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Professor Carolyn Snell

BA (Hons), MA, PhD (York)

  • Professor of Social Policy
  • Chair of the Board of Examiners

Visit Professor Carolyn Snell's profile on the York Research Database to see a full list of publications and browse her research related activities.


Areas of expertise

  • Climate change and climate policy
  • Environmental justice
  • Environmental harm and crime
  • Just transition to net zero
  • Food insecurity and policy
  • Fuel poverty
  • Inequality
  • Participation and protest

Academic biography

I am a Professor of Social Policy with a multidisciplinary background and joined the Department in 2007. My career began with a degree in Politics and English Literature and was followed by an MA and PhD in Social Policy. Following this I held a research post at the Stockholm Environment Institute where I worked on the social and public policy dimensions of transport policies.

Since 2011 my research and publications have largely focused on energy policy in the UK, with a particular interest in fuel poverty. In 2011 I received a grant from Eaga Charitable Trust to investigate the relationship between fuel poverty, welfare reforms and disabled people and in 2014 I received an EPSRC grant to research whether food bank recipients were facing a 'heat or eat' dilemma as suggested by many news reports. I held a UKERC grant between 2015-2018 that considered the policy effectiveness of energy efficiency policies aimed at households vulnerable to fuel poverty policy effectiveness of energy efficiency policies aimed at households vulnerable to fuel poverty.

Between 2020-2021 I worked alongside Kelli Kennedy on an ESRC NPIF Accelerating Business Collaboration Funding knowledge exchange project with one of the UK’s large supermarkets, aiming to identify ethical and sustainable ways in which the industry might address food insecurity.   

I am currently academic lead on a Nuffield funded project that seeks to understand how the UK’s transition to net zero will affect families, and the communities in which they live.

Professional activities

I am co-lead of the UK Social Policy Association's Climate Justice and Social Policy group.

I am a member of the ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership’s Academic Quality Committee and also sit on the University of York Graduate Research School’s Policy and Programmes Committee. 

I am Deputy Chair of the University’s Plastic Network. 


My current research interests are:

  • Fuel poverty and policy 
  • Climate policy 
  • Energy policy
  • Just transition to net zero 
  • Environmental justice
  • Environmental harm
  • Disability
  • Public participation in policy 

Current research project:

I am currently academic lead on a Nuffield funded project that seeks to understand how the UK's transition to net zero will affect families, and the communities in which they live

Previous funded research:

• How might we improve housing management to enhance health and wellbeing, Wallace, A., Carslaw, N. & Snell, C.J., Innovate UK (2020)

• Policy pathways to justice in energy efficiency, Snell, C.J. & Bevan, M.A., EPSRC (2015)

• Heat or Eat: Food and Austerity in Rural England, Snell, C.J., EPSRC (2014)

• Identifying sustainable pathways out of in- work poverty, Swaffield, J., Bradshaw, J.R., Snell, C.J. & Tunstall, B., ESRC/City of York Council/JRF/York St John College (2013)

• Fuel poverty and disability, Snell, C.J., Beresford, B.A.,  Bevan, M.A., EAGA Charitable Trust (2012)

• Sustainable schools project in Wakefield, Snell, C.J., City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (2009)

• Supporting customers with affordability issues, Snell, C.J., Consumer Council for Water (2008)

PhD supervision

I have an interdisciplinary research background, and I am trained in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. As such I am interested in supervising a range of topics as long as they are relevant to the environment and social policy.

Research labels:

Housing, health, social research methods, comparative and global social policy



Snell, C., Anderson, S. and Thomson, H. (2023) ‘If Not Now, Then When? Pathways to Embed Climate Change Within Social Policy’, Social Policy and Society, pp. 1–20.

Kennedy, K. and Snell, C. (2023) ‘Relationships between supermarkets and food charities in reducing food insecurity: lessons learned’Voluntary Sector Review, pp. 1–10. 

Middlemiss, L. et al. (2023) ‘Conceptualising socially inclusive environmental policy: a just transition to Net Zero’, Social Policy and Society, pp. 1–21.                                                                                                                               
Snell, C.J, Scott, M., Jenkins, K., Kennedy, K., Thomson, H., Yenneti, K., Stockton, H., Gough, I., (forthcoming, 2022). Climate justice, social policy, and the transition to net zero in the UK Social Policy Review 34, Policy Press.                                                                                                                          
Ambrosio-Albalá, P., Middlemiss, L., Owen, A., Hargreaves, T., Emmel, N., Gilbertson, J., Tod, A., Snell, C., Mullen, C., Longhurst, N., Gillard, R. (2020) From rational to relational: How energy poor households engage with the British retail energy market Energy Research and Social Science 70.                                                                                                                           

Middlemiss, L., Ambrosio-Albalá, P., Emmel, N., Gillard, R., Gilbertson, J., Hargreaves, T., Mullen, C., Ryan, T., Snell, C. and Tod, A. (2019) Energy poverty and social relations: A capabilities approach Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 55, Pages 227-235.

