Professor Jenny Pickerill
Department of Geography
Professor in Environmental Geography
Internal phone number: 27960
+44 114 222 7960
Full contact details
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Jenny’s research connects three themes:
- Environment: a social science approach to how we understand, value and (ab)use the environment
- Difference: the importance of social justice, inequality, colonialism, racism and neo-liberalism in how the environment is understood
- Experiments: inspiring grassroots solutions to environmental problems and hopeful and positive ways in which we can change social practices
As a geographer Jenny is interested in how these different issues connect, relate and entangle at different scales and in diverse places. She has conducted research in Britain, Australia, USA, Spain, Thailand and Argentina.
Jenny developed these interests through an undergraduate degree and PhD in Geography at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and a MSc in Geographical Information Systems at Edinburgh University. She taught at the universities of Curtin (Australia) and Leicester (England) before taking up a Chair in Environmental Geography at the University of Sheffield in 2014.
- Research interests
Why the environment is valued, or not, is crucial in understanding humans’ everyday practices, climate change and resource issues. Humans have complex relationships with the environment that need to be examined using social science research techniques. The apparent inability of humans to neither adequately mitigate climate change nor prepare through adaptation is a case in point. Jenny has researched how environmental activists have sought to communicate particular understandings of the environment through a variety of technologies (Cyberprotest: Environmental Activism Online, 2003). She is interested in how environmental campaigns are framed, for example around ‘wilderness’ (From wilderness to WildCountry, 2008, Black and Green: The future of Indigenous-environmentalist relations in Australia, 2019), and in how activists mobilise to ‘save’ particular types of environment while ignoring other places (Finding Common Ground, 2009). Most recently she is working on how environmentalism can be reconceived by examining everyday forms of activism in particular places, and the changing forms of forest activism in Tasmania.
Difference is a measure by which individuals, societies, and even nations seek to distinguish themselves. It is a measure of separation (as being unlike someone) and distinctiveness. In its assertion it creates an “other”—those we are not. Forms of difference have been grouped into broad social categories such as class, gender, race or ethnicity, and sexuality. However, difference can be asserted using any criterion, such as language, nationality, birthplace, religion, ancestry, and profession. It can also be tied to particular places and operates across many scales. Jenny is interested in how differences are included in a variety of activist campaigns such as autonomous activism (Notes towards autonomous geographies, 2006 with Paul Chatterton), the Occupy! Movement (Why does Occupy matter?, 2012), anti-war activism (Anti-War Activism, 2008 with Kevin Gillan and Frank Webster), and Australian environmental activism (Finding Common Ground, 2009, Black and Green: The future of Indigenous-environmentalist relations in Australia, 2019). She is also concerned with developing ways in which different knowledges (particularly Australian indigenous knowledge) are valued and respected (Radicalising relationships to and through shared geographies, 2012 and Doings with the land and the sea, 2019, both with Adam Barker). In researching difference Jenny has worked on issues of research ethics (Research Ethics and Social Movements, forthcoming, with Kevin Gillan) and is interested in developing more participatory and engaged methodologies that are able to accommodate diversity.
After researching environmental protest and activism for many years Jenny developed an interest in experimental solutions to environmental problems (Experimentations, 2019). This stemmed from a recognition that activists were often advocating and practicing alternatives to contemporary capitalist lifestyles, but that there was a lack of research examining the potential of these innovations. Moreover, she believed that Universities should be advocating solutions to existing problems and there was a need to encourage geographers to be more explicit about the societal contributions that their work makes (Beyond scholar activism, 2010). Jenny has a particular interest in affordable self-build eco-housing (Eco-Homes: People, Place and Politics, 2016, Cold comfort?, 2015, Bodies, building and bricks, 2015, Critically Interrogating Eco-Homes, 2017). She has also attempted to teach environmental issues in a hopeful way that empowers students to make changes for their future. In this future orientated work it is particularly necessary to understand and employ emotions, especially hope, but also guilt, fear and anger (Space for emotion in the spaces of activism, 2009, with Gavin Brown).
Jenny’s current research focuses on two interconnected projects:
1. The potential and possibilities of eco-homes and eco-communities
The main focus of this research is in analyzing the social, geographical and political questions of eco-homes and eco-communities. Based on worldwide empirical research with over thirty examples of affordable eco-housing (funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust) Jenny has written a book Eco-Homes: People, Place and Politics (2016) and a blog full of case study examples. This research also explores particular dynamics within the eco-building movement, such as the lack of women eco-builders (published in an article in Gender, Place and Culture, 2015). She is currently working on understanding the urban potential of eco-communities (funded by the Urban Studies Foundation and Independent Social Research Foundation).
