- Course: PhD in the School of Earth and Environment
- PhD title: A critical analysis of the discourses of conservation and science on the Galápagos Islands
- Nationality: British
- Job title: Research Fellow
- Company: SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, The Sussex Energy Group
I completed an interdisciplinary (ESRC/NERC funded) PhD at the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) in 2012. My research focus was on conservation politics on the Galapagos islands, and through the course of my PhD I applied a combination of Q methodology, ethnography and environmental history to investigate the multiple discourses of conservation and science on the Galapagos Islands, and to explore the implications of discursive differences for conservation and society on the islands.
Following my PhD, I took on a temporary post-doctoral position at SRI, examining the role of so-called boundary organisations (institutions in which science and politic intertwine) on the social status of knowledge about climate change. The research involved carrying out a cross-national comparison of the boundary spanning arrangements in different contexts, and exploring how these impact on the knowledge produced, asking whether it is possible to draw out lessons to inform the production of more socially and environmentally relevant knowledge.
Since 2012 I have been a post-doctoral research fellow at SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research), Sussex University. I am currently undertaking research into the Governance of Geoengineering as part of a multi-disciplinary collaborative project between Sussex University, UCL and Oxford University (http://geoengineering-governance-research.org).
The project examines the social, ethical and political implications of climate geoengineering proposals. My particular work currently focuses on the ways in which emerging policy debates around geoengineering are being framed, examining how policy spaces are being either opened up or closed down around particular pathways, and questioning what the implications for governance of the stabilisation or dominance of particular framings of the issue might be.
Cairns, R. (2012) Understanding Science in Conservation: a Q Method Approach on the Galápagos Islands. Conservation and Society 10(3): 217-31.
Cairns, R., Sallu, S. & Goodman S. (2013) Questioning Calls to Consensus in Conservation: a Q study of Conservation Discourses on Galápagos. Environmental Conservation (in press).
Hoppe, R., Wesselink, A. & Cairns, R. Lost in the problem: the role of boundary organizations in the social status of climate change knowledge.' Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Climate Change (under review).