Dr Megan Blake

Senior Lecturer

image of megan

Room number: E17   
Telephone (internal): 27978
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7978 QR code
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7978
Email: M.Blake@Sheffield.ac.uk

Megan Blake received her PhD from Clark University in 2001. She joined Sheffield as a temporary lecturer in 2000 and became a permanent member of staff in 2001 - she was promoted to Senior Lecturer in January 2010. Between 2010 and 2013 Megan took a period of special leave spent in Hong Kong, where she developed her skills in public engagement, Inquiry based learning and teaching learners whose first language is not English.

Since returning to the University of Sheffield in August 2013, Megan has committed to incorporating public engagement in her research and teaching activities. She is currently the Departmental Director of Internationalisation and Alumni Relations and the Director of a new MA in Food Security and Food justice. She is also a member of the cross-faculty, interdisciplinary Sheffield Food Futures (SheFF) group, which is part of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures.

Megan maintains her international research connections through her participation in European Commission activities, regular participation in research dissemination in Europe and the United States and continued research and teaching collaborations with colleagues in Hong Kong.

Research Interests

  • Urban food systems and social practice (e.g., market practices, food justice, urban farming, food consumption)
  • Practices and circuits of value and valuing
  • Geographies of Everyday life
  • Innovation and Creativity

Current research

My research engages with recent debates involving critical social theory and is based around issues concerning the ways that everyday life practices, social institutions, and place help shape and inform the daily-life interactions and projects of individuals, reinforce social divisions, and enable or constrain access to resources. This research agenda develops theoretically engaged but empirically grounded approaches to issues within three areas: 1. Food practices and everyday life; 2. Innovation and Entrepreneurship; 3. Life course and wellbeing. Collectively this research has sought to push at theoretical boundaries by stressing the contributions that geographical concepts can make to social theory.

I am currently working on research that explores the ways that value is produced in and circulates through urban food systems with a particular focus on the markets of Hong Kong. This project explores multiple forms of value and value circuits. Of particular concern is firstly, the way that these circuits are constrained by urban policy and (neoliberal) discourse and secondly, the ways in which value circuits are enabled by everyday moments of creativity. The implications for this work are myriad as it considers circuits of waste, wellbeing, food security and urban social justice.

A further interest I have been developing is a consideration of dissemination practice. In addition to teaching on this topic at the masters level, I have also begin putting into practice ways of disseminating my research that extend beyond academic publishing and an academic writing style. You can find more about these efforts at GeoFoodie.org.

I welcome applications from potential postgraduate research students in areas related to those described above or in areas similar to those of my current and recent PhD students (see below).

Teaching

Megan will be teaching on a range of undergraduate undergraduate and postgraduate courses including:

GEO112 Introducing Social and Cultural Geographies
GEO217 Environment, Society and Policy
GEO241 Social and Cultural Geographies
GEO264 Research Design in Human Geography
GEO265 Researching Human Geographies

All staff also engage in personal supervision and tutoring of individual students at all three undergraduate levels in the following modules:
GEO163 (Information & Communication Skills for Geographers)
GEO263 or GEO264 (Research Design in Human or Physical Geography)
GEO356 (Geographical Research Project)

Previous teaching at Sheffield has included material at undergraduate level concerning Economic Geography, Identities, Governance, Labour and employment, and Local Economic Development. At masters level I have contributed to generic skills training with regard to research presentation, and to departmental master’s degrees in the area of research methods, social institutions, labour markets, and practices of research dissemination.

Megan is one of Five Academic Leads responsible for developing and delivering Level 2 Achieve More for the university. This is an initiative aiming to develop student’s abilities to work critically in an interdisciplinary manner with confidence. More on Achieve More can be found on the website.

I have also taught courses in the areas of Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Philosophical Approaches to Geography, and Gendered Geographies at a Universities elsewhere , including Dartmouth College (USA), Clark University (USA), Indiana University (USA), and Hong Kong University (Hong Kong SAR).