This project interrogates the state of environmentalism in the global north, and develops a new analytical framework to explore the diverse contributions of environmentalism to contemporary societal politics and culture. Jenny is particular interested in how the value of environmentalism can be understood, while simultaneously acknowledging the limitations of many existing practices and approaches to such activism. This research pulls together a number of preceding projects on, for example, processes of greening the economy in northern Australia (British Academy funded), rethinking processes of sustainability transitions (ESRC funded), work with Indigenous activists in Australia, research on autonomous geographies (ESRC funded) and a Flinders University Research Fellowship on everyday environmentalism (2016).
- View this article in WRRO Eco-Homes: People, Place and Politics. London: Zed Books.
- Cyberprotest: Environmental activism online.
- Anti-War Activism. Palgrave Macmillan UK.
- Occupy! A global movement. Routledge.
- Research Ethics and Social Movements: Scholarship, Activism and Knowledge Production. Routledge.
- Low Impact Development. Online:.
- Doings with the land and sea: Decolonising geographies, Indigeneity, and enacting place-agency. Progress in Human Geography. View this article in WRRO
- Sustainable communities and green lifestyles: consumption and environmentalism. Local Environment, 23(12), 1225-1226. View this article in WRRO
- Black and Green: The future of Indigenous-environmentalist relations in Australia. Environmental Politics. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Beyond electoralism: reflections on anarchy, populism, and the crisis of electoral politics. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 16(4), 607-642.
- What are we fighting for? Ideological posturing and anarchist geographies. Dialogues in Human Geography, 7(3), 251-256. View this article in WRRO
- Critically Interrogating Eco-Homes. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 41(2), 353-365. View this article in WRRO
- Making space for disability in eco-homes and eco-communities. The Geographical Journal, 182(4), 406-417. View this article in WRRO
- Cold Comfort? Reconceiving the Practices of Bathing in British Self-Build Eco-Homes. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 105(5), 1061-1077. View this article in WRRO
- The Timeliness of Impact: Impacting Who, When, and for Whose Gain?. ACME : An International e-Journal for Critical Geographies, 13(1), 24-26.
- Bodies, building and bricks: Women architects and builders in eight eco-communities in Argentina, Britain, Spain, Thailand and USA. Gender, Place and Culture, 22(7), 901-919. View this article in WRRO
- Academics’ diverse online public communications. Dialogues in Human Geography, 3(1), 85-86.
- Epistemologies of Participation, or, What Do Critical Human Geographers Know That's of Any Use?. Antipode, 45(2), 252-255.
- Reanimating Anarchist Geographies: A New Burst of Colour. Antipode, 44(5), 1591-1604.
- The Difficult and Hopeful Ethics of Research on, and with, Social Movements. Social Movement Studies, 11(2), 133-143.
- Holding the Future Together: Towards a Theorisation of the Spaces and Times of Transition. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 44(7), 1607-1623.
- Radicalizing Relationships To and Through Shared Geographies: Why Anarchists Need to Understand Indigenous Connections to Land and Place. Antipode, 44(5), 1705-1725.
- Why Does Occupy Matter?. Social Movement Studies, 11(3-4), 279-287.
- The buildings of Ecovillages: Exploring the processess and practices of eco-housing. Rachel Carson Center Perspectives, 99-110.
- In, against and beyond capitalism. The messy spaces, practices and identities of everyday activism in the UK. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35(4), 475-490.
- Beyond scholar activism: Making strategic interventions inside and outside the neoliberal university. ACME, 9(2), 245-275.
- Editorial: Activism and emotional sustainability. Emotion, Space and Society, 2(1), 1-3.
- Geographies of Sustainability: Low Impact Developments and Radical Spaces of Innovation. Geography Compass, 3(4), 1515-1539.
- Space for emotion in the spaces of activism. Emotion, Space and Society, 2(1), 24-35.
- Symbolic production, representation and contested identities: Anti-war activism online. Information, Communication and Society, 12(7), 969-993.
- Finding common ground? Spaces of dialogue and the negotiation of Indigenous interests in environmental campaigns in Australia. Geoforum, 40(1), 66-79.
- Open Access Publishing: Hypocrisy and Confusion in Geography. Antipode, 40(5), 719-723.
- The Information Environment of War. Sociology Compass, 2(6), 1833-1847.
- The Surprising Sense of Hope. Antipode, 40(3), 482-487.
- Transnational anti-war activism: Solidarity, diversity and the Internet in Australia, Britain and the United states after 9/11. Australian Journal of Political Science, 43(1), 59-78.
- From wilderness to WildCountry: the power of language in environmental campaigns in Australia. Environmental Politics, 17(1), 95-104.
- ‘Autonomy Online’: Indymedia and Practices of Alter-Globalisation. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 39(11), 2668-2684.
- The Anti-War/Peace Movement in Britain and the Conditions of Information War. International Relations, 20(4), 407-423.
- Notes towards autonomous geographies: creation, resistance and self-management as survival tactics. Progress in Human Geography, 30(6), 730-746.
