Matthew Cotton

  • My research and teaching interests lie in the social and ethical dimensions of environmental policy and planning. In particular I’m concerned with the role of public and stakeholder participation in environmental planning decisions, energy policy analysis and the governance of technological risk. Mostly my research has focussed on planning processes for major infrastructure projects in the energy sector, encompassing nuclear power, shale gas, onshore wind, electricity transmission and distribution systems, and radioactive waste management. I have a particular interest in the development of novel deliberative tools and techniques to facilitate public and stakeholder participation in planning decisions. I am also proficient in qualitative analysis of interview and focus group data, and the use of Q-methodology a combined quantitative-qualitative approach.


    Employment and education experience

    2013-2016 Lecturer, Environmental Policy and Planning, University of Sheffield

    2011-2013 Lecturer, Sustainability, University of Leeds

    2008-2011 Associate Research Fellow, Universities of Manchester and Exeter


    PhD (2009) Environmental Science, University of East Anglia

    MSc (2004) Social Research Methods, University of Teesside

    BA (2003) International Studies and Political Science, University of Birmingham


    Recent relevant publications (since 2014)

    ·         Cotton (forthcoming) Nuclear waste politics: An incrementalist perspective (Routledge)

    ·         Cotton, M. (2016) Fair fracking? Ethics and environmental justice in United Kingdom shale gas policy and planning. Local Environment. DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2016.1186613

    ·         Renzi, B., Cotton, M., Napolitano, G., Barkemeyer, R. (2016) Rebirth, devastation and sickness: analyzing the role of metaphor in media discourse of nuclear power. Environmental Communication: DOI:10.1080/17524032.2016.1157506.

    ·         Cotton, M. (2015) Stakeholder perspectives on shale gas fracking: a Q-method study of environmental discourses. Environment and Planning A 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.

    ·         Cotton, M., Rattle, I., and Van Alstine, J. (2014) Shale gas policy in the United Kingdom: an argumentative discourse analysisEnergy Policy 73: 427–438

    ·         Cotton, M. (2014) Ethics and Technology Assessment: A Participatory Approach (Springer, Berlin)


    Recent grants (since 2014)

    ·         Histories of Nuclear Energy and Society (HoNESt), Euratom Nuclear Fission Research Program, €3,052,269 (CoI, October 2015-September 2018).

    ·         Acting Together Against Climate Change (ATACC) PhD training Network, Grantham Institute for Sustainable Futures and University of Sheffield Future 2022 programme (PI, 3x fully funded 4-year studentships, 2015-2019).

    ·         Risk, Resilience and Responsibility in Public-Private Partnerships in the Green Economy Network, funded by the Grantham Institute for Sustainable Futures, Carbon Plus Capital and the University of Sheffield Researcher Enterprise and Innovation Fund (CI, 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”- ¥700,000/£4,550 (PI, May 2015-July 2016).

    ·         Infrastructure and planning, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, led by Dr Aidan While – £42,837 (CI, September 2014-May 2015).




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