Tom Smith PhD and Post-doc:

Passed his PhD viva in December 2017, with no corrections and many commendations from the internal and external examiners, Dr Mike Kesby and Dr Pete North. His project, entitled Geographies of the Maker Movement, was supervised by Emilia Ferraro and Louise Reid, and latterly by Dan Clayton. Tom will Graduate this June, and has recently published articles in Progress in Human Geography, and Scottish Geographical Journal.

Tom has also secured a two-year (and tenure-tracked) post-doctoral position in Environmental Studies at Masaryk in Brno, Czech Republic, with a focus on community/solidarity economies, starting in late July. Tom reports that there are very interesting colleagues and initiatives going on there, and that’s he’s really excited to start.

We are doubly delighted for Tom!

McKee and Leahy Secure Funding for Immigration Act Event

GOSSIP-ers Drs Kim McKee and Sharon Leahy have secured funding from the Housing Studies Association to host an event on the UK Immigration Act, which will be held in St Andrews in the summer. This one-day symposium will bring together inter-disciplinary critical scholars, activists and colleagues from policy and practice to discuss emerging research on the UK Immigration Act and its impact on housing and other public services.  One of the key facets of this legislation is the ‘Right to Rent’ provisions, which require private landlords to conduct identity checks prior to letting their property.  These requirements have significant implications not only for non-UK citizens, but also for those UK citizens who cannot readily prove their ‘British’ status.  It also places a new duty on landlords to ‘police’ the border.  Moreover, given that immigration is a reserved power of the UK Westminster government, whilst housing is devolved, it is a policy which opens up interesting governing tensions.

Against the backdrop of the broader ‘hostile environment’ being fostered by the current Conservative government in Westminster this event seeks to bring together researchers and key stakeholders working on this contemporary, and continually evolving policy issue, in order to drive forward scholarly debate, and inform and influence policy and practice.

For more information please contact Dr Kim McKee (Director of the Centre for Housing Research.)

GOSSIP hellos at goodbyes!


We are sad to be saying farewell to Dr Joe Crawford at the end of this semester. A few lines from our Head of School, Bill Austin “We will all be delighted for him, yet sorry to see him go – Dr Joe Crawford (and his hat!) are moving on to a new job at Sheffield – well done Joe, you’ve made a wonderful and refreshing contribution to our research and teaching environment.”

To celebrate his departure, Joe gave a talk at the GOSSIP seminar on December 12th, titled: The Scholastic Point of View: accounting for the distortions which arise from the academic’s hermeneutic relation to the world. 

Thank you Joe! We will miss you and wish you all the best in your new role.

Welcome back

Dr Kim McKee returned from a year’s maternity leave in November, after giving birth to a little boy called Calum in 2016.

Following her return, she will be continue to work with fellow GOSSIPERS Drs Sharon Leahy and Joe Crawford to investigate the impacts of the ‘Right to Rent’ provisions of the UK Immigration Acts 2014 and 2016.  They have already published two papers in Antipode and People Place and Policy Online from their initial wave of fieldwork.

Kim will also be assuming her role as co-investigator in the ESRC/AHRC/JRF funded UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE).  As part of the Centre’s programme of work in 2018 she will be leading an exemplar project on the ‘Frustrated’ Housing Aspirations of Generation Rent, supported by Dr Adriana Soaita (Research Associate, University of Glasgow).  This project builds on Kim’s longstanding interest in the housing inequalities experienced by young people in the UK today.

Sustainability in the Curriculum Symposium

Dr Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs (School of Geography and Sustainable Development) and Dr Shona Russell (School of Management), in collaboration with Dr David Evans (Pro-Dean Curriculum – Arts & Divinity), Mr David Stutchfield  (Estates) and Dr Rehema White (School of Geography and Sustainable Development), have been successful in this round of the Teaching Development Fund for a ‘Sustainability in the Curriculum Symposium’. This project will create opportunities to discuss and further develop the pedagogical approaches that are being undertaken, or could be used, to enhance sustainability-related learning and teaching (SLT) at our institution through a one-day cross-institution symposium and development of a digital archive of SLT activity. This project has been developed in partnership with Pro-Deans Curriculum (Drs Martin Campbell and Sharon Leahy), Transition University of St Andrews (Mr Alistair Macleod and Dr Ailsa McKenzie) and the Sustainable Development Working Group headed by the Quaestor.

The University of St Andrews has been recognized nationally as a leader in sustainability teaching (e.g. Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development and the UK Universities that Count 2010 Report), operational sustainability (Scottish Green Energy Award for Guardbridge Biomass 2016, energy efficient data centre hold a Gold CEEDA award 2014) and student engagement through Transition University of St Andrews (Green Gown Awards and repeated funding from Scottish Government). In response to increasing requirements to report on climate change impacts, this project supports the University’s strategic commitment to sustainability by documenting and highlighting innovative sustainability learning and teaching practice.

