Alison Browne is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography (affiliated with the Sustainable Consumption Institute, Manchester Urban Institute). She is the SEED (School of Environment, Education and Development) Associate Director of Research: Business Engagement and Internationalisation. From 2015-2020 she chaired the Society and Environment Research Group in Geography, and has contributed to the Management Group of the Sustainable Consumption Institute, leading and coordinating Business Engagement, Knowledge Exchange/Impact and Internationalisation strategies and activities within the SCI. In 2018 Alison was nominated by her PhD students, and awarded, 'Faculty of Humanities Supervisor of the Year' within the Manchester Doctoral Colleage Excellence Awards.
She teaches within undergraduate and postgraduate programmes within Geography including convening the 2nd year Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Global South (@UoM_SCP) and 3rd year Decolonising Geography: Theory, Methods, Praxis modules (@GEOG31011), and contributing to a range of other undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research programmes.
Her work is structured around the following topics:
Dynamics of Everyday Life, Disruption and Change: Alison's research primarily focuses on the social, performative and material dynamics of everyday life related to water, energy, and food. In a mixed methodological and transdisciplinary way she play with ideas of how such practices come to be disrupted, changed and governed. This includes a focus on everyday life and infrastructure and materiality, but also a consideration of the ways in which the practices of professionals shape the emergence, and governance, of everyday practices. She engages with a range of theories from social practices, feminist and everyday geographies, embodiment, material culture, intervention and (urban) experimentation. Her work spans discussion of the transitions in everyday practices and sustainability related to water, energy and food in the UK, China, Australia, and Europe.
These ideas find expression in these current projects:
- The interdisciplinary, EPSRC funded Rethinking Resources and Recyling (RE3) project on the circular economy of plastics, with Ali Browne & Claire Hoolohan leading research on the everyday practices of invisible plastics consumption and diposal within homes related to hygiene, cleanliness, and sanitation.
The multistaged, ESRC funded project “Reshaping the Domestic Nexus” (ESRC Nexus Network and the University of Manchester/ESRC IAA). This project is in collaboration with Matt Watson, David Evans, Liz Sharp and Mike Foden from the University of Sheffield, and Claire Hoolohan at the University of Manchester. The latest stage of this project is the 'Change Points' toolkit funded by an ESRC IAA.
EPSRC funded 'Twenty65' cconsortium project advisory team with specific contributions to the 'Enhancing Water Services through Mobilisation' workpackage with Liz Sharp, Emma Westling and Martina McGuiness.
- Everyday Activisms in China: Navigating Water, Food and Air Quality funded by the Sustainable Consumption Institute and in collaboration with Dr Zhang Xiaoyang at Tsinghua University, Beijing.
A Chinese Academy of Social Sciences funded project “Meat Consumption and Everyday Life in Urban China” with Dr Zhu Di (CASS) and Dr Jo Mylan (SCI/MIOIR).
Recently completed projects where I also explored these ideas include:
“Patterns of Water” (with Medd, Anderson, Pullinger funded by EPSRC/ESRC),
“Dirt and Disruption at Summer Music Festivals” (with Hitchings, Jack funded by ESRC/UCL Bridging the Gap fund),
“Environmental Leapfrogging in the Global South: The evolution of water practices in developing and emerging markets” (with Evans, Gortemaker funded by Unilever),
- A UoM HSIF funded project with Dr Saska Petrova (Geography UoM) in collaboration with Dr Zhu Di (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences - CASS) entitled: “Domestic nexus: unpacking the interconnectivity of energy and water demand” focusing on water and energy transitions in post-socialist contexts including China.
“InterDEW – Interdisciplinary Approaches to Energy and Water Demand” (with Wood, Abi-Ghanem, Sharmina et al funded by UMRI)
“DROP Project: Benefit of Governance In Drought Adaptation” (funded by Interreg IVB, follow link for open access book on the project).
Impact and Knowledge Exchange: I work collaboratively on a range of research and consultancy projects that attempt to transform my academic research into governmental and business impact. This has involved funded work with a range of stakeholders including UKWIR (UK Water Industry Research), Artesia Consulting, CCWater, Thames Water, and Unilever etc. These industry engagements have led to further academic funding namely through two ESRC CASE PhD studentships: “Reframing water efficiency: towards interventions that reconfigure the shared and collective aspects of everyday water use” (Claire Hoolohan funded by Thames Water co-supervised with Alice Bows), and “Practices on the Move: Investigating trajectories of water and energy consumption in China” (Harriet Larrington-Spencer funded by Unilever co-supervised with Saska Petrova).
In 2020 to 2021 she leads, with Dr Sarah Marie Hall, the 'Methods for Change' project funded by ASPECT and Research England, showcasing innovative social science methodologies.
Critiquing Research Process and Methodology: I am committed to developing a critical reflexive academic practice within geography and interdisciplinary settings by reflecting upon research process and methodological innovation, and policy/public engagement. Recently I have explored the need to more seriously consider humour and laughter when developing research on everyday geographies (Browne, 2016), and the role of methods in intervening with policy and business stakeholders to reconfigure water and energy consumption (Browne et al., 2015). In previous research in Australia I have also explored policy and research processes which extend traditional notions of engagement in NRM/climate change (Browne & Bishop, 2011), mining and social licences (Browne et al., 2013), public participation and engagement with Indigenous Australian communities (Bishop et al., 2009).
Beth Brockett (2016). An interdisciplinary approach to mapping soil carbon. University of Lancaster. (Primary social science supervisor).
Claire Hoolohan (2017) Reframing water efficiency: Designing approaches that reconfigure the shared and collective aspects of everyday water use. University of Manchester, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change. (Primary social science supervisor, ESRC CASE studentship with Thames Water)
Joe Blakey (2019). Post-democratic carbon accounting: Creating the climate for disagreement. University of Manchester, Geography. (Main supervisor, SCI Studentship)
Harriet Larrington Spencer (ongoing). Practices on the move: Trajectories of water and energy consumption in China. University of Manchester. (Main supervisor, ESRC CASE studentship with Unilever)
Cecilia Alda Vidal (ongoing). Uneven trajectories of urban sanitation infrastructures development and everyday practices of sanitation and hygiene in Lilongwe, Malawi. (Main supervisor, SCI studentship)
Qi Liu (ongoing). Staying Green in Travel: The dynamics of lodging consumption in China. (Main supervisor).
Chujia Cai (ongoing, visiting PhD student from University of Shanghai funded by the China Scholarship Council)
Godfred Amankwaa (ongoing) From policies to practicalities? Digitisation of water services in Ghana (SEED Scholarship) (co-supervisor)
Purva Dewoolkar (ongoing). Making Sanitation: Mumbai’s Blurred Terrains (SEED Scholarship) (co-supervisor)
Juliet/Juliet Yan (ongoing). International students’ everyday encounter with urban green spaces: The transcultural journey (SEED Alumni Scholarship) (co-supervisor)
Chantal Bright (ongoing) Water Security and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding in Liberia (Main supervisor)