- Radical Politics on the Net. Parliamentary Affairs, 59(2), 266-282.
- . Cities, 22(4), 331-332.
- Environmentalists' internet activism in Britain. Peace Review, 13(3), 365-370.
- Spreading the green word? Using the Internet for environmental campaigning. Ecos, 21(1), 14-24.
- Leak detection from rural aqueducts using airborne remote sensing techniques. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 19(12), 2427-2433.
- Everyday activism and transitions towards post-capitalist worlds. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35(4), 475-490.
- Environmentalists and the net: Pressure groups, new social movements and New ICTs, Reinvigorating Democracy?: British Politics and the Internet (pp. 129-150).
- Radical Geography In NA (Ed.), The Wiley-AAG International Encyclopaedia of Geography: People, the earth, Environment, and Technology
- View this article in WRRO Eco-Homes for all: Why the socio-cultural matters in encouraging eco-building In Benson & Hamiduddin (Ed.), Self-Build Homes London: UCL Press.
- Why does occupy matter?, Occupy! A Global Movement (pp. 1-9).
- The Environment and Environmentalism In Daniels P, Bradshaw M, Shaw D & Sidaway J (Ed.), Human Geography: issues for the 21st Century Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
- Who builds the house? In Bunker S, Coates C, Dennis J & How J (Ed.), Low Impact Living Communities in Britain. A Diggers and Dreamers Review London: D&D Publications.
- Permaculture in practice: Low impact development in Britain, Environmental Anthropology Engaging Ecotopia: Bioregionalism, Permaculture, and Ecovillages (pp. 180-194).
- Chapter 4 Low Impact Development: Radical Housing Solutions from the Grassroots Foot notes, Enterprising Communities: Grassroots Sustainability Innovations (pp. 65-83).
- The Environment and Environmentalism In Daniels P, Bradshaw M, Shaw D & Sidaway J (Ed.), Human Geography: issues for the 21st century Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
- Chapter 4 Low Impact Development: Radical Housing Solutions from the Grassroots, Advances in Ecopolitics (pp. 65-83). Emerald Group Publishing Limited
- Scales of Activism: New Media and Transnational Connections in Anti-War Movements In Cottle S & Lester L (Ed.), Transnational Protests and the Media Peter Land Publishing
- We have to adapt culturally to climate change In Firth L (Ed.), Issues: Tackling Climate Change, Key Stage 3 Independence Educational Publishers
- Building liveable cities; urban Low Impact Development as low carbon solutions? In Bulkeley H, Castan Broto V, Hodson M & Marvin S (Ed.), Cities and Low Carbon Transitions Routledge
- Campaigning in a Changing Information Environment: The Anti-war and Peace Movement in Britain, International Handbook of Internet Research (pp. 217-231). Springer Netherlands
- Valuing the Environment In Daniels P, Bradshaw M, Shaw D & Sidaway J (Ed.), Human Geography: issues for the 21st century Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
- Environment and Environmentalism In Daniels P, Bradshaw M, Shaw D & Sidaway J (Ed.), Human Geography: issues for the 21st century Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
- Weaving a green web: Environmental protests and computer mediated communication in Britain In Webster F (Ed.), Culture and Politics in the Information Age (pp. 142-166). London: Routledge.
- Pressure Groups, New Social Movements and New ICTs: Greens and the Net In Ward S & Gibson R (Ed.), Reinvigorating Government? British Politics and the Internet Aldershot: Ashgate.
- Space, Power and the Commons Routledge View this article in WRRO
- Cities and Low Carbon Transitions Routledge
- The Surprising Sense of Hope, Practising Public Scholarship (pp. 132-137). Wiley-Blackwell
- Electronic Democracy Routledge
- Teaching interests
My undergraduate teaching interests include:
Environmental geography: values, social movements, indigenous knowledges and rights, climate change mitigation and adaptation, eco-housing and eco-communities
Fieldwork and participatory approaches: destinations include eco-communities in Nottinghamshire, SW USA and New York
Critical geopolitics: understanding neoliberalism and resistance to capitalism
I have supervised numerous doctoral students, current and recent topics include:
- The brick as a cultural impediment to eco-housing
- The attitudes, behaviour and practices of engagement of Japanese university students with sustainable living and adaptations to climate change
- The impact of coastal change as a result of climate change on the sustainability and adaptation of coastal communities in England
- (Re)Ordering the New World: Settler colonialism, space and identity
- Restoration from Within - Developing Restoration Action Plans Through Ecological and Community Knowledge in Kalimantan, Indonesia
- The future of responsible lending in India; Perceptions of sustainability and the environment
I would be interested in supervising PhD students in topics such as environmental geographies; grassroot environmental solutions; Indigenous geographies; eco-building; geographies of sustainability transitions; environmental justice; collective action; and participatory methodologies.