Dr Ruth Little

Lecturer in Human Geography

Ruth Little

Email: Ruth.Little@Sheffield.ac.uk
Room number: E15
Telephone (internal): 27990
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7990
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7990


Ruth Little is a qualitative social scientist specialising in agricultural and food-related research. Since 2012, Ruth has divided her time between the University of Sheffield and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), first working with the Animal and Plant Health Evidence and Analysis (APHEA) team and latterly with the Environmental Land Management team on the redesign of the post-Brexit agricultural payments system. Her research has included a focus on animal and plant health management, policy evaluation and piloting innovative approaches to increase involvement of stakeholders and the wider public in decision-making on policies related to agriculture and the environment. Ruth has recently been awarded an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grant under the Governance After Brexit programme to analyse the future development of agri-environmental policies.

Ruth has over 15 years research experience conducting interdisciplinary agri-food projects funded by the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU), the ESRC and Defra. Before this, Ruth completed her PhD in collaboration with the Soil Association on collective food purchasing groups and food co-ops.

Research Associates - Dr Judith Tsouvalis and Dr Sam Outhwaite

Publications Little, R. A. (2019). Negotiated management strategies for bovine tuberculosis: enhancing risk mitigation in Michigan and the UK. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 6, 81
Chen, R. Little, R.A. Mihaylova, L. Delahay, R. Cox, R. (in press) Wildlife Monitoring With Deep Learning Methods Ecology and Evolution
Little, R.
, Wheeler, K., Edge, S. (2017) Developing a risk-based trading scheme for cattle in England: farmer perspectives on managing trading risk for bovine tuberculosis Veterinary Record
Hamilton-Webb, A., Naylor, R., Little, R., & Maye, D. (2016). Compensation and exotic livestock disease management: the views of animal keepers and veterinarians in England. The Veterinary record.
Naylor, R., Hamilton‐Webb, A., Little, R., & Maye, D. (2016). The ‘good farmer': Farmer identities and the control of exotic livestock disease in England. Sociologia Ruralis.
Ilbery, B., Maye, D., Ingram, J. and Little, R. (2013) Risk and plant disease management: supply chain perspectives in the UK wheat sector. Journal of Rural and Community Development.
Ilbery, B., Maye, D., Ingram, J. and Little, R. (2013) Risk perception, crop protection and plant disease in the UK wheat sector Geoforum.
Pautasso, P., Dehnen-Schmutz, K., Ilbery, B., Jeger, M., Jones, J., Little, R., MacLeod, A., Maye, D., Parker, S., Pietravalle, S., and Mills, P. (2012) Plant health challenges for a sustainable land use and rural economy CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, 7 (063).
Maye, D., Ilbery, B. and Little, R. (2012) Rationalising risk: grower strategies to manage plant disease in the UK wheat and potato sectors. The Geographical Journal, 178, 338–347.
Ilbery, B., Maye, D. and Little, R. (2012) Plant disease risk and grower-agronomist perceptions and relationships: an analysis of the UK potato and wheat sectors. Applied Geography, 34, 306-315.
Mills, P., Dehnen-Schmutz, K., Ilbery, B., Jeger, M., Jones, G., Little, R., MacLeod, A., Parker, S., Pautasso, M., Pietravalle, S. and Maye, D. (2011) Integrating natural and social science perspectives on plant disease risk, management and policy formulation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 366, 2035–2044.
Little, R., Maye, D. and Ilbery, B. (2010) Collective purchase: moving local and organic foods beyond the niche market. Environment and Planning A, 42, 1797–1813.

Relevant Publications and Reports (peer-reviewed):

Naylor, R., Hamilton-Webb, A., Little, R., Maye, D., Edwards, E., Charles, J., Foy, R., Curzon, S., Reed, M., Manning, L. and Hemmings, A. (2015) Exotic Disease Compensation Review: Behaviours Project – Part 2 (Primary Research) SE4309. Report to Defra


Ruth Little currently teaches on several undergraduate modules including:

  • GEO115 Introduction to Environmental Geographies
  • GEO248 Research Design for Geography and Environmental Science

Postgraduate Supervision

Ruth Little is currently supervising three PhD students funded by the Grantham Centre and other sources. Enquiries from prospective PhD students are always welcome.

Other Information

Ruth Little is a member of the Joint Defra-Natural England Expert Panel on Social Science Evidence for Improving Environmental Land Management Outcomes and the Defra bTB biosecurity advisory group. She is also on the technical advisory board for the TB Advisory Service.