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Promoting digital inclusion: scenario planning for sustainable rural communities

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Cottrill
    Dr L Philip
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

With the rapid expansion of Intelligent Communications Technologies (ICTs) and the concomitant focus on e-government, e-commerce, and e-health services, access to a high quality digital infrastructure is increasingly essential to everyday life. Technological transformations may disadvantage those who are not ‘connected’, and who therefore are unable to take advantage of the economic, social, and cultural benefits gained from digital connectivity. Exploring attributes of and outcomes associated with digital exclusion, a new facet of social exclusion is of considerable relevance to broad UK and EU socio-economic policy debates.

Digital exclusion is the product of a complex interplay between contextual (e.g. age, income status) and compositional (place based) factors. Areas with restricted access to such services as 3G and 4G networks, high speed broadband, and personal mobile technologies are found across the UK but are concentrated in remote rural areas. These areas have not kept pace with developments associated with the ubiquitousness of ICT in everyday life: this ‘digital divide’ reinforces existing inequalities and threatens maintenance of a stable population base. Combined, the future viability of communities can be challenged.

This project will firstly identify and analyse key trends in the digital world, focusing on factors such as migration and mobility, distribution of digital technology, and advances in sustainability and resilience movements in order to develop a set of scenarios for forecasting potential futures for currently digitally excluded areas. By identifying key components of impact upon the potential futures for these areas, a set of actions will be developed that may optimise the potential for creating sustainable rural communities that are responsive to and prepared for the rapid change envisioned by future transitions in the digital realm. It is hoped that outputs from this project will help retain and enhance community sustainability.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Geography or a cognate discipline such as Sociology, Social Psychology. Knowledge of Theories of social exclusion and the related concepts of deprivation and disadvantage, community development approaches, quantitative and qualitative methods.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.


Application procedure

Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Geography, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr C Cottrill ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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