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Envisioning child-centric development pathways in a changing climate

Principal supervisor: Dr Thomas Tanner (SOAS)

Research webpage:

Co-Supervisor: Dr Aideen Foley (BBK)

Research webpage:

Award includes tuition fees and a stipend of £17,009 including London Weighting (at 2019/20 rates, so slightly higher for 2020 entry)

100% FTE for 3 years, from September 2020.

Project Description:

Climate change is fundamentally altering the development pathways and choices of young people across the globe. Today’s children will bear a disproportionate share of the impact of climate change, both in the immediate and longer-term. They will also inherit the choices made now in terms of mitigating and adapting to climate change, forming the backdrop to their lives and development trajectories.


This PhD project builds on the wave of youth action around the world to investigate the perceptions, vision and agency of young people regarding their development futures. It examines how these frame, and are framed by the changing climate. Drawing on theoretical bases around knowledge co-production, frames, and pathways to sustainability, the project investigates:

  • How visioning exercises can integrate data from climate science to inform decisions around development pathways
  • How and why the perceptions on climate and development futures of children and young people differ from those of adults
  • How understanding such perceptions and pathways can better inform climate change and development policy

Fieldwork and policy engagement will be undertaken in two countries in the Global South in partnership with NGOs of the Children in a Changing Climate coalition. It will build on research methods for climate and disaster risk with youth groups in developing countries (Tanner et al., 2009) through group visioning exercises that engage policy makers and youth leaders with climate science information. This will co-produce knowledge with policy makers that captures young people’s specific vulnerabilities and capacities under different development and climate pathways (Foley, 2018). The project will also employ a survey-based Q Method as a systemic means of studying how subjective perspectives link with internal frames of reference as well as objective and external variables such as age, gender or income. Research outcomes will inform policy messages and advocacy programmes on youth, gender, climate change and development.

Subject Areas/Keywords:

Children and youth; Climate change; development; co-production

Key References:

Foley, A.M. (2018) Climate impact assessment and “islandness” Challenges and opportunities of knowledge production and decision-making for Small Island Developing States. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 10(2), pp.289-302.

Jasanoff, S. (Ed.). (2004). States of knowledge: the co-production of science and the social order. Abingdon: Routledge.

Tanner, T.M., Garcia, M., Lazcano, J., Molina, F., Molina, G., Rodríguez, G., Tribunalo, B. and Seballos, F. (2009) Children’s participation in community-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change, Participatory Learning and Action, 60: 54-64.

Candidate requirements (if appropriate):

The successful candidate will have a postgraduate degree in geography, international development or a related subject. Experience and interest in climate change, the Global South and child-centred development will be beneficial. Facilitation and mixed methods skills would be useful.

The studentship is only open to applicants who would be assessed to have UK/EU fee status.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on 8th April 2020

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal Supervisor: Dr Thomas Tanner

Co-Supervisor: Dr Aideen Foley (

Further information about PhDs at

Further information about PhDs at CeDEP, SOAS University of London is available from:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

Candidates wishing to apply for this fully funded three-year, full-time PhD studentship starting September 2020 must complete both an admissions application and a studentship application. These are separate processes.

STEP 1: Admissions Application: 15:00 UK time, Thursday, 5th March 2020

Apply for the Research Degrees programme: MPhil/PhD in Development, Environment & Policy in the Centre for Development and Environment Policy (CeDEP) using SOAS’s online admissions form. See HERE for information and ‘Apply Online’ link

Applicants must submit a complete online application for admission as soon as possible and no later than 15:00 UK time, Thursday, 5th March 2020).

Further guidance for applying for admission to the MPhil/PhD programme and documents you need to submit is available at this link HERE

IMPORTANT: Please state in the admissions application that you wish to be considered for the Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentship, use the title of the studentship (Envisioning child-centric development pathways in a changing climate) as your Research Proposal Title and state Thomas Tanner as your Proposed Supervisor.

Use your Supporting Statement to explain why you are motivated to apply for this particular project, and what skills and experience you will bring to the project. In your 2,000 word Research Proposal please respond to the project description and elaborate on how you would approach the project theoretically and methodologically based on your previous academic training and experience.

STEP 2: Studentship Application

Apply for the Bloomsbury Colleges Studentship by completing and submitting the studentship application form HERE

as soon as possible but no later than 15:00 UK time, Thursday, 12th March 2020.

Closing date for applications is: 15:00 UK time, Thursday, 12 March 2020).