Ruth Smith


I started my Postgraduate Research Degree in 2018 in the School of Earth and Environment studying climate change adaptation and gender studies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to this I graduated from my MSc in Environment and Development at the University of Leeds in 2018 and from my BSc in Geography and Geology at the University of Manchester in 2014. I have also worked as a Graduate Environment Consultant for an Energy and Environment Consultancy, an Adaptation Intern at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and a Technical Support Advisor for Natural England (the Government’s advisor on the natural environment). My Masters dissertation focused on local perceptions of climate change in the East Usambara Mountains of north-eastern Tanzania and how this affects support for and engagement with NGO-led adaptation initiatives.

My interest in the natural environment and earth surface processes led me to my undergraduate degree in Geography and Geology where I focused my learning on climate hazards and long-term environmental change. This brought me to the realisation that these events and changes do not occur in a vacuum and cannot be studied without also incorporating analysis of human-environment interactions and social science. My MSc and now PhD research allows me to explore how short-term climate hazards and long-term climate change expose uneven development processes and underlying inequalities that mediate vulnerability. As such I advocate that climate change adaptation cannot be promoted without challenging the underlying social inequalities that disadvantage certain populations.

Research Project

Funded through a Priestley International Centre for Climate Scholarship, my project looks at ‘Climate-Smart Agriculture’ in sub-Saharan Africa - i.e. agricultural practices that aim to increase productivity whilst simultaneously increasing resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With particular focus on Tanzania, my research will take an interdisciplinary approach through analysing how gendered access to resources – for example land tenure, government/extension services, and agricultural/climate information – affect the ability of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices.

Research interests

My current research interests are interdisciplinary and centre around climate change adaptation; climate impacts, vulnerability and risks and their relationship with gender; marginalisation; political ecology and international development.


  • MSc, Environment and Development, University of Leeds (Distinction)
  • BSc, Geography and Geology, University of Manchester (First Class)

Research groups and institutes

  • Environment and Development
  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • Social and Political Sciences