Dr Paula Novo

Dr Paula Novo


I am an ecological economist with an interdisciplinary background in agriculture, development studies, and economics and policy. Before joining the University of Leeds in December 2021, I was a Lecturer and Deputy Programme Director for the MSc Ecological Economics at Scotland’s Rural College – University of Edinburgh.  My research aims to understand human-nature relationships and environmental governance processes with the aim of supporting transitions towards sustainability. To do this, I draw on impact-oriented and inter and transdisciplinary approaches that emphasise collaboration and dialogue across and beyond academia.

I really enjoy teaching and interacting with students. My teaching philosophy emphasises student-focused and research based approaches. I try to create authentic learning environments by adopting problem based and team based learning, as both these elements enable students to learn in a situated and contextualized way, as well as to develop and practise other important skills,  such as empathy, negotiation, listening, leadership, etc. I am very interested in exploring innovative teaching and learning methods, and recently I received the Advance HE Fellowship status. I am also an External Examiner at the University of York for the BSc / MEnv Environment, Economics and Ecology.

Research interests

I develop my research work along the following main research lines:

  1. Environmental values and perceptions: This includes addressing questions such as how people value and relate to nature, how do they perceive environmental changes and how do values connect to practices on the ground. 
  2. Environmental governance and policy instruments: This includes questions such as what values underpin different governance approaches, how do multiple policy instruments interact on the ground and how do governance framings influence management decisions. 
  3. Resilience and climate change adaptation: Key questions I address here are how values influence socio-ecological resilience, how do environmental changes impact people and how do people respond to those changes. 

In addition to these research lines, I have a more recent research interest on understanding the role of emotions in sustainability transformations and how arts-based approaches can be used to engage with emotions and access fields and topics traditionally difficult to research, such as conflict and power dynamics.  

My research combines both quantitative and qualitative methods with an emphasis on participatory and, more recently, innovative and creative methods such as forum theatre and participatory video, as well as quanti-qualitative approaches such as Q-methodology. I also have experience in collecting empirical data through ethnographic methods, surveys and behavioural and experimental economics approaches (e.g. games and field experiments), and I have conducted empirical research in Scotland, Spain, Mexico, Nicaragua, Suriname, Ethiopia, Myanmar and South Africa.

<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>


  • PhD
  • MSc
  • BEng
  • PGCert

Professional memberships

  • International Society for Ecological Economics
  • European Society for Ecological Economics

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • Economics and Policy for Sustainability

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>