Areas of Expertise: Consumption and change
Sarah carries out interdisciplinary research on sustainability and society, with particular interests in creative practices, everyday life, and institutional change.
Sarah's past work has explored narratives of how sustainable practices evolve across the life-course; the role of sensory experience in energy-related practices; how ‘non-energy’ policies steer energy demand; and how sustainability is governed in public sector institutions. Having also worked in the NGO sector, Sarah takes a cross-sectoral, impact-driven approach to research on social and environmental challenges.
Sarah completed a PhD in Social Policy at the University of York (2007-2011), with a thesis exploring individuals’ life-stories about climate change action. She was seconded to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in 2010 to write a briefing on “Climate Change: Engagement and Behaviour”. In 2015 Sarah joined the DEMAND centre (Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand) as a Research Fellow, investigating how non-energy policies shape energy use.
Sarah joined the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) in May 2019 to help bring expertise from the Social Sciences and Humanities into European energy policy-making. She currently works on the project ‘Environmental Impacts of Digital Services for Health and Wellbeing in the Home’, leading a work package on Environmental Impacts of eHealth.
Sarah also co-ordinates the GSI’s cluster on Creative Practices and Sustainability, and is currently working (with Lara Houston, and colleagues in the Cambridge School of Creative Industries) on a programme called “Sustainability Stories”, which explores the intersections of creative writing and environmental research. She is keen to build links with creative practitioners and researchers in this field.
Sarah is happy to hear from potential PhD researchers in the social sciences whose theoretical and methodological interests align with those above. Particular topics of focus include:
Royston, S., Foulds, F., Pasqualino, R. and Jones, A. (2023) Masters of the machinery: The politics of economic modelling within European Union energy policy, Energy Policy, 173, 113386.
Greene, M. and Royston, S. (2021) Can people talk about their past practices? Challenges, opportunities, and practical applications of biographic inquiry for geographic research on consumption . Area, 00, 1– 12.
Royston, S. and Foulds, C. (2021) The making of energy evidence: How exclusions of Social Sciences and Humanities are reproduced (and what researchers can do about it). Energy Research & Social Science, 77, 102084.
Royston, S., Selby, J., and Kesidou, S. (2020) Governing energy in organisations: Energy management professionals, marginalised practices, and the limits to change. Environmental Policy and Governance 1–16.
Cox, E., Royston, S., and Selby, J. (2019) From exports to exercise: how non-energy policies affect energy systems. Energy Research and Social Science.
Royston, S. and Selby, J. (2019) Non-Energy Policy, in “Energy Fables: Challenging Ideas in the Energy Sector”, edited by Jenny Rinkinen, Elizabeth Shove and Jacopo Torriti.
Wadud, Z., Royston, S. and Selby, J. (2019) Modelling energy demand from higher education institutions: A case study of the UK. Applied Energy 233, 23, p816-826.
Royston, S., Selby, J. and Shove, E. (2018) Invisible energy policies: A new agenda for energy demand reduction. Energy Policy 123, p127-135.
Royston, S. (2022) “’Masters of the machinery’: The politics of economic modelling within European energy policy, Energy and Climate Transformations: 3rd International Conference on Energy Research & Social Science, Manchester, 23 June.
Royston, S. (2019) “Findings from the Energy-SHIFTS project”, ENERGISE Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 15 October.
Royston, S. (2019) “In Search of Invisible Energy Policy”, part of the In Search of 'Good' Energy Policy Research Networks Series, University of Cambridge. 29 January.
Royston, S. (2018) "The search for invisible energy policy", CENSES conference "Clean Energy for All", Oslo, Norway, 22 November.
Royston, S. (2017) "Changing consumption", invited presentation to the public, and panel debate, organised by the Wellcome Trust, at the Wellcome Collection, 15 June.