Dr. Mary Greene

B.A., M.Sc.

Contact Details

Lecturer In Human Geography, Co-Director of MA Environment, Society and Development
Geography
111
Block T
Distillery Road
NUI Galway

T: +353 (0)91 493391
M: +353 (0)85 7318953
E: mary.greene@nuigalway.ie
 
researcher

Biography

I am a Lecturer in Human Geography and co-director of the MA in Environment, Society and Development in the Discipline of Geography at NUI Galway. I'm an experienced researcher and lecturer specialising in the social-scientific study of society-environment relations and sustainability. 

Specialising in the study of the intersections between societal and environmental change, my research forms part a rapidly growing and increasingly significant field of social scientific inquiry. My research interests lie in cross fertilising social and environmental geography to explore intersecting social, cultural and political dimensions of environmental change and development in the following thematic areas: sustainable consumption and lifestyles; environmental citizenship; sustainable communities and grassroots innovations; social and environmental justice, urban and rural governance in developed and developing world contexts; environmental policy and planning; sociotechnical transitions and innovations; and innovative research methods for applied social science and sustainability research. To this end, my work can be situated at the interface between human geography, sociology, social psychology, lifecourse studies, planning, environmental policy and science and technology studies. 

Research Interests

My extant research interests focus on understanding social and cultural dimensions of environmental change and society-environment interactions in the following thematic areas: energy use and everyday life; sustainable consumption and lifestyles; environmental education; social movements and sustainable communities; governance; environmental policy and planning; sociotechnical transitions and innovations; and innovative research methods for governance and sustainability research. To this end, my work can be situated at the interface between human geography, environmental sociology, social psychology, environmental policy and science and technology studies.  
My recent and ongoing research has specialised in the social-scientific study of sustainability and environmental change at various intersecting scales, from individuals to communities and wider macro contexts. I have conducted several research studies through which I have gained experience with numerous methods and forms of analysis. Methods with which I am experienced include surveys, interviews, focus groups, ethnography, diaries, biographic-lifecourse research, social movement analysis, discourse analysis and participatory action-based research. I also have experience with quantitative research and an understanding of statistics behind important social science significance testing (e.g. correlation, regression, factor and cluster analysis etc.). 

Recent and ongoing research

Energy Biographies: Exploring the intersections between lives, practices and contexts

Contextualised approaches to understanding how and why patterns of domestic energy demand change over biographical time remain underrepresented in consumption research. My PhD research study - ‘Energy Biographies: Exploring the intersections between lives, practices and contexts’ – seeks to address this lacuna by exploring the inter-relationships between socio, cultural and technological change and the evolution of environmentally significant social practices (such as food and mobility) in peoples’ everyday lives. In doing so, it situates these dynamics biographically to investigate how and why routine energy practices change over peoples’ life-courses within a changing societal landscape. A novel reconstructive-biographic methodology was applied in order to advance a holistic, contextual and experiential means of analysing patterns and processes shaping energy practices that have hitherto been overlooked by deductive or temporally limited research designs. The findings of my study reveal that individuals’ practice is shaped and constrained by context. Energy practices are strongly patterned according to institutional roles and commitments, with variance in modes of performance observed according to life-course circumstances, in particular, gender, age, employment status, and parenthood. The processes shaping dynamics in energy practices are complex, operating at a range of interacting scales, from an individual’s emergence through gendered life-courses, to the broader socio-technical and political-economic structures that frame this process. The thesis concludes that these findings have important implications for policy, suggesting sustainable consumption requires a much more fundamental challenge to social contexts than is recognised by current individualised and consumer-orientated approaches. To date, I have published a number of outputs from this study, including a book chapter, thinking notes, and a journal paper. Further, I have drafted the plans for three more papers emerging from this work which I intend to write and publish over the coming year.  

Microcosms of Sustainability: A critical geographical analysis of the Transition Town Movement
Moving beyond the scale of individuals and household consumption, other recent research has focused analytical attention on environmental change processes occurring in community contexts. To this end, I have conducted research on social movements for sustainability as well as environmental education in school contexts. Focusing on social movement analysis, I designed and implemented a participatory-action research study to examine the role of community sustainability initiatives in promoting sustainable lifestyles in London. Concentrating on the Transition Town Movement, I examined how this movement has become a site of innovation for sustainable consumption, and how green niches, such as the Transition Town Movement, can potentially influence the wider community in the transition towards a lower carbon future. The research provided key insights into the social and cultural processes implicated in sustainable community initiatives, and sought to address the socio-cultural lacuna in environmental policy which is currently overwhelmingly preoccupied with economic and technological solutions to the sustainability crisis.