Pariyar, B., Lovett, J. & Snell, C.J. (2018) ’Inequality of access in irrigation systems of the Mid-Hills of Nepal’, Area Development and Policy, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 60-78.

Gillard, R., Snell, C.J. and Bevan, M.A. (2017) Advancing an energy justice perspective of fuel poverty: Household vulnerability and domestic retrofit policy in the United Kingdom Energy Research and Social Science p53-61.

Thomson, H., Bouzarovski, S. and Snell, C.J. (2017) Rethinking the measurement of energy poverty in Europe: A critical analysis of indicators and data, Indoor and Built Environment, 26(7), pp.879-901. 

Thomson, H., Snell, C.J. & Bouzarovski, S. (2017) Health, Well-Being and Energy Poverty in Europe: A Comparative Study of 32 European Countries International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14, p. 1-17. 

Swaffield, J. K., Snell, C. J., Tunstall, R. K. & Bradshaw, J. R. (2017) An Evaluation of the Living Wage: Identifying Pathways out of In-work Poverty Social Policy and Society.

Wand, H.R., Snell, C.J. and Liddell, C. (2016) 'Fuel poverty in the European Union: a concept in need of definition?' People, Place & Policy, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp 5-24.

Snell, C.J., Lambie-Mumford, H. & Thomson, H. (2018) Is there evidence of households making a heat or eat trade off in the UK? The Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 26, 2, p. 225-243.

Snell, C.J., Bevan, M., and Thomson, H. (2015) 'Justice, fuel poverty and disabled people in England' Energy Research and Social Science 10: pp 123-132.

Snell, C., Bevan, M., and Thomson, H. (2015) ‘Welfare Reform, Disabled People and Fuel Poverty’: Journal of Poverty and Social Justice. 23: 3, p. 229-244. 

Ford-Thompson, AES, Snell, C, Saunders, G & White, PCL (2015), 'Dimensions of local public attitudes towards invasive species management in protected areas' Wildlife research, vol 42, no. 1, pp. 60-74.

Snell, C. and Brooks-Wilson, S. (2014) Education for sustainable development and welfare reform: a very British case study? In the International Handbook of Environment and Social Policy, Edward Elgar (2014).

Snell, C., and Thomson, H. (2013). 'Reconciling fuel poverty and climate change policy under the Coalition government: Green deal or no deal?' In: Ramia, G. and Farnsworth, K. (eds.) Social Policy Review 25: Analysis and debate in social policy. Bristol: Policy Press.

Thomson, H. and Snell, C. (2013). 'Quantifying the prevalence of fuel poverty across the European Union', Energy Policy, 52, 563-572. Available online.

Brooks-Wilson, S. and Snell, C. (2012). '"Hard to Reach" or "Accessible When Approached"? Sustainable Development Discussions with Marginalized Pupil Groups', Children, Youth and Environments, 22(2), 1-24.

Ford-Thompson, A.E.S., Snell, C.J., Saunders, G. and White, P.C.L. (2012). 'Stakeholder participation in management of invasive vertebrates', Conservation Biology, 26(2), 345-356.

Fenney, D. and Snell, C. (2011). 'Exceptions to the green rule? A literature investigation into the overlaps between the academic and UK policy fields of disability and the environment', Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 16(3), 251-264.

Lovett, J.C. Hards, S., Clancy, J., Snell, C. (2010). 'Multiple Objectives in Biofuels Sustainability Policy', Energy and Environmental Science. DOI:10.1039/C0EE00041H.

Wilson, S. and Snell, C. (2010). 'Bad for the penguins... because they need ice and that to live on’: an exploratory study into the environmental views, concerns and knowledge of socially disadvantaged young people', Journal of Youth Studies, 13(2), 151-168.

Marsden, G., and Snell, C. (2009). ‘The role of indicators, targets and monitoring in decision-support for transport’, European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, 9(3), 219-236.

Snell, C. (2008). 'Climate Change and Climate Change Policy in the UK 2006-2007', Social Policy Review, 20, 69-92.

Cinderby, S., Forrester, J., and Snell, C. (2008). 'Participatory GIS and its application in governance: the examples of air and noise pollution’, Local Environment, 13(4), 309-320.

Forrester, J., and Snell, C. (2007). ‘Planning Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Regeneration: Balancing a visitor-based economy with local needs in the city of York, UK’, Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, 1(1), 69-82.

Hudson, J., Lowe, S., Oscroft, N. and Snell, C. (2006). 'Activating Policy Networks: A Case Study of Local Environmental Policy making in the UK', Policy Studies, 28(1), 55-70.

Marsden, G., Kelly, C., and Snell, C. (2006). 'Selecting Indicators for Strategic Performance Management', Transport Research Review, 1956, 21-29. This paper won the Charley V Wootan Award in recognition of a paper of outstanding merit.


Snell, C. and Haq, G. (2014) A Short Guide to Environmental Policy, Policy Press, Bristol.

Book chapters

Snell, C.J. Global Climate Justice in Yeates, N, and Holden, C. (eds) (2022) Understanding Global Social Policy, 3rd Edition, Bristol: The Policy Press.

Snell, C.J. and Nordennsvärd, J. (2016) 'Domestic Energy Efficiency and Fuel Poverty in England'. In: Nordennsvärd, J. (ed), The Social Challenges and Opportunities of Low Carbon Development. Routledge.

Snell, C., and Brooks-Wilson, S. (2014). 'Education for Sustainable Development and Welfare reform: a very British case study?' in Fitzpatrick, T. (ed) The International Handbook of Environment and Social Policy. Edward Elgar.

Forrester, J., Hicks, K., Kuylenstierna, J., Simon, J., Snell, C., Chadwick, M. J., Schwela, D., and Emberson, L. (2011) 'Governance of Air Quality and Stakeholder Engagement: Lessons and Experiences from International Cases'. In: Lidskog, R. and Sundqvist, G. (2011) Governing the Air: The Dynamics of Science, Policy and Citizen Interaction. MIT Press, Massachusetts.

White, P.C.L., Ford-Thompson, A.E.S., Snell, C.J. and Harris, S. (2011) 'Economic, environmental and social dimensions of alien vertebrate species in Britain'. In: Pimentel, D. (ed.) Biological Invasions: Economic and Environmental Costs of Alien Plan, Animal and Microbe Species, 2nd edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Snell, C. and Quinn, C. (2011) 'International Development and Global Poverty' in Fitzpatrick, T. (ed) Understanding the Environment and Social Policy. Policy Press, Bristol.

Recent research reports

Yeates, N., Holden, C., Lambin, R., Snell, C. J., Idris, N. & MacKinder, S., 1 Oct 2023, A global fund for social protection: Lessons from the diverse experiences of global health, agriculture and climate funds, International Labour Organisation, 85 p.

Barnes, A. J. E., Snell, C. J., Bailey, A., Loopstra, R., Cheetham, M., Morris, S., Power, M., Davies, H., Scott, M., Taylor-Robinson, D. & Pickett, K., 26 Jan 2023, APPG Child of the North - Child Poverty and the Cost of Living Crisis. A report prepared for the APPG Child of the North, Northern Health Sciences Alliance. 32 p.

Kennedy, K. & Snell, C.J. December 2021, How can Supermarkets help end food insecurity? Final report. UKRI, ESRC. How can Supermarkets help end food insecurity? Final report (PDF , 1,191kb).

Kennedy, K. & Snell, C.J. 2021, Relationships Between Supermarkets and Food Charities in Reducing Food Insecurity. Infographic. Co-op, UKRI, ESRC. Food Insecurity Infographic (PDF , 12,302kb).

Snell, C.J., Bevan, M.A. & Gillard, R. 11 December 2018, Policy Pathways to Justice in Energy Efficiency, UKERC.

Snell, C.J. & Bevan, M.A. 11 December 2018, Supporting fuel poor disabled people through energy efficiency measures: Practitioner guide by UKERC, University of York and Disability Rights UK, UKERC.

Snell, C.J. & Bevan, M.A. 11 December 2018, Supporting fuel poor families through energy efficiency measures: Practitioner guide by UKERC, University of York and The Children’s Society, UKERC.

Swaffield, J.K., Snell, C.J., Bradshaw, J.R. & Tunstall, R.K. December 2016, Identifying sustainable pathways out of in-work poverty: Main report on the ‘Working Life in York’ survey: ESRC Knowledge Exchange Scheme ES/L002086/1, Commissioned Report for JRF/JRHT, CYC & YSJU, 184 p.

Lambie-Mumford, H., Snell, C.J. & Dowler, E. July 2015, Heat or Eat: Food and Austerity in Rural England Final Report, Communities and Culture Network+, 77 p (Working Papers of the Communities & Culture Network+).  

Snell, C., Bevan, M. and Thomson, H. (2014). Fuel Poverty and Disabled People: the impact of policy change (research summary for eaga charitable trust). Snell, Bevan and Thomson - EAGA Fuel Poverty and Disabled People (PDF , 176kb).

Thomson, H., Snell, C., and Bevan, M. (2013). Fuel Poverty and Disability: a statistical analysis of the English Housing Survey Deliverable 1 (a report funded by eaga charitable trust).


I coordinate two modules:

  • Environmental Justice, Harm, and Policy (3rd year Undergraduate)
  • Victimisation and Social Harm (2nd year Undergraduate)














Contact details

Professor Carolyn Snell
Professor of Social Policy Chair of the Board of Examiners
School for Business and Society

Tel: 01904 32 1249

I do my best to respond to emails but there may be delays during busy times.