If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research interests

Neil Ravenscroft is Director of the Brighton Doctoral College and Professor of Land Economy, specialising in people-environment relationships associated with farming, forestry and water resources. Neil’s role is to lead the operation and strategic development of the Doctoral College, covering all aspects of student recruitment and progression including research and career development, fostering a strong research environment and preparing students for the defence of their thesis. The Doctoral College comprises over 500 research students in all major disciplinary areas, with many belonging to one of the College’s five Research Council-funded Centres of Doctoral Training and Doctoral Training Partnerships. Neil also oversees the College’s international collaborations, in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Neil’s research has been funded by a wide range of organisations in the UK and Continental Europe. He currently holds grants from the AHRC, relating to waterside communities and to Europe’s secondary waterways, and from NERC on wetland management. He has also recently completed a visiting research fellowship at Fudan University, China, on farming in China’s urban periphery and is currently Visiting Professor at Guizhou University of Finance and Economics, China, and an advisor to the China Community Supported Agriculture Alliance.

The foundation of my research interests lies in economic questions about the multiple relationships that people have with each other and with the natural and physical environment. At the core of this are questions about the extent to which economic concepts such as wealth, individual utility and exchange can adequately capture the complexities of such relationships.

In recent work funded by NERC, for example, I have examined the case for moving away from the conventional economic focus on the individual as the unit of assessment to a more systemic conceptualisation of humans as social beings where values and utility are formed through shared and deliberative processes. Not only does this challenge the efficacy of market-based resource allocation, but it also suggests that conventional understandings of economic efficiency may actually be counter-productive to achieving sustained – and sustainable – societies.

At the core of this research problem is the question of how rights to exploit resources are allocated. Most research on the allocation of land and natural resources has concentrated on the governance of rights, in the belief that there is a causal relationship between robust governance systems and the protection of rights.

However, my research has suggested that the opposite is the case and that the exploitation of rights, and thus of people and the environment, is facilitated by the unequal power relations implicit in the operation of such governance systems. Examples of this exist all over the globe, whether in terms of the marketisation of European and African commons, or the liberalisation of collective property regimes elsewhere.

Approach to teaching

My teaching mainly consists of workshops offered as part of the Doctoral College’s Researcher Development Programme. My purpose in these workshops is to challenge participants to think about their practice as researchers and how they relate their practice to their fields of study. This is at the core of doctoral training and is foundational for all early career researchers. My firm belief is that the freedom we need as researchers is based on a deep and thorough understanding of our disciplinary fields, particularly in terms of the dominant modes of thought within them and, therefore, how we understand what constitutes evidence.

Scholarly biography

I grew up wanting to farm but knowing that this was unlikely without considerable family wealth. So I took a BSc (Estate Management) at the University of Reading with the aim of qualifying as a chartered surveyor in rural practice (which I did in 1989). Following Reading I was fortunate to win a scholarship to study resource management at the University of Toronto, Canada. It was here that I came under the influence of economist J.C. Nautiyal, who fired my interest in resource economics and my conviction that conventional approaches to resource allocation were inequitable and unsafe. On returning to the UK I studied for my doctorate (attempting to harness emerging research on welfare economics to the allocation of natural resources) at the University of Reading, under the supervision of Bill Seabrooke.

I was awarded my doctorate in 1988 and remained at Reading, teaching and researching in land management, until 1997. I then moved to a Readership at the University of Surrey before, in 2000, joining Alan Tomlinson, John Sugden and others at what was then the University of Brighton’s Chelsea School in Eastbourne. This was initially for a fixed term of three years, to concentrate on developing research on communities and culture, but the lure of Brighton meant that I have remained ever since, taking up my Professorship in Land Economy in the School of Environment & Technology in 2007. I joined the newly formed Brighton Doctoral College in 2011, initially as Director of Postgraduate Studies, Science & Engineering and later as Director of International Partnerships and Recruitment before, in April 2016, becoming Director of the Doctoral College.

Throughout my academic life I have been active in funded research, initially winning grants from government departments and agencies (UK and EU), as well as undertaking consultancies for a number of bodies including the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation. Since 2009 I have concentrated on research council grants, securing funding from the AHRC, NERC/UN Environment Programme, ESRC, MRC and the EU Joint Programme Initiative in Cultural Heritage.

At the same time as I moved to the University of Brighton I rekindled my original interest in farming, by joining a new Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) co-operative in Forest Row, becoming a member of Tablehurst Community Farm Management Group in 2000, a Director of the business in 2004 and Chair and Executive Director in 2011. From rather humble beginnings, Tablehurst now farms over 700 acres, runs a small care home, shop and café, employs more than 20 permanent staff and provides food for thousands of local people. This experience has allowed me to Chair the Soil Association’s Advisory Panel on CSA, become a trustee of the Real Farming Trust and an Advisor to the China CSA Alliance and the Ecological Land Co-operative.

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

  • 3 Similar Profiles
right of ownership Social Sciences
governance Social Sciences
recreation Social Sciences
food Social Sciences
narrative Social Sciences
collective action Earth & Environmental Sciences
valuation Earth & Environmental Sciences
community Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2001 2019

A new normative economics for the formation of shared social values

Ravenscroft, N., 1 Jan 2019, p. 1-11 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Social Values
Social Justice

From the hydrosocial to the hydrocitizen: water, place and subjectivity within emergent urban wetlands

Gearey, M., Ravenscroft, N. & Church, A., 7 Feb 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Public Space
Local Communities

Governance, Gender and the Appropriation of Natural Resources: A Case Study of ‘Left-Behind’ Women’s Collective Action in China

Du, Y., Ravenscroft, N., Wang, Y. & Liu, P., 20 Jan 2019

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

collective action
collective behavior
natural resources
natural resource

The Nowtopia of the riverbank: elder environmental activism

Gearey, M. & Ravenscroft, N., 11 Feb 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
working class
rural community

Blowing the lid off cultural exclusion: constraints to participation in intergenerational celebrations

Wiseman, T., Church, A. & Ravenscroft, N., 12 Jul 2018, p. 1-1. 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearchpeer-review

cultural event
work environment