: New Directions in the Study of Long Term Transformative Change. (New York: Routledge)
iii. Hargreaves, T., Longhurst, N. and Seyfang, G. (2013) ‘Up, Down, Round and Round: Connecting Regimes and Practices in Innovation for Sustainability’ Environment and Planning A 45(2) 402 – 420 doi:10.1068/a45124
iv. Seyfang, G., Hielscher, S., Hargreaves, T., Martiskainen, M. and Smith, A. (2014) ‘A Grassroots Sustainable Energy Niche? Reflections on community energy case studies’ Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions Vol 13 pp.21-44 DOI: 10.1016/j.eist.2014.04.004
v. Shove, E., and Trentmann, F. (2018) Infrastructures in Practice: The dynamics of demand in networked societies. (London: Routledge)
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