Key Publications

  • Cook, I., Hobson, K., Hallett IV, L., Guthman, J., Murphy, A., Hulme, A., Sheller, M., Crewe, L., Nally, D., Roe, E., Mather, C., Kingsbury, P., Slocum, R., Imai, S., Duruz, J., Philo, C., Buller, H., Goodman, M., Hayes-Conroy, A., Hayes-Conroy, J., Tucker, L., Blake, M.K., Le Heron, R., Putnam, H., Maye, D. and Henderson, H. (2011). Geographies of food: 'Afters'. Progress in Human Geography, 35(1), 104-120.
    doi:10.1177/0309132510369035
  • Blake, M.K., Mellor, J.C.L. and Crane, L. (2010). Buying Local Food: Shopping Practices, Place, and Consumption Networks in Defining Food as "Local". Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 100(2), 409-426.
    doi:10.1080/00045601003595545
  • Mellor, J.C.L., Blake, M.K. and Crane, L. (2010). When I'm Doing a Dinner Party I Don't Go for the Tesco Cheeses; Gendered Class Distinctions, Friendship and Home Entertaining. Food, Culture and Society, 13(1), 115-134.
    doi:10.2752/175174410X12549021368180
  • Blake, M.K., Mellor, J.C.L., Crane, L. and Osz, B. (2009). Eating in time; Eating up time. In: Jackson, P.A. (ed.) Changing Families, Changing Food. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. 187-205. ISBN 9780230223981
  • Blake, M.K. (2008). It takes a village: women's entrepreneurship, resource networks and place. VDM Verlag, Saarbrücken.
  • Hanson, S. and Blake, M.K. (2008). Gender and Entrepreneurial Networks. Regional Studies
    doi:10.1080/00343400802251452
  • Blake, M.K. (2007). Formality and Friendship: Research ethics review and Participatory Action Research. ACME, 6(3), 411-421.
    Online PDF
  • Blake, M.K. and Hanson, S. (2005). Rethinking Innovation: Context and Gender. Environment and Planning A, 37(4), 681-701.
    doi:10.1068/a3710
  • Bailey, A.J., Blake, M.K., and Cooke, T.J. (2004). Migration, Care and the Linked Lives of dual-earner households. Environment and Planning A 36(9), 1617-1632.
    doi:10.1068/a36198

See Publications List for complete listing

Public Engagements

Megan actively develops public engagement activities as part of her research and teaching.
Public Engagements in 2015:

In May, Megan contributed to national debates through the publication of a commentary on the Conservative manifesto’s response to food poverty in the UK. The article, Why one of the wealthiest countries in the world is failing to feed its people, was initially published in The Conversation republished by The Independent as A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people, 25 May 2015 . (49,191 readers)

Megan spoke to a group of students outlining the ways the main political parties propose to address food poverty should they win the UK general election as part of a panel of academics. The panel was organised by the Geography Society to inform students about UK the general election in May, 2015.

Megan spoke to a group of Sheffield University alumni in Hong Kong about her research on Food Insecurity and Supermarketisation in Hong Kong. March, 2015.

In January, Megan organised the hosting of an expert hearing on the environmental aspects of UK Food and Poverty. This is part of an independent, non-partisan Commission on Food and Poverty organised by the Fabian Society and sponsored by the Esmé Fariburn Foundation. The in collaboration with the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, Research Exchange for the Social Sciences (RESS), the Department of Geography, and the Fabian Society, the hearing will give evidence and solicit comment from academic and industry experts and the public, which will then be fed into reports to be published by the Fabian’s in the spring (interim report) and Summer (final report) of 2015.

Research focused engagements in 2014 included:

  • Organising and running the Festival of Social Sciences Decent Helpings event, in collaboration with Research Exchange for the Social Sciences (RESS) and the South Yorkshire Local Authorities University Network (SYLAUN). More detail about the event can be found here. The event featured a range of speakers and a collaborative activity aimed at identifying a bottom up research agenda on aspects of food justice. More than 65 people attended the event.
  • Participating as a storyteller in the Tales from the Ivory Tower, University of Sheffield Festival of the Mind (The video is available on ITunesU under the title Barbequed Sparrow, Anyone? See the video here
  • In collaboration with the Third Sector Café facilitated an event focusing on Food for third sector and small businesses in Sheffield. For more on this event see here.

Teaching related public engagements in 2014

  • In collaboration with the Sheffield University Libraries, Megan helped develop and introduce the Mapping Sheffield exhibit, which involved also a number of first year students who analysed historical data and developed one of the displays. See more on the exhibit here.

From 2011-2013, while on special leave from the University of Sheffield, Megan spent time at the University of Hong Kong and at Hong Kong Baptist University. While there she developed and received funding (approx. £350,000) for the Da Tong (打通) Project. The primary aim of the Da Tong Project is to support culture change at HKBU, so as to enable interdisciplinary activity to flourish. The project is based on the principle that research and public engagement that is interdisciplinary first involves learning how to integrate knowledges and modes of thinking from multiple disciplines. To achieve this learning the project brings together in active engagement for a limited time (2 years), scholars, industry, and third sector organisations who are interested in a broad topic, but approach that topic from a range of perspectives. The initial collaborative topics funded through the Da Tong proposal are Food and Environment.

Other information

Since 2002, I have been an expert evaluator for the European Commission. I also provide peer review for national and international research councils including the UK ESRC, the US National Science Foundation, and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

From 2011-2013, I spent time away from Sheffield on special leave in Hong Kong. During this time I taught students at Hong Kong University. The students were assessed via web pages that they produced. You can learn more about my approach to teaching and find their pages here.

I was elected as councillor for the Economic Geography Research Group of the AAG from 2008 to 2010.

Post-Graduate Supervision

Since starting at Sheffield I have supervised or co-supervised 9 PhD students funded from a range of sources and an equal number of Masters Students.

University Administration and service

I am currently the Deputy Director of Teaching and Learning for the Department of Geography. Previously I have been the director of PGT courses for the department. I was also departmental library liaison, the international tutor (also responsible for Study Abroad and Erasmus exchanges), and Women’s tutor. I have been a member of University Senate and sat on the Female Academic Plan Steering Group.

More information can be found on my Linked In page.