The Team

We are a team of experienced researchers working across Scotland and South Africa. The research team is currently based at a number of institutions, including the University of Stirling, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, and the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation NPC.

Dr Dalene Swanson (PI)

Senior Lecturer, University of Stirling

Dalene is a senior international educator, researcher and academic committed to democracy and socio-ecological egalitarianism in education and society. She specialises in theory and praxis that addresses complex transdisciplinary global challenges associated with social and ecological stresses in ‘glocal’ context. Dalene’s research interests and expertise span reconceptualist curriculum theory, mathematics education in socio-political perspectives, cultural studies, critical theory, critical / ethical internationalisation in education, democracy in education, and social and ecological justice.

Dr Leif Peterson (Co-I)

Managing Director, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation NPC

Leif is a social entrepreneur and social ecologist with a range of research and personal interests pertaining to people and the environment, informal economy culture and business practice. Leif completed his PhD in 2013 with the University of Queensland, studying Cape Town’s informal economy of natural resources and traditional medicines. Leif has worked throughout southern and eastern Africa and Asia-Pacific before jointly founding SLF in 2010. Outside of the office Leif busies himself with crisis management of his two small children, surfing, cricket, hiking and commuting. Leif has lived in South Africa for fourteen years.

Dr Gill Black (Co-I)

Director, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation NPC

Gill began her career as an infectious diseases researcher in 1993. Her experience as a field-based health scientist in Kenya, Brazil, Malawi and South Africa, and extensive interactions with research participants in each of these contexts, catalysed Gill’s transition to the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (SLF) in 2010. In her capacity as a director at SLF, Gill now works to engage with people living in townships and informal settings about the public health concerns and health-related research activities that most affect their lives. Gill has developed a core interest in the use of participatory visual methods (PVM) as platforms for action research to foster community mobilization and transform health practice.

Dr Kirsty Carden (Co-I)

Future Water, University of Cape Town

Kirsty’s current research in Future Water includes a Water Sensitive Design Community of Practice programme; using a diagnostic indicator assessment to understand sustainability transitions towards Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) in the City of Cape Town (Boipelo Madonsela); developing greywater resource guidelines for South Africa; understanding the drivers for, and barriers to, the implementation of WSD in South Africa (David Ellis); enabling a community of practice: network dynamics in building a water sensitive practice (Andrew Bennett); and socio-hydrological assessment of responses to water scarcity in the Western Cape. She also participates in potential Future Water collaborative research into: the governance processes that need to be established to implement WSD; sustainability transitions and the attainment of the SDGs; and benchmarking cities’ responses to water scarcity and their ability to transition to water sensitivity.

Dr Niall Hamilton-Smith (Co-I)

Senior Lecturer, University of Stirling

Niall Hamilton-Smith is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences. He is the Head of the Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology subject group, an Associate Director of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research ( ) and an associate of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research. He is also an Associate Editor of the journal, Criminology and Criminal Justice. Prior to Stirling, Niall worked as a criminologist in the Home Office’s research directorate, working both on the crime reduction programme and on the organised crime research programme.

Dr Guy Lamb (Co-I)

Director of the Safety and Violence Initiative, University of Cape Town

Guy Lamb is the Director of SaVI, a post he has held since October 2012. He also convenes postgraduate courses in the Departments of Political Studies and Public Law at UCT. Prior to this he was the Programme Head of the Arms Management Programme at the Institute for Security Studies. He has served on the UN Security Council Panel of Experts on Liberia.

Prof Cherrel Africa (Co-I)

Associate Professor and Chair of Political Studies, University of the Western Cape

Prof Cherrel Africa is Chair of of the Political Studies department at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Prior to UWC, she was at the Institute for Democracy. Her research and writing focuses on South African politics, political communication, conceptions of democracy, voting behaviour, elections, election campaigns, and the relations between political parties and the media in South Africa. Professor Africa is a regulator speaker on South African politics for media in this context, including the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and eNCA, a 24-hour television news broadcaster that focuses on South African and African news stories.

Prof Laurence Piper (Co-I)

Professor of Political Studies, University of the Western Cape

A graduate of the Universities of Natal and Cambridge, Laurence Piper is interested in informal urban life in the global south, both economic and political, and the implications for citizenship and participation in democratic politics and institutions. Within this broad frame, issues of identity and inclusion, and violence and reconciliation are recurring themes. Laurence Piper is Professor of Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape. With a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2000, he has published extensively on Zulu nationalism, the Inkatha Freedom Party and electoral politics in South Africa. His current research concerns new democratic theory and innovations, particularly new forms of participation in local governance and development in the global South Africa. Prof Piper is an NRF-rated scientist.

Dr Anna Wilson (Co-I)

Lecturer, University of Stirling

Anna Wilson is a Lecturer in Lifelong Learning in the Faculty of Social Sciences.  She is a member of both the Professional Education and Teaching Qualification for Further Education teaching teams.  Her recent research is in the areas of professional learning and learning to be a professional, informal learning and the ways in which technological artefacts can shape learning opportunities and experiences.  Prior to this, Anna was a nuclear physicist who worked in the US, UK and Australia, ultimately working at the Australian National University for over 12 years.  In that context, she won two national teaching awards and co-led a national project on undergraduates’ experiences of research.  Anna completed her second PhD in Education at the University of Stirling in 2016.

Dr Jennifer Dickie (Co-I)

Lecturer, University of Stirling

Jennifer lectures in Environmental Geography at the University of Stirling. She completed her PhD in Physical Geography at the University of Leicester. Her first role was as a researcher and teaching developer in the HEFCE-funded Spatial Literacy in Learning and Teaching CETL, investigating the pedagogies of mobile Geographical Information Science (GIS) and Virtual Reality with particular focus on human/environmental applications. Jennifer has researched on: ‘Adaptations to Rural Communities through Living with Climate Change’ (RCUK Rural Economy and Land Use Programme); ‘New Urbanisms, New Citizens: Children and Young People’s Everyday Life and Participation in Sustainable Communities’ (ESRC), Affective Digital Histories: Recreating De-Industrial Places, 1970s to the Present’ (AHRC) and ‘Rural Hybrid Energy Enterprise Systems’ (EPSRC Bridging the Urban Rural Divide programme). She is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the RGS-IBG Energy Geographies Research Group Communications Officer, and an advisor for the International Energy Justice Council.

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