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
Research Website: https://upgro.org/consortium/hidden-crisis2/


I am a development scholar with a primary focus on environmental and natural resource governance. My research is inherently interdisciplinary, combining a diverse background in international development, the social sciences, biology, and philosophy. 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 primary 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

Broadly speaking, I am interested in how power and meaning mediate the relationship between humans and the environment. My publications reflect a breadth of theoretical, methodological, and empirical work that together characterise my approach to understanding this relationship in the context of development. I am a natural synthesizer, working on and across boundaries to further meaningful interdisciplinary research. This boundary-spanning work includes socio-technical approaches for understanding key sustainability challenges to rural water supply in Africa; the deepening of environmental governance theory with more critical social science insights on process, power, and meaning; the development of a multi-disciplinary framework for analysing institutions for natural resource governance; and philosophical theorising on understandings of self and other, a core concern in critical development research.

At present I am developing a research agenda that combines the arts and sciences to explore the role of people’s worldviews and different knowledge systems in shaping access to land and water in rural Africa (Uganda, Ghana, Namibia). The research has important implications for the lives and livelihoods of women and other vulnerable groups. It will, 1) generate novel insights about rural governance and livelihoods dynamics concerning land and water, and 2) develop collaborative processes and tools that facilitate practical action toward more socially just and sustainable rural economies and societies.

Current Research

I work as a post-doctoral researcher on a £1.89 million ESRC/DFID/NERC funded consortium project entitled Hidden Crisis: Unravelling Current Failure for Future Success. We are an international, interdisciplinary team investigating the sustainability challenges to rural groundwater supply in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda. I play a key role in furthering research and policy engagement on groundwater governance, institutions, livelihoods, and development. I lead on designing and undertaking original research, project management of the social science component across the three countries, training in-country field researchers, and engagement with international development policy and practice communities.


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., Bonsor, H., Cleaver, F., MacDonald, A., Mwathunga, E., Banda, S., Katusiime, F. and Tadesse, Y. 2018. Evidence, ideology, and the policy of community management in Africa. Environmental Research Letters, in press.

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.