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Kirstie O'Neill

Dr Kirstie O'Neill


Senior Lecturer in Environmental Geography

School of Geography and Planning

+44 29208 76271
Glamorgan Building, Room 1.78, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a critical human geographer with research interests in environmental governance and sustainability transitions, especially as they relate to the green economy, sustainable building and alternative food systems, as well as urban sustainability strategies. I have explored these areas through my PhD (Hull, 2012) and a number of post-doctoral research projects with colleagues at Lancaster University and the University of Hull.

I am particularly concerned with the rapidly changing climate and accelerating environmental problems and to understand how humans are living with environmental change, and reacting to these issues.  Future research plans relate to how environmental politics are being (re)negotiated at different geographical scales, in a changing political climate in the context of climatic change. 

Current research relates to the climate emergency declarations and how universities' existing sustainability strategies equip them to deal with the future challenges of putting the climate emergency declarations into practice.  A second project relates to the multiple dimensions of veganism, given the growing interest in this as an area of consumption that could contribute to lower impact futures.














Book sections


My doctoral thesis explored how policy makers could help establish and support sustainable local food economies. Local food is often seen as a means of boosting local economies and giving people access to autochthonous and quality foods that are not available via supermarket supply chains. Local food businesses in East Yorkshire and the Abruzzo region in Italy were involved in the research; these two case study areas were connected through their participation in the European Union’s LEADER rural development programme, and their connections to the University of Hull. Of particular importance, this research challenged the idea that alternative food networks could only be found in non-industrial agricultural areas. The research was collaborative between the Department of Geography and the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and involved the transfer of research knowledge from my PhD to practitioners at the local authority. The Economic and Social Research Council, and the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ESRC-CASE) funded my PhD.

Following my doctoral research, I have widened my research interests through research exploring the role of green entrepreneurs in enacting the green economy. Part of this involved exploring the green building sector, through in depth interviews with architects, builders, materials suppliers, to build a more heterogeneous picture of green building as a concept and niche. This research on green building looked at approaches in the UK and Germany, and subsequently in Vancouver, Canada as part of an international project (Green Regio) led by colleagues at the Universities of Hull, Luxembourg and Cologne. I was also involved in an EPSRC funded ‘Research in the Wild’ project (led by Professor Adrian Friday, Lancaster University) exploring consumers’ perceptions of sustainable food and the relationship to digital technologies. I have published from these projects and have further publications in progress.

I am currently researching universities' climate emergency declarations and plan to extend this secondary research by undertaking interviews with those working on the climate emergency within universities and local government.


I am Course Director for the undergradute BSc Human Geography and Planning and welcome enquiries about this by email.

I convene the Environment Research Group within the School and regularly organise external speakers on topics broadly relating to environmental geography and planning.

I convene CP0375 Climate Change and Environmental Governance, and CPT855 Environmental Policy and Climate Change, and teach on CPO263 Sustainable Development. 

I supervise undergraduate and MSc dissertations, and am available for PhD supervision.


Following my undergraduate degree (Newcastle, 1999), I worked as a rural community development officer and rural economic development officer for local authorities and rural community councils in the North of England.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (HEA Full Fellow status), LSE (2017)
  • PhD in Human Geography, University of Hull (2012)
  • PGCert, Open University (2003)
  • BA (Hons) Geography, Newcastle University (1999)


  • Fellow in Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science (2016-2018)
  • Research Associate, Lancaster University (2016)
  • Senior Research Associate, University of Hull (2015-2016)
  • Research Associate, Lancaster University (2014-2015)
  • Research Associate, University of Hull (2011-2014)
  • 2000-2007: rural development and economic development roles for local authorities (North Yorkshire County Council and Durham County Council) and third sector (rural community councils in Cumbria and North Yorkshire)

Professional memberships

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


I would be interested in supervising PhD projects in areas such as:

  • Sustainable food systems
  • Green building (including low carbon building)
  • Environmental governance
  • Clean energy
  • Green economies and degrowth

Current supervision

Bingfu Ding

Bingfu Ding

Research student