Peter Kraftl


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Professor Kraftl welcomes applicants from prospective students on any of the following topics.

Children’s geographies - especially (but not exclusively) with conceptual interests in nonrepresentational, posthuman and new materialist theories.
Geographies of education - especially alternative education
Geographies of architecture (including sustainable urban design)
Utopia, hope, everyday ‘alternatives’


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Personal profile

Research interests

I specialise in research on children’s geographies, and especially on the emotions, affects, materialities and practices that make up their everyday lives. I also publish on geographies of education and architecture. I have a longstanding interest in alternative education spaces, such as homeschooling, forest schools, care farms and other non-state and/or non-mainstream learning contexts.

Recent projects have focused on children's experiences of living in newly-built, masterplanned urban communities, young people's and the food-water-energy nexus in Brazil, and the many ways in which children's lives interact with plastics. My work on children and urban places informs local, national and international policy and practice, particularly in the context of the Garden Villages and Towns agenda in the UK.


Professor Peter Kraftl completed his PhD in Geography at the University of Wales Swansea in 2005. His PhD focused on utopian practices at two ecological buildings, and spawned his longstanding interest in children’s geographies, education and architecture. Peter worked at the Centre for Children and Youth at the University of Northampton between 2004-2007. He moved to the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester in 2007. There, he progressed through Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader before becoming a Chair in Human Geography in January 2014. He took up a Chair in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham in September 2015. He has also secured various visiting positions, including at the Universities of Warwick, Linkoeping, Otago and, most recent, an Honorary Professorship in Education at RMIT University.

Peter is the author of seven books and over 50 journal articles. His work is often placed centrally within a so-called ‘new wave’ of childhoods studies, as it focuses on questions of emotion, affect, materiality, memory and much more besides. At the intersection of these theoretical debates, he has developed a longstanding, substantive interest in children’s experiences of newly-built (and ‘sustainable’) urban spaces, in alternative education spaces and environmental education, and in the design and inhabitation of school buildings.

He is currently working on a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (called ‘Plastic Childhoods’), which examines these theoretical issues through the lens of contemporary concerns about plastics in the environment. Peter has also been collaborating with colleagues in Canada and Australia as part of an SSHRC-funded project on climate change pedagogies, and with colleagues in Brazil via Newton-funded projects about young people and the food-water-energy nexus (details below).

Peter has led or co-led a many funded projects on the above themes, including the following.

Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Principal Investigator, “Plastic Childhoods”. Awarded £51,389, duration June 2018-December 2019. Awarded £51,000, duration September 2018-March 2020.

EPSRC/FAPESP, Co-Investigator, “Reinhabiting the city: Bringing new life to city centres of emerging economies in a changing climate: The case of Sao Paulo”. Awarded £35,000, duration January-December 2018.

ESRC, Impact Acceleration Account, Principal Investigator, “Garden Villages of Tomorrow: translating research findings into practice”. Awarded £4985.55, duration June 2017-March 2018.

ESRC, Impact Acceleration Account, Co-Investigator, “Urban futures: translating research and building partnerships for youth housing”. Awarded £24,560.83, duration September 2017-March 2018.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, UK PI, “Climate Action Network: Exploring Climate Change Pedagogies with Children”. Awarded Canadian $200,000 [£120,000], duration April 2017-March 2020.

ESRC-Newton-FAPESP, Principal Investigator“(R)econnect the Nexus: Young Brazilians’ Experiences of and Learning about Food-Water-Energy”. Awarded £425,000, duration January 2016-September 2018. 

ESRC-CONFAP (Newton Fund, Collaboration/Networking Grant), Co-Investigator“Sharing Futures: Sustainable Urban Transformations in Water and Energy". Awarded £90,886, duration January 2015-December 2016. 

ESRC, Co-investigator, “New Urbanisms, New Citizens: children and young people’s everyday life and participation in sustainable communities” (with researchers at Warwick University and The University of Northampton). Awarded £670,000, project duration June 2009-June 2012. Website:

AHRC/EPSRC, Co-investigator, “Realising participatory design with children and young people: A case study of design and refurbishment in schools” (with researchers at The University of Northampton, Coventry University and Keele University). Part of ‘Designing for the Twenty-First Century’ Programme. Awarded £330,000, project duration January 2007- April 2009.

Peter is currently an Editor of Area journal and was an Editor of Children’s Geographies journal. He was a founding member of the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), and was the Research Group’s Chair from 2012-15. He has given invited talks around the world, including in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland and Finland. He is fortunate enough to be a member of the incredible Common Worlds collective, whose global membership examines children’s lives as they are embedded with/in more-than-human relations.

Peter has worked with a range of international, national and local organisations, largely based on his work with children and young people in new or emerging urban places. He is currently advising national and local agencies involved in the delivery of large, master-planned housing developments in the UK about how best to include children and young people in their design processes.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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