Dr Noleen R. Chikowore

Dr Noleen R. Chikowore


Noleen is an interdisciplinary social scientist and a Fulbright scholar who completed doctoral studies in Community Sustainability and Environmental Science and Policy at Michigan State University with a specialization in Gender Justice and Environmental Change. Previously, she has taught at the University of St Andrews, Michigan State University and the Catholic University of Zimbabwe. Her research, which informs her teaching, aims to challenge and reshape the way waste is conceptualized, managed, and understood, with a focus on addressing traditional perspectives that have historically influenced waste management practices. For instance, what is waste, who defines and to whom, how, why and where are some of the key questions I try to understand the causes, impacts and potential solutions to manage ‘waste’. Her work aims to inform urban sustainability policies to create robust and inclusive cities in both the global North and South, as the need for strategies is increasingly evident.

Research interests

Noleen's research interests cover a wide range of urban sustainability and waste issues, covering livelihoods, informality, waste governance, citizen science, and social, environmental and spatial justice. Some of the themes and questions I explore include:

  • Livelihoods and informality: What factors enable or disenable informal recyclers to sustain their livelihoods and their coping strategies? What strategies and policies can be implemented to integrate informal recyclers into formal waste management systems while respecting their autonomy and expertise?
  • Waste governance: How do informal and formal waste management systems actors interact, and how do these interactions affect waste governance and sustainability? What strategies and policies can be implemented to integrate informal recyclers into formal waste management systems while respecting their autonomy and expertise? 
  • Citizen science and environmental volunteering: How do citizen science and litter-picking programs empower local communities to take ownership of their environment and address litter-related issues? How do these initiatives foster a sense of community pride and environmental stewardship? How can litter-picking data generated by citizens be used to advance research and policy?

Currently, she is working on a project funded by B/A Leverhulme Small Research Grants to identify the assets and capabilities of street vendors that enable them to engage in their livelihood activity, assess the factors that contribute to street vendors' vulnerability and examine how they cope and develop resilience in their urban livelihoods in Harare, pre and post-COVID-19. The study findings will help identify possible development interventions to build more inclusive cities and enhance human security in urban environments.

<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 Community Sustainability and Environmental Science and Policy Michigan State University, USA
  • M.A Environmental Policy and Planning, University of Zimbabwe
  • B.A Dual Honours Geography and Literature in English, Catholic University of Zimbabwe

Professional memberships

  • Citizen Science Association

Student education

Noleen’s teaching focuses on developing undergraduate and postgraduate students' capacity to recognise and understand the complexities of environment-society interactions and critically think about their assumptions, biases and beliefs as they reflect on possible sustainable solutions. She is actively involved in the University and the School’s Curriculum Redefined Program. In collaboration with colleagues, they will continuously design and implement innovative learning experiences that blend traditional content with real-world applications, technology and interdisciplinary approaches to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship
  • Social and Political Dimensions of Sustainability