Sarah Oakes

Sarah Oakes


I am a postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds, on the Leverhulme-funded Doctoral Training Programme in Extinction Studies.

Sitting at the intersections of work on climate change, food security, Indigenous knowledge and cultural extinction, my research aims to critically engage with and consider potential synergies between Indigenous epistemologies and Eurocentric science in an interdisciplinary way. My PhD research, founded in feminist and participatory praxis, takes a case study of potato farming communities in the Peruvian Andes with the aim of co-producing knowledge outputs through participatory techniques like video, then platforming Indigenous voices to influence international decision-making and foster social change.

In 2023, I was selected to be one of the university's Priestley Climate Scholars. I am also a member of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, and the Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems (CELCE).

I come to Leeds with a BA (Hons) and PGCE in Modern Languages, and 18 years of practical experience in international development, education and environmental research. After extensive work overseas in Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Australasia, I speak multiple languages and have experience with wide-ranging geographies, stakeholders (including vulnerable populations), sectors and themes (including volunteering, community development, education, forestry and climate change). I remain actively involved in the not-for-profit sector, having founded then directed an NGO supporting disadvantaged young people in Peru for 15 years.

Research interests

  • Participatory/co-production approaches to research, learning and action
  • Indigenous knowledge and worldviews
  • Interspecies respect and communication
  • Biocultural heritage
  • Sustainable food systems
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation policy and practice
  • Trauma, mental health and neurodiversity
  • Social justice


  • PGCE - Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Modern European Languages), University of Sheffield
  • BA Hons (2:1) Modern European Languages (French, Spanish, Italian), Durham University

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainable Food Systems
  • Climate Change Adaptation, Vulnerability and Services
  • Climate Science and Impacts
  • Food safety, food security and global health
  • Social and Political Dimensions of Sustainability
  • Sustainability Research Institute