Department of Geography

Risk, Resilience and Citizenship

This group brings together scholars working in the fields of social and cultural geography, economic and political geography, health geography, development geography, and historical geography to explore contemporary issues related to the intersecting themes of health and wellbeing; work, play and livelihoods; children, youth and families; and politics, participation and citizenship. Research conducted by the group is supported by funds from the European Commission, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Leverhulme Trust, South East England Development Agency and Higher Education Academy.

Members of this group undertake research within these themes:


Health and Wellbeing

Multilevel synthetic estimation of health outcomes and behaviours

This long-standing research theme has been funded by several external organisations and uses knowledge about the interplay of individual and place characteristics to predict health status and risk behaviours (e.g. smoking, drinking) for different target geographies. Work continues via ESRC funding to research best practice in synthetically estimating this type of health data at the small area level.

Geographies of smoking

Current interest is focused on how social media can be used to support public health campaigns around teen smoking and collaborative work continues to reveal the processes by which place and space influence smoking risk, particularly amongst young people.

Geographies of mental health

This collaborative NIHR project investigates the spatial disparities in compulsory admission to mental health hospitals across England and evaluates the use of Community Treatment Orders in the management of patients with severe mental illness. See the project website.

Urban and community wellbeing

This is a developing area of research, which aims to determine whether community food growing projects can promote healthy lifestyle choices and modify public perceptions of urban ecology.

Military vulnerabilities and wellbeing

This is a developing area of research, which covers two strands of investigation. The first focuses on the community and social benefits associated with youth cadet force membership and the second is concerned with the geographical profiling of the Military Reserves population.

Impact of childhood environments on health

Our historical GIS team collaborates with medical researchers to trace the connections between local conditions where people grew up, including data on social deprivation, air pollution, etc, and their health today, measured both for areas and, using birth cohort data, individuals.

Voluntary risk perception

This emerging area of research examines attitudes to and perceptions of voluntary risk demonstrated by individuals and professional groups involved in outdoor pursuits such as mountaineering. This involves development of Pictorial Evaluation of Risk Interpretation (PERI) analysis as a technique for multivariate research.

work play and livelihoods

Work, Play and Livelihoods

Play, embodiment and vitality

Through a conceptual and methodological commitment to embodied practice and nonhuman agency, this research strand examines bodily and affective knowledges and practices, and the vitality and creativity they offer across the lifecourse, and across play and work settings.

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Gender, Self employment and entrepreneurship

The spatial and home-based nature of various forms of self-employment are a key focus of this research, located within a concern for the economic insecurity and risks that accompany such livelihoods.

Creative industries and enterprise

This area of research investigates the enactment of forms of gendered, classed, and affective labour that are understood to be increasingly generalized across creative work.

Emerging technologies

This area of research covers three strands of investigation: (1) the ways in which new virtual technologies, specifically the Internet and Social Media, are transforming who can work, how, where and when; (2) the utility of mobile phone technology in enhancing the reliability of rural water supplies in developing contexts; and (3) the use of bio-sensing technology for exploring embodied relations with place.


Children, youth and families

Children and young people’s agency

Researchers working with children in the global North and global South address the agency of children and young people both conceptually and empirically. This is examined in relation to childhood consumption, (geo)political subjectivities and the making of the young citizen, young people’s mobilities, and young people’s roles as caregivers.

Youth transitions and aspirations

This developing area of research covers two areas of investigation that focus on how young people negotiate their pathways to adulthood and sustain or adapt their aspirations in the face of structural constraints. Work with young people in sub-Saharan Africa and with graduates within the digital economy in the UK examines what this means for young people’s current and future wellbeing.

Care and families

This strand of research covers two areas of investigation. The first concerns the impact of caring on young people’s family relationships. The second focuses on the use of small business start-ups as a means to manage dual caring and working roles.

Children and consumption

This research examines children’s everyday domestic practices with toys within the context of an increasingly commercialised childhood. Through a series of projects funded by the ESRC it presents a critical evidence-based response to less grounded cultural commentaries on contemporary children and childhood and seeks to intervene in popular debates surrounding childhood sexualisation, aggression and commodification.

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Cultures of parenting

This strand is concerned with the interface between work/enterprise and family/parenting, especially where the family domain becomes the raw material for enterprise.


Politics, Participation and Citizenship

Ludic Geopolitics

In collaboration with V&A Museum of Childhood, this area of research examines how children make sense of contemporary war and conflict through the ways they express and enact contemporary geopolitics in play with war toys. Via ESRC funding, this work makes a significant intervention in the interdisciplinary war toy debate by addressing the political subjectivities of children and the ways they approach war toys not just as ideological texts, but as objects in playful practice.

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Refugees and migration

Despite the presence of international standards on the treatment of displaced people, refugees are still met with distrust, the erection of fences, walls and encampment while their asylum requests are verified and processed. This branch of research seeks to investigate states’ responses to displacement and to explore refugees’ conditions.

Water Resources and Community Management

This research strand is concerned with evaluating the Community Based Management (CBM) model and alternative approaches currently being piloted by NGOs for rural groundwater management across Sub-Saharan Africa. Understanding service delivery is critical for ensuring the Human Right to safe water by vulnerable groups.

Military Geographies

This strand draws together research relating to military service and the practice of warfare through to the broader imprint of militarism beyond areas of and personnel engaged in actual armed conflict. This includes the use of games, toys, maps and models in the practice of warfare, children’s contributions to cultures of militarism through play, community and social benefits associated with youth cadet force membership, and the geographical profiling of the Military Reserves population.