Until 2012, I was Senior Lecturer in Conservation at Birkbeck College and Director of the University of London Centre for European Protected Area Research (CEPAR).
I came into academic work through adult education, working first as a part-time tutor with the Workers' Educational Association teaching 'outreach' on topics ranging from natural history (I still have a passing interest in fungi and lower plants) to the social implications of microelectronics and other new technologies (including teaching TUC and other trades union courses) and then as Staff Lecturer for the University of London Department of Extra-mural Studies where I was responsible for the university's course programme, liaising with WEA branches and LEAs in a wide sector of west London from Hillingdon down to Surrey. Sadly little of this now exists, a victim first of Labour and then of Tory cuts.
Further back I have worked as a secondary teacher (science, maths, civics) in Luton and in Paddington, and as a builders' labourer, tyre fitter, light removals, shop assistant, ice-cream salesperson, delivery driver, farm hand and Hollerith operator.
Amongst my extra-curricular activities at Birkbeck I was Staff Representative Governor and joint President of Birkbeck UCU.
I undertake research, evaluation and training related to heritage management with a particular emphasis on community engagement and working at a 'landscape' scale. Recent consultancy work includes: national evaluation of the Heritage Lottery Fund's Landscape Partnership programme and preparation of application and evaluation guidance under HLF's fourth (2013-18) Strategic Framework; evaluation of Defra's Sustainable Development Fund; statutory guidance for AONB management plans under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act; 'best practice' guidance for National Parks and AONBs for Natural England, and training and facilitation in management and management planning, interpretation and monitoring for the National Trust and other 'third sector' organisations.
In parallel with my landscape interests and as a Londoner I've developed interests in several areas and have published on:
- the history of Russell Square (as a multidisciplinary educational resource)
- the Selborne Society (Britain's oldest conservation organisation) and its reserve, Perivale Wood in west London
- 19th century suburbanisation in relation to the Birkbeck Land and Building Society (below).
I'm currently working on the relation between 19th century contested (individual and collective) models of useful knowledge and 'self-help' and their manifestation in working-class housing (in the activities of the Birkbeck Bank and Building Society, once the largest in the world) and education (the Birkbeck Schools, which pioneered what were then progressive teaching techniques as a as a means of social control).
I'm looking forward very much to working with colleagues at WBS.
At Birkbeck I was responsible for the University's postgraduate programmes in Countryside and Protected Area Management and Ecology and Conservation.
My main teaching focused on the following areas:
- Protected area and conservation law & policy
- Site and landscape management planning
- Environmental ethics.
I run occasional sessions (day to week modules) in these areas, focusing on the relationship between theoretical understanding and practical applications.
Institutional and professional affiliations:
- Fellow, Linnean Society (FLS)
- Fellow, Royal Geographical Society (FRGS)