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Matthew joined the Department of Environment and Geography in September 2016, first as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, having previously held lecturing positions in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, and the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, and postdoctoral research positions at Exeter University and Manchester University.
His research interests lie in the social and ethical dimensions of environmental management and technology governance. In particular, he researches the environmental justice dimensions of environmental policy and planning decisions around energy and waste infrastructure, climate change and natural resource management. He has published research using a range of qualitative and quantitative social research techniques on issues of nuclear power, shale gas extraction, plastic waste, climate adaptation, petrochemicals, onshore wind, electricity transmission and distribution systems, and radioactive waste management.
He is keen to discuss PhD supervision related to projects in the following areas:
Research group leader – People, Place and Planet research group
Chair of the Environment and Geography Ethics Review Committee
Department representative on the University of York Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body
Department representative on the Board of Studies for the MA Social Research Methods
Department representative on the Steering Committee for the YorRobots research group
Recent grant-funded research projects
Harvesting the sun twice: Enhancing livelihoods in East African agricultural communities through innovations in solar energy. ES/T006293/1 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Global Challenges Research Fund: Sustainable energy and international development: beyond technology programme, April 2020 – March 2023 (Workpackage lead and CoI).
Benchmark review of shale gas governance, devolution and localism. Funded by the NERC-UKRI Unconventional Hydrocarbons in the UK Energy System programme: Challenge 1 - Assessing and monitoring the UK shale gas landscape (UKSGL) project. July 2019-February 2020.
A political-economic analysis of electricity grid access histories and futures in Mozambique (POLARIZE), Applied Research Programme on Energy and Economic Growth (EEG), funded by UK Aid, Department for International Development (PI co-led with Dr Joshua Kirshner, University of York, February 2018- February 2020), with partner organisations Centre for Research on Governance and Development (CPGD), Obervatorio do Meio Rural (OMR) and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM)
A qualitative analysis of marine plastic management policy, funded by the University of York Environment Department pump priming fund (PI, March-September 2018)
Public engagement and opportunities for shared infrastructure in the UK, White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership Collaborative Award, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Ove Arup and Partners. Led by Dr James Van Alstine, University of Leeds. Competitive fully funded 1+3 studentship (CoI/Co-supervisor, funding awarded January 2018)
Governing gas in the context of sustainable energy transitions, funded by the Thomas Krauss pump priming fund. (PI, May-July 2017).
Workshop to develop research proposals related to sustainable wellbeing and the UN Sustainable Development Goals Funded by the Centre For Future Health and Wellcome Trust – Partnership Award Fund. Academic led by Prof. Kate Pickett, University of York (CoI April-May 2017).
Participation@Large Digital Media for Empowering Large-Scale Farmer and Citizen Participation in AgriFood Research and Policy-Making, funded by the N8 AgriFood pump priming fund, led by Dr Sabastian Deterding, - (CoI, March 2017-September 2017).
Histories of Nuclear Energy and Society (HoNESt), Horizon 2020/Euratom Nuclear Fission Research Program, led by Dr Albert Presas i Puig, Universitat Pompeu Fabra – (York lead CoI, work package co-lead on engagement futures, management committee member, October 2015-February 2019).
Acting Together Against Climate Change (ATACC) PhD training Network, co-funded by the Grantham Institute for Sustainable Futures and University of Sheffield Future 2022 programme (co-PI alongside Dr Tom Goodfellow and Dr Holly Lawford-Smith, 3x fully funded 4-year studentships, 2015-2019).
Risk, Resilience and Responsibility in Public-Private Partnerships in the Green Economy Network, co-funded by the Grantham Institute for Sustainable Futures, Environmental NGO: Carbon Plus Capital, and the University of Sheffield Researcher Enterprise and Innovation Fund (Co-I, 3x fully funded 4-year studentships October 2015-2019).
Exploring public moral values of intergenerational environmental justice. Toyota Foundation Research Grant Programme “Exploring New Values for Society”- (PI, May 2015-July 2016).
Infrastructure and planning research programme funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, led by Dr Aidan While (CoI, September 2014-May 2015).
Programme of Research on Preparedness, Adaptation and Risk (PREPARE) project, funded by Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Consortium bid led by AEA Ricardo with Ipsos Mori and the University of Leeds, project number ERG1211; academic lead - Prof. Suraje Dessai, University of Leeds (CoI and Workpackage lead, September 2012 - May 2013).
Engaging communities on the social and ethical aspects of radioactive waste and nuclear site decommissioning. Funded by the RCUK Roberts Fund for public engagement with research and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Radioactive Waste Management Directorate - (Principal investigator, September 2006-September 2007).