If you want to know more about the project please contact Dr Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs ( or Dr Shona Russell (

Launch of UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence

The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) held its launch event on the 18th October in Parliament Square, London.

Funded by the ESRC, AHRC and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, CaCHE is a new national research centre which aims to tackle the complex housing problems at a national, devolved, regional and local level. It involves eleven partner organisations including the University of St Andrews (Co-investigator, McKee, School of Geography & SD).

The launch event was hosted by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), included keynote presentations from:

  • Lord Bob Kerslake, Chair, CaCHE Advisory Board
  • Professor Ken Gibb, Director & Principal Investigator, CaCHE
  • Dr Emma Stone, Director of Policy & Research, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Matthew Howell, Managing Director for UK & Ireland, RICS

The successful event brought together CaCHE members and key partners from policy, practice and academia, providing an opportunity to learn more about the research CaCHE will be undertaking over the next 5 years.


The photo shows CaCHE members at our recent Autumn retreat in Glasgow.


McKee Publishes New Book on Urban Governance!

SGSD Senior Lecturer Dr Kim McKee has published a new book: ‘Decentring Urban Governance: narratives, resistance and contestation’ as part of Routledge’s Governance and Public Policy series. Co-Edited with Professor Mark Bevir (UC Berkeley) and Dr Peter Matthews (Stirling), the book emerges from a workshop that Kim co-organised with Mark at the University of California, Berkeley in 2016.

Decentring Urban Governance: narratives, resistance and contestation seeks to rethink governance not as a particular state formation, but as the diverse policies emerging associated with the impact of modernist social science on policy making, considering the diverse meanings that inspire governing practices across time, space, and policy sectors in an urban context.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the book goes beyond neoliberalism, and is interested in other webs of meaning through which actors encounter, interpret, and evaluate social science, which have received less analytical attention. All these different webs of meaning – elite narratives, social science, and local traditions – influence patterns of action. The book creates an analytical space by which to consider situated agency and localised resistance to the discourses and policies of political elites, including the myriad ways in which local actors have resisted practices of governance on the ground.

This text will be of key interest to scholars, students and practitioners of urban governance, governance and more broadly to the social sciences, housing, social policy, sociology, geography, law and welfare studies.

Contributors include:

New research centre to inform housing policy in the UK

The University of St Andrews is a key partner in a new UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE).

The Centre will launch on 1st August 2017 for five years and will receive £6 million of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). A further £1.5m of funding will come from the consortium itself.

The new national research centre, which will be independent from government and other interests, is a collaboration between nine UK Universities and four non-HEI organisations.

Housing has a considerable impact on our society and economy. Almost 1 in 10 British jobs are in the housing sector, and more than a fifth of household spending goes on rent, mortgage payments, home repairs, maintenance and improvements.  The availability, cost and design of housing impacts on people’s aspirations, their health and wellbeing, and even their children’s education. Failure of housing markets leads to wider social and economic problems, chief among them poverty and homelessness.

Dr Kim McKee, Director of the Centre for Housing Research, at St Andrews and Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development, is a key partner in the centre.  She brings expertise in housing inequalities, drawing on her recent research on ‘generation rent’ which highlights an emerging housing aspirations gap.

Dr McKee said:

“Housing is fundamental to understanding contemporary patterns of social-spatial inequality in the UK. It has an acute impact on a vast array of individual and societal outcomes, from health and well-being to economic growth.

“CaCHE provides a critical opportunity to mobilise inter-disciplinary expertise, and bring together key partners from across the UK and internationally, to develop real solutions for housing policy and practice.”

CaCHE aims to advance knowledge of the housing system, provide robust evidence to inform housing policy and practice across the UK, and bring together a wide range of stakeholders with the goal of tackling housing problems at a national, devolved, regional, and local level.

The work of the programme will focus on six overlapping themes:

  • Housing and the economy;
  • Understanding housing markets: demand and need, supply and delivery;
  • Housing aspirations, choices and outcomes;
  • Housing, poverty, health, education and employment;
  • Housing and neighbourhood design, sustainability and place-making;
  • Multi-level governance.

Professor Ken Gibb (University of Glasgow) will be Principal Investigator and Director of CaCHE.  He said:

“I am delighted that the University of Glasgow and our partners will be taking the lead on this incredibly important subject.  The serious and complex problems of the housing system are too important to ignore. This is why I’m looking forward to this major new initiative making a serious contribution to tackling one of the most pressing policy problems in the UK today.”

