Steven Emery

Steven Emery

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

Steven is an interdisciplinary environmental researcher with a broad interest in human-environment relations. His work is informed by rural geography, social anthropology and rural sociology and focuses on the relationship between sociocultural values and environmental practices, interventions, policies and governance. He has applied this approach most especially to the study of agriculture, having conducted extended ethnographic fieldwork with British hill farmers.

More specifically his research focuses on:

  • Farming culture
  • The uptake and receptivity of farmers to agri-environmental schemes (AES)
  • The applications of rhetoric culture theory
  • Theorising and better understanding processes of cultural change in the face of environmental, economic and political uncertainty
  • Understanding and demonstrating the complex relationship between cultural values, environmental practices and social resilience
  • Exploring the relationship between cultural values, personhood, places and practices
  • Processes of environmental decision-making, governance and conflict management
  • Ideology, power and agency in environmental contexts


Following the completion of his BSc and Masters in environmental management at Lancaster University Steven worked for three years as an environmental consultant at Scott Wilson. He specialized in sustainable waste management, environmental auditing, Environmental Impact Assessment, sustainable construction and sustainability appraisal, working for a range of clients including Standard Chartered Bank, Defence Estates and the government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Steven then followed his longstanding interest in farming when he returned to academia to take up a PhD in social anthropology and geography at Durham University. He spent a year living and working on hill farms in the North York Moors to gain an understanding of the cultural influences on farmers’ receptivity to emerging environmental policies such as the Single Payment Scheme and Environmental Stewardship.

In 2010 he joined the Centre for Rural Economy in the School of Agriculture at Newcastle University where he worked as a Research Associate conducting some of the first sociocultural research on collaborative agri-environment schemes (Rural Economy and Land Use Programme funded). During this time he also worked on a range of rural projects funded by Defra, the European Union and the ESRC.

Steven joined GEES as Lecturer in Environment and Society in 2013. He became Senior Admissions Tutor in 2017 and Senior Tutor in 2019.


BSc (Hons) Environmental Management (Lancaster 2002)

MSc European Environmental Management (Lancaster 2003)

PhD Anthropology and Geography (Durham 2010)

Post-graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (Birmingham 2016)

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

Dr Emery would be interested to hear from potential supervisees with an interest in rural geography, environmental management and ethnographic approaches (and in particular those interested in farming and the rural environment).