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Professor Rosie Robison

Professor of Social Sustainability

Global Sustainability Institute

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Areas of Expertise:
Consumption and change
Research Supervision:

Rosie researches how sustainable lifestyles – the ways we consume energy, food, goods, and travel experiences – fit within society. Her work explores both personal journeys of change towards lower consumption, and policy interventions to facilitate societal-level change. Having led a number of interdisciplinary networks, she looks at how different communities can work together.

[email protected]

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Rosie has been Professor of Social Sustainability at the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) since August 2022. She has led the Consumption & Change research theme at the GSI since 2011. She draws primarily on social science approaches (psychology, science & technology studies, psychosocial studies, human geography), also informed by her technical training in applied mathematics.

She is co-lead of the €5m Horizon 2020 SHARED GREEN DEAL project, (2022-2027) and the €1m Horizon 2020 project Energy-SHIFTS (2019-2021), working closely with the European Commission's energy strategy unit within DG RTD. Energy-SHIFTS has sought to better integrate energy-related social sciences and humanities (SSH) into the policy processes. She previously co-led the high impact €2m Horizon 2020 project SHAPE ENERGYSocial sciences & Humanities for Advancing Policy in European Energy. Her open access SHAPE ENERGY collection 'Advancing Energy Policy', co-edited with Dr Chris Foulds, received over 20k downloads in its first six months. She was also Co-Investigator on the UKERC funded Energy-PIECES project working with early career SSH researchers undertaking secondments within energy policy-related organisations such as BEIS.

She has significant media experience, including appearing on the BBC News Channel to talk about ways to reduce our carbon footprint, contributing to a week-long feature on home energy savings for the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC2, as well as being interviewed for Cambridge TV. She has extensive live radio experience (e.g. BBC Cambridgeshire, BBC Essex, BBC Hereford & Worcestershire); a piece that was particularly picked up was her work with student Victoria Circus on perceptions of more sustainable proteins such as lab-grown meat and insects. 

With a track record in digital sustainability and smart technologies, Rosie was Principal Investigator (2015-2017) of the £193k EPSRC Balance Network, exploring how digital technologies are changing how we live and work. She was also Co-Investigator (2013-2015) of the EPSRC Digital Epiphanies project, researching digital tools to increase reflection and help support self-directed changes in behaviour including web-based tools which allow householders to track their energy use.

An experienced facilitator, Rosie regularly leads interdisciplinary workshop programmes, and has overseen a number of edited collections as outputs from these events (see Publications). Her facilitation approach is informed by psychosocial understandings of group and interpersonal dynamics (cf. the Carbon Conversations course).

Rosie has a strong interest in science communication, and accessibility of research. Before joining Anglia Ruskin, Rosie was an EPSRC-funded fellow at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology where she focused on sustainable travel, and in particular electric vehicles. Rosie carried out her postgraduate (BA, Part III Masters and PhD) research in Applied Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, studying fluid dynamics (from Antarctic ice shelves to fuel-efficient aeroplanes). Whilst a PhD student, Rosie co-founded the Young Researchers in Mathematics conference.

Research interests
  1. Sustainable consumption and policy – why do we use energy, food, water, transport, goods in the ways we do? How do society and (local/national/international) policies co-evolve with consumption patterns?
  2. Consumer change – when and how does personal or societal level change take place? How might new 'smart' digital tools, or therapeutic-inspired interventions (e.g. group work, mindfulness) enable us to consume more sustainably? What are the links between consumption and wellbeing?
  3. Interdisciplinary and cross-sector research – how are different disciplines or communities able to work well together, and understand each other? How can tensions be recognised and navigated?
  4. Science/research communication and participation – how can both the process and outputs of research be better disseminated? How can those impacted by research feed into the design of research questions and methods?
Areas of research supervision
  • Maxine Van Bommel (2020-), 'Ecological grief and identity change' 
  • Tom Hambley (2019-), 'User engagement with renewable energy: what works in theory and what is done in practice?'
  • Stefano Magariello (2018-), 'Inside low carbon energy transition policymaking: local governance imaginaries and practices'
  • Rebecca Fisher (2018-), 'Exploring the impact of sustainability education using the Eden Project as a case study'
  • Emily Judson [University of Exeter, Rosie is an external supervisor] (2018-), ‘Governing UK energy system digitalisation: emerging challenges and institutional responses in the context of Net Zero.’ 
  • Lauren Stabler (2016-2021), ‘Experimenting with methodological advancements to the Transition Management framework: a case study on city-regional housing and future wellbeing’ 
  • Roberto Pasqualino (2016-2020), ‘Economic updates on the limits to growth: the economic risk resources and environment model’ 
  • Sanjay Chaturvedi (2017-2019), 'Innovation Matters: The Case of Water and Sewerage Companies in England and Wales'

Rosie is currently module lead for the 'Working Towards Change' module for the GSI's MSc Sustainability, and has previously led the 'Governance and Behavioural Change' and 'Better Business' modules (both in collaboration with the eden project). She guest lectures on ARU courses such as the MSc in Consumer Psychology, and Sustainable Technologies Master's module. She has acted as external marker/examiner/supervisor for the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, the University of Cambridge Master's on Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment, and UCL's Interaction Centre. She regularly hosts undergraduate and Nuffield sixth-form student research placements. She has previously supervised a number of University of Cambridge mathematics undergraduate courses.