Professor Jane Elliott, CEO of the Economic and Social Research Council said:

“As a nation we face key housing challenges, such as a lack of affordable housing preventing young people from owning their own home, meeting the housing needs of an ageing population, building sustainable houses that are resilient to flooding and climate change, and tackling homelessness.”

“This Centre draws together internationally renowned experts across a diverse range of fields. It will serve as a vital national institution, and provide a leading voice in the UK on housing issues.”

Sustainability at Explorathon 2017: GoGolf goes public!

It was billed as “One Night, Unlimited Discovery”! Explorathon is an EU funded initiative supporting public engagement with research at several Scottish Universities. Over 1700 people chose to explore the research underway at the University of St Andrews on 29th September. There were interactive games, displays and plenty of questions to discuss. The Byre Theatre buzzed as visitors young and old moved through the stalls and attended events. One of the stalls showcased the research from GoGolf. This EU Erasmus+ co-funded programme is examining what the contributions of golf and of sport more widely might be to health and wellbeing, and exploring how we might increase access to and participation in golf for young people, in five European countries. These questions help us support the golf sector to address social sustainability challenges. Rehema White demonstrated how we design research tools to tackle our research objectives, and visitors had the chance to consider their attitudes to golf. One young boy said that he liked to play golf because it was calming. Other people talked about cultural differences in perceptions of golf. The stall also exhibited beautiful pictures of natural environments in Scotland, and a sample survey was available allowing people to test one way of measuring their degree of nature connection. We discussed how doing physical activity outdoors can add benefit, and children offered opinions on which natural environments they prefer. Several youngsters said that being at the seaside was more fun than being in the woods or on the mountains, because they could play in the sand and swim!

Guest lecture from Prof Audrey Kobayashi

The GOSSIP research group were thrilled to welcome Professor Audrey Kobayashi from Queens University, Canada to deliver a lecture to the school and the wider university community.

For those who might not be familiar with her work, Professor Kobayashi works on a wide range of topics and is recognised for her writing on gender, race, culture and community. She also does work with community groups, government organisations, and other stakeholders. Her work speaks across disciplines, so I am anticipating a great talk that will be of interest to many of us.

Health Volunteering research is well received at recent event

This event, ‘Towards Global Citizenship’ held at the RCPSG in September, featured clinicians, health policy-makers and global health experts talking about international health volunteering in the UK and Scottish context. Benet’s poster ‘Examining the social geographies of international health volunteering’ received keen interest from delegates, a special mention and generous round of applause in the plenary session. Benet had a great day making contacts and raising awareness of what social science can add to understandings in this highly topical area.

Congratulations Esther!

The SGSD’s Writer in Residence Esther Rutter has won the 2017 Roger Deakin Award. Awarded by The Society of Authors/Authors Foundation, the award assists writers with research costs for works in progress. Previous winners include Lucy Jones (Foxes Unearthed), Helen Scales (Spirals in Time), Caspar Henderson (The Book of Barely Imagined Beings), and Rob Cowen (Skimming Stones and Other Ways of Being in the Wild). The award was set up in memory of nature writer Roger Deakin (1943 – 2006), author of Wildwood, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, and Waterlog and co-founder of Common Ground.

Creating a splash in Ullapool

Ullapool is located on the North West coast of Scotland, sandwiched between mountains (Bheinn Ghobblach to the west, An Teallach to the south west) and the Atlantic. The hub of the town sits on the edge of a sea loch, behind the ferry port, from which the Caledonian MacBrayne does the return trip to Stornoway each day.

On the 8th and 9th of July 2017, Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club (CRC) hosted its annual Scottish Coastal Rowing Regatta. 23 Scottish Rowing Clubs took part, including St Andrews CRC. Nina Laurie and Jen Remnant, both GOSSIP researchers, took on dual roles as part of the event – both rowers for St Andrews CRC and researchers as part of the ‘Rowing the Waves’ project.

The project is exploring the scope and impact of Scottish Coastal Rowing on coastal communities, using a mixed method approach. In addition to interviews, focus groups and surveys, the project features ethnographic methods, which were employed in the fieldwork in Ullapool. Furthermore presence at the regatta meant that the researchers were able to engage with a larger number of Scottish Coastal Rowers, and introduce them to the project, as well as catch up with project partners and participants

Crafting the future! Knitting solutions in UN conference on learning for sustainability.

GOSSIP members Esther Rutter and Rehema White facilitated craftivism at a UN conference on learning for sustainability in Edinburgh last week! Participants knitted squares using left over wool remnants during a workshop on values and talks on sustainability action. One participant even crocheted a square using a pen. Squares were sewed together to create a matrix symbolising the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This piece of crafted work was hung in a tree to raise awareness of the work of the conference and to signify the needs to work in partnership and to acknowledge different actors and skills in our pursuit of sustainable development.


Learning underpins the capacity of people to fulfil their potential, to be active members of flourishing communities and to encourage organisations to pursue sustainable pathways. Our network organisation, Learning for Sustainability Scotland (LfS Scotland), is Scotland’s United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development (UN RCE ESD). These organisations are each based at a university, but influence all forms of learning for sustainability across their regions: formal, including schools, universities and colleges; informal, including communities and institutions; and informal, including wider cultural and media influences. There is now an international network of over 150 UN RCEs.

Last week LfS Scotland hosted the UK annual conference of UN RCEs.

The crafted piece will be taken to the European UN RCE conference in September, representing the inputs and aspirations of UK participants, and then will be displayed at the Global UN RCE conference.

Esther Rutter, Writer in Residence wins book deal

In January 2017 Fife-based writer Esther Rutter decided to quit her day job to write and knit her way round the British Isles, combining locally-produced wool and historic knitting patterns to explore UK’s long love affair with wool.

After entering writer development agency’s XpoNorth’s Tweet Your Pitch competition on 6 January 2017 with her idea for This Golden Fleece, Esther attracted the attention of Edinburgh literary agent Jenny Brown. There was a flurry of interest in the book at the London Book Fair, and, after a two-way auction, world rights in the book were won by Bella Lacey, Editorial Director of Granta Books in April. This Golden Fleece is due to be published by Granta Books in Autumn 2019.

Esther Rutter commented: “Tweet Your Pitch is a fantastic initiative, enabling new non-fiction writers like me to grab the attention of publishers and agents with a dash of chutzpah and a good idea. Thank you to Jenny Brown, XpoNorth and the University of St Andrews for making my long-held dream of becoming a writer into a reality.”

Bella Lacey of Granta said: “I’ve been captivated by Esther Rutter’s absorbing history of wool and her intimate, inspiring mediation of the craft and history of knitting. She’s an instinctive storyteller, with a brilliant eye for detail, and brings startling new, and forgotten, histories to the surface. I’m thrilled to be welcoming her to the Granta list.”

Esther lives in Ceres and has just been awarded a Writer in Residence position at St Andrews University within the School of Geography and Sustainable Development. You can follow her journey on Instagram@thisgoldenfleece or Twitter @thisgoldfleece.

New Data Club starts

Our first get together took place in beautiful sunshine on Tues afternoon (8th May). The fortnightly meeting will bring together PGR/ECRs to get together and go through qualitative data. One person brings a transcript and we work through it as a group, eat cake and talk about qual data more generally. There is no expectation that attendees would come to the group every time it ran, though there is the expectation that people wouldn’t only come when bringing their own data.

Photos from our recent Away Day

Our first ever GOSSIP Away Day took place on Wednesday 3rd May at the St Andrews Botanical Gardens.


New research centre to inform housing policy in the UK

The University of St Andrews is a key partner in a new UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) which was announced on Friday 7th April.

The Centre will launch on 1August 2017 for five years and will receive £6 million of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). A further £1.5m of funding will come from the consortium itself.

Dr Kim McKee, Director of the Centre for Housing Research, at St Andrews and Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development, is a key partner in the centre.  She brings expertise in housing inequalities, drawing on her recent research on ‘generation rent’ which highlights an emerging housing aspirations gap.

Louise Reid hosts Fife Schools Event – 15th March.

On 15th March we welcomed 160 Higher Geography Pupils (& their teachers) from across the 18 Fife Secondary Schools for a mini-conference on geography. Led by GOSSIP member Dr Louise Reid, we talked with the pupils about a wide range of topics from housing (Dr Reid) and population change (Dr McCollum) to glaciology (Dr Sevestre), malaria (Dr Cox-Singh) and geomorphology (Dr Cowton), demonstrating the breadth of the subject and the potential opportunities for future study in the discipline. The aims of the event were to give pupils a taste of cutting-edge research in geography to supplement what they learn in class, and to enthuse them about future careers/studies in geography. The event was organised in combination with Claire MacLeod, principal teacher of Geography at Levenmouth Academy in Buckhaven, who is Fife representative of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers.

Health Volunteering in Scotland – 9th March

Benet Reid gave a presentation at the March meeting of Scottish NHS  Volunteer Managers, about a plan for collaborative research on health volunteering in Scotland. His ideas were well-received, raising some exciting possibilities for collaborations in the near future, and beyond.

Benet Reid

A Question of Sport – 8th March

Jen Remnant is on the ‘editorial collective’ of a BSA (British Sociological Association) funded blog. Her latest contribution is about rowing and can be found here: