Senior Research Fellow
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Ben Fagan-Watson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Policy Studies Institute (PSI). He has a range of research interests, including:
Evaluation: Ben is one of the core team running the new ESRC-funded £3m Centre for Evaluating Complexity Across the Nexus, which is exploring new methods to evaluate the effectiveness of UK environmental policy. From 2017-2021 he is leading the process evaluation of the Heat Networks Investment Project for the Department of Business, Energy, Innovation and Skills. He recently co-ordinated a Rapid Evidence Assessment for Defra which is assessing the impact and implementation of complex environmental policies on complex systems.
Action research and co-production: Ben is Co-Investigator of the IsuLabantu project, which seeks to support communities in Durban, South Africa, and strengthen their capacity to guide urban development themselves. In particular, the project focuses on community-led processes and in-situ upgrading of informal settlements. From 2015-16 he was Co-Investigator on the Urban Heat project, which explored how communities can be involved in preparing for and responding to heatwaves and hot weather in the UK. From 2009-2013 Ben conducted two action-based research projects for Defra assessing how to encourage pro-environmental behaviours around food waste (Maiden Lane Food Loop), and assessing whether ‘trusted intermediaries’ (such as plumbers, or plumbers’ merchants) can be used to spread pro-environmental, water-saving behaviours and products to the general public (Plug-It).
Corporate power: From 2013-14, Ben was on secondment to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) where he was the Head of Government Relations. CDP is an international not-for-profit organisation that gathers key environmental information from over 5,000 of the world’s largest businesses on behalf of 722 investors worth $87 trillion. He led CDP’s research into corporate lobbying on climate policy, and contributed to the Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy which was written with eight leading institutions, including three UN agencies. He has since led two projects exploring how businesses and trade associations influence EU climate policy.
Children’s independence and travel: Ben has worked on two major projects on Children’s Independent Mobility - children’s freedom to travel to local places without adult supervision. He conducted a comparative study of England and Germany in this field and coordinated a major international study building on this work, which has involved working with partner researchers from 15 other countries.
Research networks and projects: Ben organised, publicised and managed two major research projects as part of the secretariat of the Sustainable Development Research Network and the Green Fiscal Commission.
Ben joined PSI in 2009. In June 2008, he was given the ‘London Social Justice Campaigner 2008’ award by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, a UK charitable foundation that aims to promote effective campaigning. Ben holds a first-class BA in Historical Studies from the University of Bristol.
Ben was module leader of 'Environmental Change and Transition to a Low Carbon Society', which is part of the MA Energy and Environmental Change.
He taught qualitative research methods on the Masters in Applied Market and Social Research. He has also taught on the ‘International Environmental Policy and Political Analysis’ module on the MRes International Environmental Policy and Politics Scholarship, based within the Department of Politics & International Relations:
Please see Ben's page on the PSI site for current and past research projects.