Dr Thomas VerbeekThomas Verbeek

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Room number: D21
Email: t.verbeek@sheffield.ac.uk


I joined the Department as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (2019-2022) working on social justice and urban air pollution policies.

I am a geographer and urban planner and obtained my PhD in Urbanism and Spatial Planning at Ghent University (2017), with a doctoral dissertation on Environmental Health and Urban Planning. The empirical part of my doctoral research consisted of spatial data analysis, interviews and a residents’ survey in a local case study on traffic-related air pollution and noise in Ghent, in collaboration with the city council and a local citizen initiative. During my time at Ghent University I was also appointed as a teaching assistant, I contributed to several rural policy research projects on behalf of the Flemish Government, and I was secretary of the Think Tank Climate Adaptation Flanders for a while.

Prior to taking up the Leverhulme fellowship, I worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Warwick (2017-2019) on the ERC Project “Toxic Expertise: Environmental Justice and the Global Petrochemical Industry”. Within this project, I carried out a corporate network analysis of global petrochemical corporations and a case study on public risk perception of the Antwerp petrochemical complex.


My research has always focused on environment-society interactions, using both quantitative and qualitative methods and collaborating with stakeholders from the public sector and civil society.

My future research interests lie in the interdisciplinary fields of environmental pollution, urban health, environmental policy and urban planning. I am particularly interested in the ‘just sustainability’ challenge, i.e. developing policies that not only lead to greater environmental sustainability, but also greater social justice.

In my Leverhulme project “Cleaner air at all costs? A social justice perspective on urban air pollution” I focus on fairness issues associated with air quality policies. The project combines social and environmental justice in a unified analytical frame and applies it to urban air pollution and its policies through an empirical study of Low Emission Zones in London and Brussels. It uses data analysis, interviews and a residents’ survey to examine procedural justice, recognition of local communities, and interpretations of environmental and social justice by decisionmakers and citizens. This interdisciplinary project significantly adds to ongoing academic debates and responds to the urgency of tackling urban air pollution.


Journal Articles

Verbeek, T. (2019). Unequal residential exposure to air pollution and noise: A geospatial environmental justice analysis for Ghent, Belgium. SSM - Population Health, 7, 100340. doi:10.1016/j.ssmph.2018.100340
Verbeek, T. (2018). The relation between objective and subjective exposure to traffic noise around two suburban highway viaducts in Ghent: lessons for urban environmental policy. Local Environment, 23(4), 448-467. doi:10.1080/13549839.2018.1428791
Verbeek, T., & Boelens, L. (2016). Environmental health in the complex city: a co-evolutionary approach. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 59(11), 1913-1932. doi:10.1080/09640568.2015.1127800
Verbeek, T., & Tempels, B. (2016). Measuring fragmentation of open space in urbanised Flanders: An evaluation of four methods. BELGEO, 2, 1-20. doi:10.4000/belgeo.17164
Verbeek, T., Boussauw, K., & Pisman, A. (2014). Presence and trends of linear sprawl: Explaining ribbon development in the north of Belgium. Landscape and Urban Planning, 128, 48-59. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.04.022