I am a Reader in Sustainable Consumption, and I lead a programme of research on 'grassroots innovations' for sustainability. I am an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist, linking sustainability policy agendas with ‘new economics’ theories and cutting-edge community-based practice. My teaching on sustainable consumption has won awards for excellence, and I am a UEA Teaching Fellow, developing inspiring and creative, innovative teaching using performaing arts pedagogies and 'comedy in the classroom'.
I lead the Sustainable Consumption strand of the 3S (Science, Society and Sustainability) Research group in the School. My main research interest is around grassroots innovations, which are community-led initiatives which challenge mainstream consumer culture. They aim to establish new systems of provision (for food, housing, money, transport, energy etc) and incorporate both social and technological innovation for sustainability. These collective endeavours embody deep green social and ethical values and experiment with alternative options for lifestyles and community-building which aim to reduce consumption levels. My research investigates the potential of these grassroots innovations to grow and spread from their green niches and influence wider society, examining alternatives to mainstream systems of provision, seeking to evaluate and demonstrate their contribution to a challenging 'new economics' vision of sustainable consumption and wider 'low-carbon lifestyles'.
I am course director for ENV's BA Geography degree, and as well as focusing on sustainable consumption, I also teach aspects of environmental social science across the teaching programme, relating to lifestyles, sustainable development and social change.
I have recently led two research projects in this field, on complementary currencies (GICC) and community energy (CISE) (http://www.grassrootsinnovations.org). I am the author of 'The New Economics of Sustainable Consumption: Seeds of Change' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and a prize-winning paper on the Transition Towns movement in the UK, and am co-editor of the International Journal of Community Currency Research (http://www.ijccr.net).
I am a member of the UEA's Green Academy change team, a Higher Education Academy initiative to embed sustainability into all aspects of higher education.
- 2014 - present: Reader in Sustainable Consumption, School of Environmental Sciences
- 2012 - 2014: Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Consumption, School of Environmental Sciences, UEA.
- 2007 - 2012: RCUK Academic Fellow in the School of Environmental Sciences, UEA.
- 2001 - 2007: Senior Research Associate, School of Environmental Sciences, UEA
- 1999 - 2001: Senior Research Associate, School of Development Studies, UEA
- 1998: PhD in Sustainable Development, Leeds Metropolitan University
- 1994: MSc in Environmental Sciences, UEA
- 1991: BA in Development Studies, UEA
Key Research Interests
I am an expert in grassroots innovations, which are community-led initiatives which develop radical visions of sustainable development and consumption. They aim to establish new systems of provision (for food, housing, money, transport, energy etc) and incorporate both social and technological innovation for sustainability. These collective endeavours embody deep green social and ethical values and experiment with alternative options for lifestyles and community-building which aim to reduce consumption levels.
My research investigates the potential of these grassroots innovations to grow and spread from their green niches and influence wider society, examining alternatives to mainstream systems of provision, seeking to evaluate and demonstrate their contribution to a challenging 'new economics' vision of sustainable consumption and wider 'low-carbon lifestyles'.
Grassroots Innovations (research programme)
Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy (project)
Grassroots Innovations: Complementary Currencies (project)
Sustainability Transitions (ESRC seminar series)
Publications: EPrints Digital Repository
I am a member of the 3S (Science, Society and Sustainability) Research Group in ENV, and the Sustainable Consumption strand leader of the group. http://www.3s.uea.ac.uk
I am currently the Principal Investigator for the 3-year EPSRC-EdF funded ‘Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy’ project, and a 2-year Leverhulme-funded project on ‘Complementary Currencies for Sustainability’. For more information see: http://www.grassrootsinnovations.org
I direct the BA Geography degree in ENV, and in addition to teaching sustainable consumption, I also teach various aspects of environmental social sciences across the teaching programme, relating to lifestyles, sustainable development and social change.
In 2014 I won a UEA Excellence in Teaching Award, in my third consecutive year of nomination. I currently hold a UEA Teaching Fellowship, devoted to developing and raising the profile of innovative and inspiring teaching.
Innovative teaching methods are something I enjoy using, to aid student engagement and learning. In 2012 I led a team developing performance-based teaching methods, bringing subjects to life in front of students' eyes; this delivered significant improvements in student attainment, and was well-received. The idea has caught on and is now being used in other modules in the School.
I also use collaborative online learning tools to encourage student reflection and mutual support throughout their learning, and to reinforce lessons from formative assessment.
External Activities and Indicators of Esteem
- co-editor: International Journal of Community Currency Research (2010-present)
- co-editor special issue on Grassroots Innovation for Sustainability, Global Environmental Change, 2013 (in press)
- Editorial board for Local Environment (2008-present), and Sustainability: Science, Policy and Practice (2009-12).
- In 2014 I accepted an invitation to become a Fellow of the RSA ((Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce): an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges.
- Contributing teacher to the 2nd Annual New Economics Summer Institute, Wisconsin USA (August 13-18 2013), organised by Prof Juliet Schor of Boston College. (I am the only UK contributor)
- Advisor to Schumacher College and Plymouth University on their new MA in New Economics, and again I anticipate new collaborative relationships emerging from this partnership.
- Advisory panel for: Third Sector Research Centre, Southampton; Rettie and Burchell ‘Smart Communities’ research project at Kingston University; External advisor to Schumacher College and Plymouth University on their new MA in New Economics; INESPO Energy Currencies project, University of Brussels;
Prizes and recognition:
- Lead author on 'best paper in conference': Seyfang, G., Hielscher, S., Hargreaves, T., Martiskainen, M. and Smith, A. (2013) ‘Sustainable energy niche? Reflections on community energy case studies’ paper presented at 4th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions, Zurich June 19-21 2013
- Seyfang, G. and Haxeltine, A. (2012) ‘Growing Grassroots Innovations: Exploring the role of community-based initiatives in sustainable energy transitions’ Environment and Planning C 30(3) pp.381-400
- Awarded ‘editor’s choice’ - best paper in the issue (and runner-up best paper of the year)
- Won second prize in 2012 best paper competition by British Sociological Association’s Climate Change Study Group
- Invited contributor to masterclass on ‘writing prize-winning papers’ organised by British Sociological Association’s Climate Change Study Group, March 14th 2013, London
- Grassroots Innovations paper listed as a key document for science communication for development: http://www.scidev.net/en/science-communication/key-documents/all/
- Member of Academic Committee for SCORAI 2013 international conference (only UK member), conference June 12-14, Clark University, Worcester USA.
- Member of International Steering Committee for 2011 Conference on Complementary Currencies, University of Lyons, France
- Member of the Facilitation Committee of the Social Money workshop (of the Workgroup for a Solidarity Socio-Economy) to provide international leadership in complementary currency development, 2006-7
- Research engagement events have been featured on DEFRA’s Sustainable Development briefings website and newsletter;
- Future Radio, EDP Norfolk Magazine, Eastern Daily Press (inspiration to become an environmental scientist)
- CNBC, CNN, BBC, Radio 4, Guardian, Independent on Sunday, Radio 5 live, New Statesman (local currencies and time banks)
- Eastern Daily Press, East Anglian Daily Times, Eastern Evening News, Irish Times (community action for climate change book)
- Guardian (carbon literacy)
Policy and practitioner engagement:
- Community currency research informed a POST (Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) briefing note on alternative monies (No 475, August 2014)
- CISE public event ‘Community Energy: Taking stock, moving forwards?’ public debate held at UEA London, March 8th 2012, with panellists from DECC, Brighton Energy Co-op, Cooperatives UK, and the Community Development Foundation.
- Presentation on CISE given to policymakers and energy companies at the People, Energy and Buildings research programme dissemination event organised by EPSRC and EDF, May 11th, London.
- Response to Energy White Paper consultation submitted March 2011 (CISE contributed to Sussex Energy Group’s response)
- UEA Teaching Fellow
- Chair of ENV's Marketing and Communications Committee
- Editor and producer of ENV's Research Highlights report
- Member of the UEA's Green Academy change team, a Higher Education Academy initiative to embed sustainability into all aspects of higher education.
- Member of ENV studentship panel