Key publications during the 2014-2020 REF cycle
Whitton, J., Cotton, M., Brasier, K., Charnley-Parry (eds.) (2018) Governing Shale Gas: Development, Citizen Participation and Decision Making in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe (Routledge, London).
Cotton, M. (2017) Nuclear Waste Politics: An Incrementalist Perspective. Routledge Studies in Waste Management and Policy (Routledge, London).
Cotton, M. (2014) Ethics and Technology Assessment: A Participatory Approach. Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics, SAPERE vol.13 (Springer-Nature, Berlin).
Cotton, M., Barkemeyer, R., Renzi, B., Napolitano, G., (2019) Fracking and metaphor: analyzing newspaper discourse in the USA, Australia and the United Kingdom. Ecological Economics 166 (December): Article 106426.
McNicholas, G., Cotton, M. (2019) Stakeholder perceptions of marine plastic waste management in the United Kingdom. Ecological Economics 163: 77-87.
Cotton, M., and Stevens, E. (2019) Mapping discourses of climate adaptation in the United Kingdom. Weather, Climate, and Society 11(1): 17-32.
Cotton, M. (2018) Environmental justice as scalar parity: lessons from nuclear waste management. Social Justice Research 31(3): 238-259.
McNally, H., Howley, P., Cotton, M. (2018) Public perceptions of shale gas in the UK: framing effects and decision heuristics. Energy, Ecology and Environment 3(6): 305-316.
Cotton, M., Charnley-Parry, I. (2018) Beyond opposition and acceptance: examining public perceptions of the environmental and health impacts of unconventional oil and gas extraction. Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health 3: 8-13.
Ghoochani, O., Bakshi, A., Ghanian, M. Cotton, M. (2017) Analyzing stakeholder water source preference based upon social capital: a case study of the Fajr Jam Gas Refinery in Iran. Water Conservation Science and Engineering 2(4): 109-120.
Cotton, M. (2017) Fair fracking? Ethics and environmental justice in United Kingdom shale gas policy and planning. Local Environment 22(2): 185-202.
Renzi, B., Cotton, M., Napolitano, G., Barkemeyer, R. (2017) Rebirth, devastation and sickness: analyzing the role of metaphor in media discourse of nuclear power. Environmental Communication 11(5): 624-640.
Whitton, J., Brasier, K., Parry, I., Cotton, M. (2017) The development of shale gas governance in the United Kingdom and United States: opportunities for public participation and implications for social justice. Energy Research & Social Science 26: 11-22.
Cotton, M. and Marhoos Alsaiari, A. (2015) Key actor perspectives on stakeholder engagement in Omani EIA: an application of Q-methodology. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 58(1): 91-112.
Cotton, M. (2015) Stakeholder perspectives on shale gas fracking: a Q-method study of environmental discourses. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 47(9): 1944-1962.
Cotton, M. (2015) Structure, agency and post-Fukushima nuclear policy: an Alliance-Context-Actantiality model of political change. Journal of Risk Research 18(3): 317-332.
Ghoochani, O., Bakhshi, A., Cotton, M., Nejad, A.H., and Ghanian, M. (2015) Environmental values in the petrochemical industry: A Q-method study in South West Iran. Environmental & Socio-economic Studies 3(4): 1-10.
Cotton, M., Rattle, I., and Van Alstine, J. (2014) Shale gas policy in the United Kingdom: an argumentative discourse analysis. Energy Policy 73: 427–438.
Cotton, M. (2014) Environmental justice challenges in UK infrastructure planning: lessons from a Welsh incinerator project. Environmental Justice 7(2): 39-44.
Cotton, M. (2020) Nuclear power and environmental justice – the case for political equality, in Kaiser, A., Lehtonen, M., Meyer, J-H., and Rubio, M. (eds) Engaging the atom: The History of Nuclear Energy and Society in Europe from the 1950s to the Present Day. Energy and Society Series (Morgantown, West Virginia University Press).
Cotton, M. (2019) Planning, infrastructure and low carbon energy, in Davoudi, S., Blanco, H., Cowell, R. and White, I. (eds.) Companion to Environmental Planning and Sustainability (Routledge, Abingdon): 248-256.
Whitton, J., Cotton, M., Brasier, K., Charnley-Parry, (2018) Introduction: The governance of unconventional oil and gas, in Whitton, J., Cotton, M., Braisier, K. and Charnley-Parry, I. (eds.) (2018) Governing Shale Gas: Governing Shale Gas: Development, Citizen Participation and Decision Making in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe (Routledge Earthscan, Abingdon): 19-38.
Devine-Wright, P., and Cotton, M. (2017) Experiencing citizen deliberation over energy infrastructure siting: a mixed method evaluative study, in Bouzarovski, S., Pasqualetti, M. and Castan Broto, V. (eds.) Research Companion to Energy Geographies (Routledge, Abingdon): 184-199.
Cotton, M. (2014) Ethical Matrix and Agriculture in Thompson, B., and Kaplan, D. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics (Springer Nature, Berlin).
Reports and policy briefs
Cotton, M., Kirshner, J., and Salite, D. (2019) The political economy of electricity access – lessons from Mozambique. Energy Insights Series. Applied Research Programme on Energy and Economic Growth (EEG), (Oxford Policy Management, Oxford).
Cotton, M. (2019) Engagement futures for nuclear energy in Europe. (HoNESt Policy Brief II, European Commission, Brussels).
Mayer, J-H., Cotton, M., Rowe, G., Presas Puig, A. (2019) Final dissemination and engagement report (History of Nuclear Energy and Society Report D6.3, European Commission, Brussels).
Cotton, M., Rowe, G., Whitton, J., Konrad, W., Charnley-Parry, I., Meyer, J-H., Espluga, J., Rubio, M., Prades-Lopez, A., Enander, A., Bergmans, A. (2019) Backcasting futures for nuclear energy and society: a qualitative analysis of European stakeholder perspectives (History of Nuclear Energy and Society Report D5.3, European Commission, Brussels).
Charnley-Parry, I., Whitton, J., Cotton, M., Cools, P., Rowe, G., Konrad, W. (2019) Theory of Change: moving towards more effective nuclear engagement and decision-making (History of Nuclear Energy and Society Report D5.2, European Commission, Brussels).
Meyer, J.H., Cotton, M., Rowe, G. (2018) Report on dissemination communication engagement and the database of key stakeholders (European Commission, Brussels for the History of Nuclear Energy and Society Project).
Espluga, J., Medina, B., Konrad, W., Bergmans, A., Charnley-Parry, I., Cotton, M., Enander, A., Meyer, J., Rowe, G., Whitton, J. (2017) Case studies reports: in-depth understanding of the mechanisms for effective interaction with civil society: selected case studies (History of Nuclear Energy and Society report D4.3, European Commission, Brussels).
Parry, I., Whitton, J., Cotton, M., Konrad, W., Prades Lopez, A., Espluga, J., Rowe, G. (2017) Principles of Engagement (History of Nuclear Energy and Society Report D5.1, European Commission, Brussels).
Meyer, J.H., Cotton, M., Charnley-Parry, I., Rowe, G., Presas Puig, A. (2017) Dissemination and Communication Plan and Database of Key Stakeholders (History of Nuclear Energy and Society report D6.1, European Commission, Brussels).
Charnley-Parry, I., Cools P., Whitton, J., Bergmans., Rowe, G., Konrad, W., Meyer, Jan-Henrik., Cotton, M. (2017) Integrated comparative report for in-depth understanding of the mechanisms for effective interactions with civil society (History of Nuclear Energy and Society Report D4.4, European Commission, Brussels).
Meyer, J.H., SPI, Cotton, M., Rowe, G. (2017) Dissemination plan (History of Nuclear Energy and Society report D1.4, European Commission, Brussels).
Meyer, J.H., SPI, Cotton, M. (2017) Report on Dissemination Tools (History of Nuclear Energy and Society report D6.2, European Commission, Brussels).
Parry, I., Whitton, J., Cotton, M., Konrad, W., Prades Lopez, A., Espluga, J., Rowe, G. (2016) Report on the selection of in-depth case studies. (History of Nuclear Energy and Society report D3.5, European Commission, Brussels).
Konrad, W., Espluga, J., Bermans, A., Cotton, M., Enander, A., Meyer, J-H., Rowe, G., Whitton, J. (2016) Comparative cross-country analysis on preliminary identification of key factors underlying public perception and societal engagement with nuclear developments in different national contexts. (History of Nuclear Energy and Society report D5.2, European Commission, Brussels).
Cotton, M. (2016) Exploring public moral values of intergenerational environmental justice. Final report. (Toyota Research Foundation, Tokyo)
Environmental Field Project - Human Geography & Environment; Environment, Economics & Ecology - ENV00023C
Qualitative Approaches to Social Science Research - ENV00026C
Megacities & Urbanisation - ENV00021I
Environmental Policy - From Global to Local - ENV00026I
Environmental Psychology for a Sustainable Society - ENV00031H
Current Research in Human Geography & Environment - ENV00090M
Matthew is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers.