Clare Saunders: Environmental politics

Clare Saunders: Environmental politics


I am Claire Saunders Associate
Professor in Environmental Politics in the Environment and Sustainability
Institute. Teaching wise I teach the politics of protest. I get students
to analyse a data set that we collected by going out and handing surveys to
protesters and collecting them back. So students learn about how to do research
methods. One of the pieces of research I’ve done recently is about how people
network with environmental organisations and what effect that has on the way they
use energy in their homes. Then we’ve shown that people who are or who share
memberships of lots of environmental organisations with other people, tend to
use less energy in their home than people who do not share memberships in
environmental organisations. Another significant part of my work is on
protest. One of the pieces of work I’ve been doing is in relation to the
course I teach on protest politics, where we’ve shown that protest is not
like some people think. They think that protesters are people who may be slightly
irrational or people who can’t be bothered to engage with modern politics
but we’ve shown that the stalwarts, the people that engage in protests the most
are actually quite often people who are engaged in formal politics as well. Some
of the work, as I’ve already said, is around shaping pro-environmental
behaviours. I began doing some work on Cornish textiles and sustainable
fashion and in October just gone we ran a big symposium here. We invited local
Cornish textile industries along to talk about the challenges of
making the textile industry sustainable in Cornwall. I want to tie that into
a broader project about how we might encourage people to wear more pro-environmentally friendly clothing, to stop buying so many fashion items and then
discarding them and throwing them away. Our VSI is an amazing place to work
because I find myself in this office next to an ecologist on one side and a
geographer on the other side and I’m political scientist so that means we can
share ideas.

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