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The role of individual lifestyle choices in sustainability transformation


Project Description

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2020.

This studentship belongs to ‘Transforming Portsmouth’, a cross-university interdisciplinary research programme designed to provide actionable evidence to underpin Portsmouth’s transformation to a sustainable city. Portsmouth faces multiple challenges related to climate, economy and environment. The programme will draw evidence from around the world to really make an impact in Portsmouth. Through early and ongoing engagement with key local agencies, Portsmouth residents, and leading international organisations, the programme will use global excellence to meet local needs.

The PhD will be supervised by Prof. Lisa Jack, Dr Lorenzo Stafford, and Dr Cressida Bowyer.

The work on this project could involve:
-A longitudinal case study examining the influences on lifestyle choices, individual attitudes and motivations for change, the consequences of selected lifestyle changes, and the infrastructure available to support intended changes.
-An analysis of communications that influence sustainability-oriented lifestyle changes and the subsequent spread of those messages and practices.
-The collection and analysis of panel data over a 2-3 year period using diary techniques and/or ethnography.
-The development of theory around personal agency and social structural change.

Project description
Individual lifestyle choices and behaviours are critical components of sustainability and are deeply influenced by age, gender, socio-economic status and attitude to personal agency. This study will examine a range of Portsmouth communities to identify how lifestyle choices (such as travel, energy and/or food) can influence city-wide sustainability transformation. In particular, the research will seek to identify interventions likely to result in choices that support more sustainable outcomes for all. The wider trade-offs, unintended consequences, and enablers of changed lifestyle choices will be examined to determine the true scale of net benefits. The research will consider how individuals act on knowledge, the influence of their internal and external contexts and networks, and the extent to which broader transformative intentions influence individual lifestyle choices.


General admissions criteria
You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements
This project can be adapted to a number of social science methodologies, which include but are not limited to psychology, economics, sociology. Candidates with specific experience and knowledge of some or all of these approaches would be especially welcome.

How to Apply
We’d encourage you to contact Prof. Lisa Jack () or Prof. Steve Fletcher () to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.


If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code ACFM5160220 when applying.

Funding Notes

The scholarship covers tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £15,009 (UKRI 2019/20 rate) for three years. Scholarship recipients will also receive up to £3,000 for research project costs/consumables during the duration of the programme.

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