Stephen Whitfield

Associate Professor in Climate Change and Food Security, University of Leeds

Stephen Whitfield

Stephen’s main research interests are the socio-politics of agri-food systems and the multiple priorities and challenges associated with these systems, both in the UK and overseas.

He is currently working on a project on documenting change in agricultural practice in the Yorkshire Dales, with particular emphasis on the role of agricultural subsidy reform in guiding these changes.

In recent research Stephen has taken a critical political look at conservation agriculture as a climate smart agricultural development pathway in Zambia and Malawi. His PhD research took a multi-sited and critical look at how knowledge and narratives of future change in Kenyan maize agriculture are constructed by a variety of actors; including crop breeders, climate scientists, biotechnology regulators, and smallholder farmers. In both cases, he was asking who is framing development agendas, through what narratives, on the basis of what evidence and assumptions, and with what implications?

Stephen has worked on projects in the UK as well as in Africa and Latin America and have a broad interest in agricultural development, climate change adaptation, natural resource managemet and ecosystem services.


2011-2014 PhD (Development Studies)

Institute of Development Studies/STEPS Centre, University of Sussex (supervised by Prof. Ian Scoones) :

‘Negotiating an Uncertain Future: A Multi-Sited Study of Narratives of Kenyan Agricultural Climate Change Adaptation’

Funded through the ESRC Open Competition – In affiliation with the CGIAR’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Group

2008-2009 MSc (Environment and International Development)

University of East Anglia

(+ Winner of UEA School of International Development Postgraduate Dissertation Prize)

2004-2007 BA Honours (Geography)

Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge

Part 2 Dissertation: (First Class) (+ Winner of the UK’s Rural Research Group’s Undergraduate Dissertation Prize and the University of Cambridge’s William Vaughan Lewis Prize)

Teaching Interests

Stephen teaches the Undergraduate modules ‘Environmental Science for Environmental Management (SOEE1460)’ and ‘People, Environment and Sustainability (SOEE2371)’