I hold a Master degree in Geography from Charles University, Prague and a PhD in Social and Political Science from the University of Cambridge. I worked at the Open University in the mid-1990s facilitating the transfer of environmental undergraduate modules to Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Subsequent to holding a range of academic posts in geography, sociology and international relations in Prague and a Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute, Florence, I returned to the Open University’s Department of Geography in 2002. I am currently the Module Team Chair of the third level module DU311 Earth in crisis: environmental policy in an international context and the Department of Geography’s Post-graduate Convener.
My research, with a long-term focus on East European environmentalism, was initially concerned with the unintended consequences of the import of the western ideal of civil society in post-socialist societies and the continuity and divergence this represented from state-socialist and pre-socialist alternative culture and politics. This work was published in Environment and History, Environmental Politics, Czech Sociological Review, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers and several book chapters. Later the scope of my research broadened to study the process of ‘Europeanization' of environmental governance in new EU member states. This has led to the current interest in sustainable food production and consumption, and diverse and sharing economies, the outcome of which has been published in a range of book chapters and articles in Social Indicators Research, Geoforum and Journal of Rural Studies co-authored with Open University colleague Joe Smith and with Tomáš Kostelecký from the Institute of Sociology in Prague.
Conducted under the Quiet Sustainability project, this work explores everyday, food-related sustainable practices in Eastern Europe, and highlights the contribution of this research to current debates on the food system transformation. It proposes a new conceptualisation of these food practices as exuberant, appealing and socially diverse, but also unforced, forms of sustainability which nurtures cooperation and sense of accomplishment. This work also highlights the unequal knowledge production and contentions arising from the endeavour to use insights from the East European ‘periphery’ to unsettle the hegemony of concepts generated in Western contexts. The most recent project in this area, on which I am working with Naďa Johanisová, Eva Fraňková and Petr Daněk from Masaryk University, Brno, is Forms and norms of alternative economic practices in the Czech Republic funded by the Czech Science Foundation.
Since rejoining the Open University in 2002, I have played a key role in the presentation and production of interdisciplinary environmental modules, both at the masters and undergraduate level. I chaired the production of DU311 Earth in crisis: environmental policy in an international context (2007 - 2009) and the module’s mid-life review (2013 - 2014). I was a leader of Block 5 ‘Food’ produced for the second level module DST206 Environment: Sharing a dynamic planet and co-edited the module’s Book 1 Introduction, Life, Water (2010 - 2012).
I have supervised four PhDs to completion (Open University; Birkbeck, London; Charles University, Prague). I currently have two PhD students, Ana Harrison and Liz Wright, working with me at the Open University. I also supervise Lucie Sovová’s joint PhD study at Masaryk University, Brno and Wageningen University.
I have served as external examiner on the two-year Erasmus Mundus European Masters Programme on European Spatial Planning, Environmental Policies and Regional Development ‘PLANET Europe’ (delivered by Cardiff University, Radboud University Nijmegen, and Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona) based in Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning. I have acted as PhD examiner at Manchester University, Wageningen University, Netherlands; Central European University, Budapest; Charles University, Prague and Masaryk University, Brno.
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