Research Themes - Environment, Sustainability and Participation

Research Themes

Environment, Sustainability and Participation

Paris building

Real Estate and Planning has a strong and long standing interest in sustainability, and community involvement and the environment in its widest sense. These are topics are that touch and concern a number of high profile issues in society and which require a strong practice-theory-practice loop. This interest is expressed through several strands and in the work of a number of Real Estate & Planning staff as well as in collaborations with numerous others across the Reading campus and beyond.

The theme is represented in research and publications around governance, regulation, community planning and public involvement and in the context of localism, decentralisation and devolution. Staff including Professor Gavin Parker and Professor David ClaphamDr Angelique ChettiparambDr Richard NunesDr Emma Street, Dr Claudia Murray and Joe Doak have been actively researching community planning and public involvement in planning in rural and urban contexts with a concern to shape sustainable development and sustainable communities. This has resulted in the study of various substantial issues in the above areas in a number of national and international contexts and explorations of the power relations between the private sector, community groups and other local stakeholders.

Gavin Parker's work has focused on local governance, citizenship and the role of communities and neighbourhoods in planning in England and internationally and has been widely used by policymakers in the past few years. Emma Street's research has considered the concept of sustainable community building, a central pillar of recent UK government thinking and the role of business. Richard Nunes' current work informs community efforts to replicate sustainability transition initiatives, and policy efforts to scale-up niche innovations into more systemic approaches to sustainable development. Joe Doak has undertaken research work for local authorities on sustainable economic development, partnership working and the implementation of strategic environmental policy.

Some of the work that has been developed by staff in Real Estate and Planning involves the study of planning and governance systems in the global north and the global south with work in India, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and in Japan. Angelique Chettiparamb has recently researched complexity, governance and local planning for infrastructure and amenities, school meal provision, solid waste management and the planning and implementation of tourism policies. The application of various complexity frameworks underpins research in this area and this interest is shared by a number of other staff concerned with linking theory and practice. Claudia Murray has been leading knowledge exchange seminars in Latin America, and representing the University of Reading as a whole in major regional international conferences. Her seminars involve other Latin American academics as well as a range of other sectors including government, industry and non-for-profits. She is also leading participatory design workshops involving Andean communities in Argentina. 

Most recently, under the leadership of Professor Kathy Pain, a major research programme attracting significant European and other funding has been developed focussing on the examination of major international sustainable cities and major functional urban regions. This work adopts a specifically global framework to assist governments, professional bodies and practitioners to develop strategies which take into account the connectivity of growing cities in world-wide flows of information, knowledge, skilled labour and office real estate finance in the advanced producer services economy. This research has informed theory, practice and policy in the European Union, North America, United Arab Emirates and Pacific Asia regions as well as in the UK. Kathy Pain is an Associate Director of GAWC (Globalisation and World Cities Research Network).

Several staff members have been active in outreach and have direct experience of working with different agencies and communities, as well as in advisory capacities to government and other institutions. Often REP staff will work with other researchers across the University of Reading, the Henley Business School or with collaborators from other Institutions based in the UK and worldwide. More information on REP staff and their individual interests, projects and publications is available on individual staff webpages.

PhD research in this thematic area has included: Community-led planning, Community management and ownership, Minority groups in planning, Education and planning, Planning and the transition movement, Decision making in planning and Sustainability Indicators. The staff who are active under this theme are also open to discussion from potential funders, collaborators and from prospective research students who wish to develop a project for higher degree (MPhil/PhD) study. For further details see: Postgraduate Research in Real Estate & Planning.

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