James Porter

Associate, University of Leeds

James Porter


James is a human geographer who specialises in science and technology studies, risk/uncertainty management and the institutional politics of producing, and in turn, using technical knowledge. He is a Research Fellow on a ERC-funded project called ICAD (Advancing knowledge systems in climate adaptation decisions), working alongside Professor Suraje Dessai, at the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds.

Research Interests

James has a wide range of interests but they mostly centre around the way different kinds of science come to be shaped, and in turn, shape different kinds of policy, for example, in the context of co-producing flood risk science and spatial planning.

His PhD traced the origins, production and use of the Environment Agency’s flood risk maps and how decisions over what to include (or exclude) from the modelling reveal various practical considerations, at once technical and institutional-political, which effected the flood outlines produced. That is, accurate science is not always the most political defensible science.

His interests, therefore, touch on the social studies of science or scientists, particularly in relation to the institutional production and use of flood risk and climate knowledges; the politics involved in making evidence-based decision-making tools “work”; and the interdisciplinary dynamics at play in shaping preferred forms of research collaboration, especially in the life sciences.

As part of the ICAD project, he will be tracing the way climate knowledge develops, and by extension changes, as it travels across different production sites to where it is eventually applied. How, and why, for example, does climate knowledge come to take a particular form in decision-making? Focusing on the key role played by experts and increasingly consultancies in the construction, verification, and interpretation of climate information, this research seeks to understand what effect, if any, do these actors have on the kind of climate knowledge that gets produced.

Research articles

Working papers

Policy publications