James Heydon

A Criminological Analysis of ‘Sustainable Development’: Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Rights and Environmental Regulation in the Canadian Oil Sands.

Email: Jwheydon1@Sheffield.ac.uk
Supervisors: Professor Matthew Hall (University of Lincoln), Dr Sorcha Macleod and Professor Paul Knepper.


BA (Hons) Criminology
MA (Hons) International Criminal Justice
Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (PGCHE)

Scope of Research

James’ research examines why the First Nations of northern Alberta, Canada, are experiencing culture-based environmental harm as a result of oil sands development, despite the presence of a sophisticated regulatory system tasked with inhibiting its occurrence. Allowing for an examination into the criminogenic potential of ‘sustainable development’, the research seeks to understand how provincial policies governing expansion of the oil sands industry are operationalising a harmful philosophy of environment through provincial regulatory mechanisms. As a necessary component to this, James’ research also evaluates how such mechanisms legitimate infringements of First Nation Treaty Rights and also those international human rights which hold similar relevance.

Conference Presentations

(2015) ‘Indigenous Peoples, Environmental Victimisation and the Material-Social Nature of ‘Green Crime’, European Society of Criminology, University of Porto, Portugal, September 2015.
(2015) ‘The Criminogenic Potential of ‘Sustainable Development’: Indigenous Experiences of Environmental Harm in the Canadian Oil Sands’, British Society of Criminology, University of Plymouth, 2nd July 2015.
(2015) ‘Fieldwork at -40: Reflecting on the Challenges Associated with Investigating Harmful Activities of the Powerful during the Canadian Winter’, White Rose Doctoral Training Centre Seminar Series, University of Sheffield, 22nd May 2015.
(2015) ‘Understanding the Unity of Consensus-based Regulation and Colonialism in the Cultural Erosion of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples’, School of Law Postgraduate Conference, University of Sheffield, 20th May, 2015.
(2014) ‘The Counter-Hegemonic Potential of a Green State-Corporate Criminology Rooted in Human Rights: the Case of Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian Oil Sands’, British Society of Criminology Postgraduate Conference 2014, University of Liverpool, July 2014.
(2014) ‘Cultural Genocide and Environmental Harm in the Canadian Oil Sands: Accurate Description or Inaccurate Distraction?’, School of Law Postgraduate Conference, University of Sheffield, June 2014.
(2014) ‘Environmental Harm in the Canadian Oil Sands’ [Poster Presentation], School of Law Postgraduate Conference, University of Sheffield, June 2014.
(2013) ‘State-corporate Complicity in Environmentally Destructive Oil Sands Operations’ [Poster Presentation], School of Law Human Rights Forum, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, December 2013.

Research Roles

Research Assistant on the University of Sheffield project entitled ‘The Socialisation and Internalisation of Human Rights in Private Security Companies’, led by Dr Sorcha Macleod. This is funded by the Innovation, Impact and Knowledge Exchange Collaborative R&D Award, in partnership with MSS Global Services (01/07/14 – 01/08/2015).

Research Assistant for Dr Sorcha Macleod, 3rd Session of the United Nations International Working Group on the Regulation, Monitoring and Oversight of Private Military and Security Companies, Palace of Nations, Geneva, Switzerland (25/06/14 – 30/07/14).

Teaching Roles

Tutor on the Understanding Criminology module for first and third year undergraduate students (2014-2015).

Mentor on the School of Law’s Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), ‘Crime, Justice and Society’, delivered through the Future Learn platform (September 2015 – present).

Other Roles

Rapporteur for the ESRC Seminar Series – Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: From Rhetoric to Practice, University of Sheffield, Sheffield (24/01/14).

Postgraduate Student Representative, School of Law (2015-2016).


Economic and Social Research Council White Rose Scholarship (2013-2017).
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2012 onwards).

Research Clusters

Centre for Criminological Research
Sheffield Centre for International and European Law


European Society of Criminology.
British Society of Criminology.
European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control.
The Extreme Energy Initiative, Human Rights Consortium, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Socio-Legal Studies Association.