  • PhD Fluid Dynamics, University of Cambridge
  • MMath (Part III), University of Cambridge (Distinction)
  • BA Mathematics, University of Cambridge (First class)
  • PGCert, Higher Education, Anglia Ruskin University
Memberships, editorial boards
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Rosie has won grant funding from the EU (Horizon 2020 energy work programme), UK research councils (EPSRC, ESRC), the British Academy and Newton Fund, as well as undertaking consultancy work for a number of organisations.

For a fuller record of all past and current projects, please see the GSI’s Consumption & Change projects page

Selected recent publications
Sustainable consumption, energy policy
  • Mourik, R.M., Sonetti, G. and Robison, R., 2021. The same old story–or not? How storytelling can support inclusive local energy policy. Energy Research & Social Science, 73, p.101940. 
  • Ingeborgrud, L., Heidenreich, S., Ryghaug, M., Skjølsvold, T.M., Foulds, C., Robison, R., Buchmann, K. and Mourik, R., 2020. Expanding the scope and implications of energy research: A guide to key themes and concepts from the Social Sciences and Humanities. Energy Research & Social Science, 63, p.101398. 
  • Lacey-Barnacle, M., Robison, R. and Foulds, C., 2020. Energy justice in the developing world: A review of theoretical frameworks, key research themes and policy implications. Energy for Sustainable Development, 55, pp.122-138. 
  • Søraa, R.A., Anfinsen, M., Foulds, C., Korsnes, M., Lagesen, V., Robison, R. and Ryghaug, M., 2020. Diversifying diversity: Inclusive engagement, intersectionality, and gender identity in a European Social Sciences and Humanities Energy research project. Energy Research & Social Science, 62, p.101380. 
  • Skjølsvold, T.M., Pechancová, V., Judson, E., Robison, R. and Suboticki, I., 2021. Smart consumption: A Social Sciences and Humanities annotated bibliography. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Bharucha, Z., Krupnik, S., Robison, R., Foulds, C., Bode, N., Rudek, T., 2021. Horizon Scanning and Policy Fellowships to embed Social Sciences and Humanities within EU energy research and innovation policy: An Energy-SHIFTS evaluation. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Robison, R., Foulds, C., 2021. Social Sciences and Humanities for the European Green Deal. 10 recommendations from the EU Energy SSH Innovation Forum. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Garrido, I., Lehne, J., Moro, E., Robison, R., and Torres Senés, M., 2021. Shifting the energy debate forward: Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities for Green Deal delivery. Energy-SHIFTS Virtual Final Conference. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Robison, R., Skjølsvold, T.M., Lehne, J., Judson, E., Pechancová, V., Foulds, C., Bilous, L., Büscher, C., Carrus, G., Darby, S., Demirbağ Kaplan, M., Douzou, S., Drevenšek, M., Frantál, B., Guimarães Pereira, A., Hargreaves, T., Karvonen, A., Katzeff, C., Kola-Bezka, M., Laakso, S., Lettmayer, G., March, H., Parag, Y., Renstroem, S., Sáfián, F., Swora, M., Tjørring, L., van der Werff, E., van Vliet, B., Wallenborn, G., Wolsink, M., Wyckmans, A. 2020. 100 Social Sciences and Humanities priority research questions for smart consumption in Horizon Europe. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • de Geus, T., Bode, N., Robison, R., Rohse, M., Foulds, C., Wagner, A., Krupnik, S., Świątkiewicz-Mośny, M., Rudek, T., Kuittinen, H. Lisi, V., Søraa, R., Lunevich, I., Wittmayer, J. 2020. Shifting perspectives: insights from the Energy Policy Fellowships. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • de Geus, T., Lunevich, I., Ibrahim, I., Bode, N. and Robison, R., 2020. Live energy policy challenges: questions for the Social Sciences & Humanities. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Robison, R., Skjølsvold, T.M., Foulds, C., Bharucha, Z.P., 2019. Terms of Reference: Energy-SHIFTS Working Group 2 – Smart Consumption, Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Dufour, E., Lisi, V. and Robison, R. 2019. A guide to the SET-Plan: Including the role of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Dufour, E., Lisi, V. and Robison, R. 2019. A guide to the ETIPs. Including the role of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Robison, R., Foulds, C., 2019. Principles for energy-SSH in Horizon Europe: SHAPE ENERGY Research & Innovation Agenda 2020-2030. Cambridge: SHAPE ENERGY. 
Personal change, self-reflection, wellbeing
  • Robison, R., Van Bommel, M. and Rohse, M., 2022. Relationships between climate mitigation actions and mental health: a systematic review of the research landscape. Frontiers in Climate.
  • Robison, R., 2019. Emotional work as a necessity: a psychosocial analysis of low-carbon energy collaboration stories. In: Hoggett, P., Climate Psychology (pp. 85-106). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. [CG: 1] 
Science communication, scientific process
  • Garrido, I., Torres-Senés, M., Moreno, S., Gómez, G. and Robison, R. 2019. Plan for dissemination, exploitation and communications. Cambridge: Energy-SHIFTS. 
  • Pauly, A., Robison, R., Garzón, O., Foulds, C. and Torres, M. 2019. Beyond SHAPE ENERGY: Final dissemination report on lessons learned and continuing Platform impact. Cambridge: SHAPE ENERGY.
  • Sumpf, P., Büscher, C., Claudot, P., Jeuken, Y., Mnich, C., Mourik, R.M., Ortar, N., and Robison, R., 2018. SHAPE ENERGY Reflexive Review of Interdisciplinary Working. Cambridge: SHAPE ENERGY.
Recent presentations and conferences
  • Robison, R. and Foulds, C., 2017. Perspectives on the social, political and cultural dynamics of energy: Developing a collective agenda for the social sciences and humanities, Paper presentations at the RGS-IBG conference on Decolonising geographical knowledges: opening geography out to the world. 30 August 2017, London, UK.
  • Robison, R. and Foulds, C., 2017. Creating an interdisciplinary energy lexicon: Working with terminology differences in support of better energy policy, Paper presentation at the eceee 2017 Summer Study on Consumption, Efficiency & Limits. 1 June 2017, Presqu'ile de Giens, France.
  • Robison, R., Mourik, R. and Ortar, N., 2017. Shaping energy policy: the good, the bad and the ugly of interdisciplinary energy research. Solutions workshop at the eceee 2017 Summer Study on Consumption, Efficiency & Limits. 30 May 2017, Presqu'ile de Giens, France.
  • Robison, R., 2017. Impact in real research projects. Residential course for Reseach Funding Observatory beginners. 31 March 2017, Cambridge, UK.
  • Foulds, C. and Robison, R., 2017. SHAPE ENERGY scoping workshop: Energy research, social sciences & the humanities: current landscapes and future directions for Europe. 24 February 2017, Cambridge, UK.
  • Robison, R. and Kirk, D., 2017. Digital lives: new ways of working and living interdisciplinary workshop on future research directions. 10 January 2017, Cambridge, UK.
  • Furnham, V., Robison, R., Natalini, D., Vennegoor, M. and Sciabarra, A., 2016. Can scientific research or art really change anything? Panel discussion for Arts Council funded project. 4 August 2016, ONCA gallery, Brighton, UK.
  • Robison, R. and Foulds, C., 2016. Constructing policy feedback on energy feedback: when is feedback 'working'?, Paper presentation at the TEDDINET Energy Feedback Symposium, University of Edinburgh. 4-5 July 2016, Edinburgh, UK.
  • Robison, R. and Kirk, D., 2016. Beyond Balance. Culmination conference of the Balance Network project. 27 June 2016, London, UK.
  • Robison, R., 2016. Balancing Act: academic working in the digital age. British Antarctic Survey Women in Science seminar. 14 June 2016, Cambridge, UK.
  • Robison, R., 2016. The interdisciplinary researcher: belonging everywhere and nowhere. Keynote at Arts + Science: Belonging Symposium. 21 March 2016, Cambridge, UK.
  • Robison, R., Royston, S., Mitchell, T. and Hughes T., 2015. Sustainable Societies: unusual questions, extraordinary answers. ESRC Festival of Social Sciences event. 12 November 2015, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.
  • Foulds, C., Robison, R. and Macrorie, R., 2015. Energy monitoring as a practice: Investigating use of the iMeasure online energy feedback tool. Faculty of Science and Technology Annual Research Conference. 7 July 2015, Chelmsford, UK.    
  • Foulds, C., Robison R. and Macrorie, R., 2015. Energy monitoring as a practice: Investigating use of the iMeasure online energy feedback tool. Presentation at the Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference 2015: Contested Natures – new strategies, ideas and dialogues? 9-11 June 2015, Trondheim, Norway.
  • Robison, R., 2015. It All Adds Up: Celebrating Women across the Mathematical Sciences. Combining Career and Family, panel discussion, University of Oxford, 17 April 2015.
  • Robison, R., 2014. Could feeling less anxious about climate change help us do more? Norah Boyce lecture series. 21 January 2014, University of the Third Age (U3A), Cambridge, UK.
  • Robison, R., 2013. Uncomfortable conversations... why discussing the big issues is so hard. Cambridge Festival of Ideas. 23 October 2013, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.
  • Robison, R., 2013. Personal monitoring of household energy use: who chooses to do it and what impact does it have? 10th Biennial Environmental Psychology conference. 23 September 2013, Magdeburg, Germany.