Dr. Luke Whaley


Room number: C02
Telephone (internal): 27914
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7914
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7914
Email: L.Whaley@Sheffield.ac.uk
Research Website: upgro-hidden-crisis.org/

Luke joined the Department of Geography as a postdoctoral Research Associate in November, 2015. He has a BS in Biology and an MSc in Science, Culture, and Communication, from the University of Bath, and an MSc in Water and Development and a PhD in Water Governance, from Cranfield University. Luke has conducted research across a range of countries, including England, Ethiopia, India, Italy, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Research Interests

Broadly speaking, I am interested in how power and meaning mediate the relationship between humans and the environment. My concern is with developing a theoretical and methodological approach capable of critically and constructively engaging with this problematique. I focus on ways of enhancing social justice in the face of inequality, and adaptive capacity in the face of environmental change and uncertainty. More concretely, my interests are:

  • Environmental and natural resource governance
  • The political sociology of water
  • Rural water supply and the African state
  • Social and environmental justice
  • Human development and the environment

Current Research

I am part of a large interdisciplinary project entitled ‘Hidden Crisis: Unravelling Past Failures for Future Success in Rural Water Supply’ (upgro-hidden-crisis.org/). The research is concerned with the sustainability of rural groundwater supply across Sub-Saharan Africa. It is being conducted in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda. I play a key role in developing research and policy engagement to do with issues of groundwater governance, institutions, livelihoods, and development. This includes research design and implementation, project management of the social-science component across the three study countries, and engagement with international development policy and practice communities.

Within and alongside the Hidden Crisis project, I am currently interested in understanding how critical social theory can inform and transform the field of ‘adaptive governance’, especially as it relates to natural resources and the environment. Here I am working toward a theoretical contribution that explores the relationship between adaptive governance scholarship and the school of ‘critical institutionalism’. From a methodological perspective, I am also developing a framework that facilitates critical analyses of commons governance arrangements. The framework core strength is that it facilitates nuanced analyses of the relationship between structure, agency, and situation as they relate to commons governance, whilst at the same time producing findings that are able to talk to the world of policy.


I currently contribute to teaching on two Masters courses:

GEO6806: Key Issues in Development and Environment
GEO6802-GEO6305: Research Design and Methods for Development

Key Publications

  • Whaley, L. and Cleaver, F. (2017) Can ‘functionality’ save the Community Management Model of rural water supply? Water Resources and Rural Development, in 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 56(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.