Dr Luke Whaley

Luke WhaleyRoom number: C02
Telephone (internal): 27914
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7914
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7914
Email: L.Whaley@Sheffield.ac.uk


I am a Global Challenges Research Fellow based in the Department of Geography and the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID). My primary research focus is on environmental and natural resource governance. My approach to research is collaborative and interdisciplinary, geared towards the generation of critical knowledge and practical change in the world. I focus on ways of enhancing social justice in the face of inequality and adaptive capacity in the face of social-ecological change and uncertainty. My regional expertise lies in Sub-Saharan Africa (including Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe). I have also carried out research in Europe (the UK and Italy) and India.


Research Interests

My research is concerned with how power and meaning mediate relationships between humans and with the environment. I focus in particular on land and water governance in Africa by working across the social and physical sciences, arts and humanities. My publications reflect a breadth of theoretical, methodological, and empirical work that together characterise my approach to understanding human-environment relations in the context of development.

Current Research

I am leading a two-year research project in Eastern Uganda, investigating how people’s worldviews shape access to land and water. Anthropologists and sociologists have shown how worldviews (beliefs, interpretations, and common sense knowledge) fundamentally shape patterns of access and inequality by legitimising particular practices and relationships whilst restricting others. This understanding of worldviews has important implications for rural development but has not been taken up in the literature on natural resource governance and sustainability studies. Moreover, there is little or no understanding of it in development policy and practice. This project addresses this gap, with important implications for developing more inclusive rural governance processes that better account for the interests of women and other vulnerable groups.

The project integrates different disciplinary lenses, combining a mixture of social science methods, yearlong participant diary keeping, and a participatory arts-based approach to meaningfully engage rural Ugandans in the research process. The knowledge this process generates will be developed into a set of creative elicitation tools (e.g. using theatre and storytelling) that explore land and water governance scenarios with communities and district stakeholders in Eastern Uganda. Using audio and video recording, the same tools will be digitalised and disseminated to development practitioners and edited for broadcast on local radio. The intention is to raise awareness of land and water injustices and generate critical debate for practical action. The voices and experiences of project participants will be shared with international development actors through a one-off performance and discussion event at the annual Bond Conference in London in March 2021.


I teach or have taught on the following Masters and undergraduate modules:

  • Key Issues in Development and Environment
  • Research Design and Methods for Development
  • Geographies of Development
  • Tanzania field class

I am a co-supervisor of one PhD student:

  • David-Paul Pertaub; PhD title: Rule by water? Brokers, Bricoleurs and Borehole
Key Publications

Whaley, L., MacAllister, D. J., Bonsor, H., Mwathunga, E., Banda, S., Katusiime, F., Tadesse, Y., Cleaver, F. and Macdonald, A. 2019. Evidence, ideology, and the policy of community management in Africa. Environmental Research Letters 14(8)

Cleaver, F. and Whaley, L. 2018. Understanding process, power, and meaning in Adaptive Governance: A Critical Institutional reading. Ecology and Society 23(2): 49.

Whaley, L. 2018. The Critical Institutional Analysis and Development (CIAD) Framework. International Journal of the Commons 12(2): 137-161.

Whaley, L. 2018. Geographies of the self: Space, place, and scale revisited. Human Arenas 1(1): 21-36.

Whaley, L. and Cleaver, F. 2017 Can ‘functionality’ save the community management model of rural water supply? Water Resources and Rural Development 9(1): 56-66.

Whaley, L. 2016. Institutionalising transboundary aquifer governance: A process of design or bricolage? (Working Paper No. 4). Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance.

Whaley, L. and Weatherhead, E.K. 2016. Managing water through change and uncertainty: Comparing lessons from the adaptive comanagement literature to recent policy developments in England. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 59(10): 1775-1794.

Whaley, L. and Weatherhead, E.K. 2015. Using the politicized IAD Framework to analyse (adaptive) co-management: Farming and water resources in England. Ecology and Society 20(3): 43.

Whaley, L. and Weatherhead, E.K. 2015. Competition, conflict, and compromise: Three discourses used by irrigators in England and their implications for the comanagement of water resources. Water Alternatives 8(1): 800-819.

Whaley, L. and Weatherhead, E.K. 2015. Power sharing in the English lowlands? The political economy of farmer participation in water governance. Water Alternatives 8(1): 820-843.

Whaley, L. and Weatherhead, E.K. 2014. An integrated approach to analyzing (adaptive) comanagement using the “politicized” IAD Framework. Ecology and Society 19(1): 10.

Whaley, L. 2014. Agriculture and water: Emerging perspectives on farmer cooperation and adaptive co-management. Outlook on Agriculture 43(4): 229-233.

Whaley, L. and Webster, J. 2011. The effectiveness and sustainability of two demand-driven sanitation and hygiene approaches in Zimbabwe. Journal of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Development 1(1): 20-36.