Dr Steve Connelly
Room number: D11f
Telephone (internal): 26916
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 6916
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 6916
I graduated from Oxford with a BA in Physics & Philosophy and then took up a career in overseas development. I was awarded an MSc in Forestry and its Relation to Land Use by the Oxford Forestry Institute in 1988. Having worked in India, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Eritrea I returned to the UK with a commitment to public participation in governance and sustainable development, and an intellectual interest in why these desirable goals are often not achieved. This led to a PhD, at Sheffield’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning, on the impact of local authority policy processes on public involvement in Local Agenda 21. I was appointed as Lecturer in the Department in 2002 and Senior Lecturer in 2011. My principal administrative role in the department is as the Director of our Research School.
Outside the University I am the academic member of the Advisory Board for the Dept. for Communities and Local Government's 'Communities Fund' which provides funding to local authorities working with community groups to deliver solutions in fields such as adult social care.
I'm also a member of the Nuclear Consulting Group, a group of leading academics and experts in a diverse range of social science and technical fields related to nuclear energy. The Group exists to promote open dialogue and critical questioning of taken for granted policy assumptions. I have also been very active for several years in a campaign through which we created a social enterprise which owns and manages Portland Works, a unique part of Sheffield's industrial heritage.
My research is connected to the core question: in a policy making world dominated by 'process' norms of public participation and partnership, what happens to substantive values? In particular I'm intrigued and concerned by questions about how and why apparently widely-valued outcomes (such as 'democratic governance' and 'sustainable communities') do not become dominant. Most of my work has focused on issues of environmental sustainability, justice and democracy, and recently I have developed an interest in how governance changes ('integration') affect welfare services provision. I’m interested in these issues in the global North and the South, and have carried out field research work in Whitehall, Sheffield, the Peak District National Park, Egypt and South Africa.
Flowing from the ‘core question’ above has been research in several interlinked areas: public and other stakeholder engagement with complex governance structures; planning for sustainable development in both democratic and non-democratic societies; the role of professionals in mediating values in planning and development; explaining ‘governance’ through the interaction of discourses and institutional structures; critical realist policy analysis. My basic perspective is constructionist, and my research is mainly concerned with learning how those involved in governance understand and enact representation and the legitimation of people, practices and knowledge. I am particularly interested in knowledge processes within governance - the creation of authoritative knowledge through evaluation, and the ways in which stakeholder groups coproduce knowledge. Listen to me talking about 'representation' here.
I have recently been involved in three projects:
Previous research has included: comparing participation from the planner's perspective in the contrasting political environments of Egypt and South Africa; investigating how community-run organisations construct and maintain their legitimacy in the context of urban regeneration in the UK; and investigating the stakeholder and discursive processes involved in sustainable river corridor development, including interdisciplinary knowledge creation by engineers, designers, ecologists and social scientists.
My current teaching is on sustainable development as a concept, planning and informality in the Global South, and principles of social science research for the Faculty’s doctoral students. Throughout I draw directly on my current and recent research, and also on principles of student-centred teaching developed within the university and in previous work in community adult education.
I currently teach on the following modules:
I supervise a group of PhD students who share overlapping interests and welcome applications for PhD study from people interested in joining this exciting and innovative group.
I currently provide primary supervision to the following students: