Dr Katie McQuaid

Dr Katie McQuaid


Katie joined the School of Geography in 2014. She is an anthropologist with expertise on climate change, gender and sexuality, ageing, and human rights in informal urban settings. Her work creatively combines social science and creative methodologies as tools for research, knowledge exchange and social justice in informal urban settings in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

She currently holds a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (2019-2026) for her project 'Gender, Generation and Climate Change (GENERATE): Creative Approaches to Building Inclusive and Climate Resilient Cities in Uganda and Indonesia'. This project brings action research into partnership with some of the most marginalised urban communities, and works with civil society, governments, activists and artists to better understand the 'gender-age-urban' interface of climate change. The GENERATE team is delivering new evidence on how gender, sexuality and age intersect and manifest in inequalities that shape (and inhibit) urban populations' ability to adapt to climate change. These findings are being used to co-develop, pilot and upscale creative interventions that challenge inequalities in order to build more inclusive, gender-transformative and climate-resilient cities. One of GENERATE’s key objectives is to raise the profile, participation and leadership of marginalised groups in climate change knowledge production, planning and policymaking.

Katie is also working with colleagues at Leeds, the FOTEA Foundation and the Uganda Press Photo Award on the project: ‘Documenting Climate Change at the Margins: Photography Masterclass’ (2022-23), which brings together 10 emerging photographers and photojournalists in Uganda to explore the impacts of climate change on marginalised communities and uses visual stories to engage key stakeholders in bringing about change.

In another project, Katie is working with colleagues at UCL and the University of Exeter on the project ‘RES-WELL: Developing a toolkit for Research Wellbeing to support principal investigators and their funders on ethically and emotionally challenging research topics’ (2022-23).

Katie has collaborated with the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures since 2017. She currently works on the AHRC Follow On Funding Grant: ‘Building sustainable improvements in gender equality for youth through creative engagement in Uganda’ (2022-3) that builds on the work of a recent project: ‘Promoting sexual and reproductive health education among adolescents through creative and youth-led practice in India, Malawi and Uganda' (AHRC/MRC, 2017-2020). This work draws on multiple art forms to improve health and educational outcomes among school-going adolescents. In 2017 Katie worked on an AHRC-funded project entitled 'Performing Living Knowledge: Developing a replicable model for arts-based empowerment of marginalised urban communities in Uganda and Malawi'. In the same period she jointly-led an ESRC/Leeds Social Sciences Institute Impact Accelerator Award on girls' education in Jinja, Uganda (2017-18). These transformative projects have creatively combined social science and applied arts methodologies to engage with and mobilise some of the most marginalised urban communities and bring them into meaningful dialogue with local policymakers and practitioners to challenge inequalities.

From 2014-16 Katie led the Uganda strand of an interdisciplinary AHRC-funded project entitled ‘INTERSECTION: Intergenerational Justice, Consumption and Sustainability in Cross-National Perspective’ in collaboration with the University of Sheffield. INTERSECTION also conducted comparative research in China and the UK, as part of the AHRC’s Care for the Future Programme. She conducted over a year’s ethnographic fieldwork (2015-16) drawing on a range of social science and arts-based methods to investigate intergenerational relations, climate change and sustainability.

Katie studied Social Anthropology (MA Hons) at the University of Edinburgh, before completing an MA in the Anthropology of Conflict, Violence and Conciliation (2008) and MSc in Cross-Cultural and Comparative Research Methods (2010) at the University of Sussex. Funded by the ESRC, Katie conducted two years’ ethnographic fieldwork in Uganda (2011-2012) for her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex (2014). Her thesis, entitled ‘Another War: Stories of Violence, Humanitarianism and Human Rights amongst Congolese Refugees in Uganda’ explores how urban refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo engage with humanitarian systems, including a particular focus on the experiences of displaced human rights defenders and LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum-seekers.


  • UKRI Future Leaders Fellow

Research interests

Katie currently leads on her UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship grant: ‘Gender, Generation and Climate Change (GENERATE): Creative Approaches to Building Inclusive and Climate Resilient Cities in Uganda and Indonesia’.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

In the 2018/19 academic year Katie taught on Research Methods: Ideas and Practice in Human Geography, and Environment, Conflict and Policy.

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>