Dr Robert Fish
Reader in Human Ecology
Sustainable landscapes, culture and ecology, environmental citizenship
- - R.Fish@kent.ac.uk
- - 01227 (8)16315
School Roles and Responsibilities
Programme Convenor BA Environmental Social Sciences; Programme Convenor BSc Human Ecology
I am an environmental social scientist interested in the social and cultural dimensions of natural resource management. Understanding how the natural world is imagined, valued and planned as an asset for human well-being is the preoccupying concern of my research.
Much of my work is centred on rural and agricultural landscapes and is distinguished by its interdisciplinary, participatory and problem-centred focus, as well as by direct intervention in the policy process. In recent years I have been particularly associated with the development of ecosystem based approaches to natural resource management, which I seek to influence and shape from a social science and critical starting point.
By training I am a human geographer. I was awarded a first class BSc Hons degree in Geography from Coventry University in 1995 and a PhD from the University of Leicester in 2000. I have held junior research fellowships in the Universities of Nottingham and Lancaster and been a lecturer in Human Geography at the Universities of Nottingham and Exeter. I joined the School in 2015 from the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter, where I was a Senior Research Fellow in Environmental Policy and Management.back to top
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I have led and worked on a range of research council, government and local authority funded projects exploring dimensions of sustainable land management, including projects on issues of food security, water quality, cultural values for rural landscape and young peoples’ involvement in voluntary conservation. Funders include ESRC, NERC, AHRC, DEFRA, BIS and the Environment Agency. I have also co-led two ESRC Seminar Series programmes considering different facets of sustainable agriculture and ecosystem management.
In recent years I have played an active role in the work of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, co-leading its work on cultural ecosystem services as part of the larger Assessment process. More generally I have developed guidelines and activities for embedding an ecosystems approach in policy and practice, including co-leading the formation of the Ecosystems Knowledge Network, of which I am now a trustee. Between 2014-2015 I led and delivered the largest ever public dialogue initiative on the natural environment in the UK, funded by Sciencewise.
My research has led me to participate in a range of international initiatives sharing understanding in this area including the UK-China Sustainable Agricultural Innovation Network and a UK-Brazil Newton Fund link project on the political ecologies of land-water management.
Two major current projects are:
Valuing Nature Programme, NERC, 2004-19
Working with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the University of Oxford, I am co-leading the co-ordination of the Valuing Nature programme; a five year interdisciplinary NERC-led research programme in collaboration with ESRC, BBSRC, AHRC and Defra. The programme aims to better understand and represent the complexities of valuing the natural environment and to consider the wider societal and cultural value of ecosystems services.
Sustainable Intensification Research Platform, Defra, 2014-7
I am a member of a multi-institutional project team developing understandings and approaches to the idea of ‘Sustainable Intensification’ in Agriculture. We are researching actions and approaches that may help navigate the contested space of agricultural landscapes delivering profitable farming and food production alongside a wide range of environmental benefits such as biodiversity, alleviating flood risk and carbon storage.back to top
I am interested in supervising students for projects that encompass the theories, methods and concerns of environmental social science and the related fields of environmental and cultural geography, human and political ecology and environmental sociology.
- Tom Bell (2017-2020) The moral foundations of climate activism in Trump-era USA (co-supervised with David Henig and Jonathan Mair)
- Joana Viana Canelas (2015-18) Indigenous contribution to ecological modelling for the assessment of ecosystem services. (Co-supervised with Joseph Tzanopoulos)
Recent PhD Supervisions - (Exeter University)
- Tim Wilkinson (2010-2015) ESRC Case studentship - Tourist engagements with national park landscapes 2nd Supervisor (with David Harvey Geography and Michael Winter, Politics, Exeter) - ESRC Case Studentship-with Exmoor National Park – (Submitted: Pending examination)
- Cheryl Willis (2009-14) Sustainable management of cultural ecosystem services 2nd Supervisor (With Stewart Barr, Geography and Michael Winter, Politics, Exeter) - ESRC Case Studentship- with Dorset County Council- (Passed)
- Colin Nolden (2009-13) Community energy and feed-in tariffs 2nd Supervisor (With Stewart Barr, Geography and Michael Winter, Politics, Exeter) - University Studentship - (Passed)
- Andrew Clappison (2005-6) - Endogenous Rural Development within the South West of England: A Governance narrative of LEADER. 2nd Supervisor [with Michael Winter – Politics, Exeter) - University Studentship – (Passed)
- Jacob Bull (2004-6) Valuable Ecologies: A Geography of Angling’ - European Social Fund/RELU 2nd Supervisor (with Michael Winter – Politics, Exeter) – (Passed)
External Examiner – MSc Environmental Programmes, Cranfield University (2014 – Present)
Member of ESRC Peer Review College (2008 - present)
Trustee – Ecosystems Knowledge Network (2015- present)
Visiting Research Fellow - Centre for Rural Policy Research, Politics, University of Exeter (2015- present)back to top
I am available to provide academic comment and viewpoints on topics related to environmental policy and change with respect to rural and agricultural landscapes, cultural interpretations of the natural world and natural resources, public attitudes to environmental issues, environmental citizenship and behavioural change.back to top