Research interest: Integrated urban infrastructures
Supervisor: Aidan While
I graduated from a BA (Hons) degree in Politics and Media Studies at Northumbria University in 2003, before spending six years working as a journalist in the north east of England. I was shortlisted in the 2006 Tom Cordner awards in the trainee journalist of the year category. I returned to academia in 2012, carrying out a research masters in Geography at Durham University, examining the social aspects of smart energy grids in Austin, Texas, before spending six months working on Durham’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission in 2013.
I also have a Masters in Journalism from Sunderland University and a PG (Dip) in Politics Research from Newcastle University.
My research interests cover the construction of markets and state institutions, the varieties and cultures of capitalism and the associated impacts on urban infrastructure networks, as well as the societal impacts of new technologies and consumer behaviour.
Current Research: Integrating Urban Infrastructures
This project involves investigating the evolving context and the potential of infrastructural integration, exploring its meanings and implications in theory and practice. The research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). In recent years there has been a growing interest in the potential for resource and service efficiencies, as well as technical innovation, through various types of ‘infrastructural integration’. Although there is broad agreement about the importance (and the potential) of integration, precisely what this means in practice is unclear. It could be argued that the term itself is a chaotic conception, an abstract aspiration or a guiding principle. The concept raises a lot of questions for practice and for future research. This project will identify the possibilities for integration in urban settings and seek to identify the capacities, opportunities and barriers that exist in order for large social-technical assemblages to be integrated with each other and within wider society. The research involves an in-depth urban case study approach and will contribute to a growing academic and policy debate about the role of institutions, technologies and urban infrastructural futures within an urban engineering framework. It will attempt to answer questions related to what infrastructures can be integrated and why, who decides, who benefits, and what governance frameworks are in place and need to be in place for integration to occur. The project has five research questions:
- What is meant by the term integrated infrastructure?
- What is and is not being integrated in practice?
- Which economic, social or political conditions exist in an urban environment that facilitate or constrain infrastructural integration, and what is the impact?
- What are the capacities, opportunities or barriers for integration?
- What are the social, economic and political ramifications for integrating urban infrastructures?
I have taught on the following modules at Sheffield University:
McLean, A, Bulkeley, H, Crang, M. (2015) Negotiating the Urban Smart Grid: Socio-Technical Experimentation in the City of Austin. Urban Studies. In press.
Powells, G, Bulkeley, H, McLean, A. Geographies of Smart Urban Power. In Marvin, S; Luque-Ayala, A; McFarlane, C, ed. Smart Urbanism: Utopian Vision or False Dawn? London: Routledge, 2015.