Accelerating a green transition: Driving positive tipping points in the sustainability of African landscape systems, Global Systems Institute/Geography

Updated: 2 months ago
Location: Exeter, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 13 Sep 2022


Global Systems Institute, Department of Geography, Streatham Campus, Exeter, UK

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental SciencesGlobal Systems Institute is inviting applications for a fully-funded ‘Oppenheimer-Lovelock Doctoral studentship’ as part of the University’s new Oppenheimer Programme in African Landscape Systems (OPALS;, jointly funded by the University of Exeter and Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation (OGRC) with contributions from the Lovelock Studentship Fund. This post will commence in January 2023.

For eligible students, the studentship will cover international tuition fees plus a tax-free stipend of at least £16,062 per annum for 3.5 years full-time study and a comprehensive research training support grant. The student would be based in Geography in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:

The sustainability of human-environment interactions is increasingly under pressure due to climate change linked with other drivers. Many of these issues are particularly acute in Africa, where socio-economic contexts often exacerbate vulnerabilities to climate hazards. There is an urgent need to use systems thinking approaches to help guide development onto nature-supporting rather than nature-degrading pathways, that are socially just and promote greater equity.

This impact-focused research project will study the conditions that can enable positive tipping points in human-ecosystem interactions, to guide interventions that can most effectively trigger beneficial transitions in those systems. A key goal will be to identify positive feedback loops which can amplify social, technological, and ecological change in a desirable direction. These will be identified from models and from case studies - including learning from experiences elsewhere in the world.

There is considerable flexibility in the focus of this project. We aim to work in partnership with the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU). The project might assess the mitigation and adaptation potential of nature-based solutions to climate change, and how this potential can be realised through public and private financing strategies. It might look at integrating nature-supporting activities into building sustainable and resilient food systems and rural livelihoods. This project could also contribute to the development of a global tool to guide investment in nature-based solutions projects and/or inform the development of an African Environmental Index supported by OGRC.

The successful applicant should want to promote ‘futures literacy’ in society, embedding post-colonial approaches that contribute to environmental sustainability and equality. They will be a member of a large team of scholars through the Oppenheimer Research Programme in African Landscape Systems, a six-year programme of foundational and applied research activity led by the University of Exeter working with OGRC and other partners across the Continent including the Future Ecosystems for Africa programme.

The University of Exeter is one of the top-ranked research institutions in the world and a recognised leader in understanding the impacts of environmental change on global social and ecological systems. This scholarship includes the cost of a student visa and healthcare surcharge to study in the UK but please be aware that it does not include the travel costs to move to the UK.

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