Children's Conception of Environment
Another important meso-level setting for environmental governance comprises schools and educational institutions. Environmental education is a strategy of paramount importance in attaining environmental improvement and schools provide a crucial context in which young people can be enlisted in sustainable practices. In a study exploring environmental education in school contexts, I investigated primary school children’s developing conceptions of environment-society relations through a creative methodology involving expression through artwork and focus group discussions. Conclusively I argued that a deeper appreciation of the heterogeneity of children’s environmental conceptions has implications for how environmental education should be formulated at the policy level and implemented at the micro level of educational experience. 

Peer Reviewed Journals

  Year Publication
(2016) 'Moving across the life course: the potential of a biographic approach to researching dynamics of everyday mobility practices'
Greene, M. and Rau, H. (2016) 'Moving across the life course: the potential of a biographic approach to researching dynamics of everyday mobility practices'. Journal Of Consumer Culture, [Details]

Book Chapters

  Year Publication
(2017) 'Paths, projects and careers of domestic practice: Exploring dynamics of demand over biographical time'
Greene, M. (2017) 'Paths, projects and careers of domestic practice: Exploring dynamics of demand over biographical time' In: Demanding energy: spaces, temporalities and change. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers Ltd. [Details]
(2014) 'Time and Practice'
Blue, S., Greene, M., Morosanu, R. (2014) (2014) 'Time and Practice' In: Practices, the Built Environment and Sustainability: A Thinking Note Collection. Cambridg, UK: GSI, DIST, BSA. [Details]
(2014) 'Exploring the relationship between narrative and practice'
Greene,M. and Westerhoff, L. (2014) 'Exploring the relationship between narrative and practice' In: Practices, the Built Environment and Sustainability: A Thinking Note Collection. Cambridge, UK: GSI, DIST, BSA. [Details]

Honours and Awards

  Year Title Awarding Body
2017 Ryan Institute Travel Grant Ryan Institute
2015 College of Arts Travel Grant, NUI Galway (value €500) College of Arts, NUI Galway
2015 Geographical Society of Ireland Travel Grant (value €250) Geographical Society of Ireland
2013 Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship (value: c €70,000) Irish Research Council
2012 Hardiman Research Scholarship, NUI Galway (value c. €20,000) College of Arts, NUI Galway
2007 Bursary Scholarship, NUI Galway (value €250) NUI Galway
2007 Geography Student of the Year Award Discipline of Geography, NUI Galway
2007 Best Undergraduate Dissertation Award (Geography, NUI Galway) Discipline of Geography, NUI Galway

Professional Associations

  Association Function From / To
BSA Climate Change group Member 01-SEP-14 /
Geographical Society of Ireland Postgraduate Representative 01-SEP-14 /
Royal Geographical Society Postgraduate Forum Secretary 01-SEP-14 /
Royal Geographical Society Postgraduate Forum PGF ACTS coordinator 02-SEP-13 / 01-SEP-14
Geographical Society of Ireland Early Career and Postgraduate Researchers Network Chair and founder 03-APR-17 /
Academic Council, NUI Galway Postgraduate representative 01-SEP-14 / 01-SEP-15
Supporting Women in Geography Committee, Ireland Member at large 08-MAY-17 /
Planning & Environment Research Group, Royal Geographical Society Membership Officer 01-SEP-15 /
Practices, the Built Environment & Sustainability Research Network Member 01-SEP-14 /

Reviews

  Journal Role
Area Reviewer
Local Environment Reviewer

Teaching Interests

I am currently co-director of the Masters in Environment, Society and Development. My teaching interests include graduate and undergraduate teaching (both large- and small-group teaching) addressing human geographical themes relating to the social scientific study of the environment and sustainability, including: culture-nature relations, globalisation and global-local relations, environmental knowledges and environmentalism, governance, environmental policy and planning processes, sustainable development, stakeholder analysis, public participation, social theory and methods for sustainability and human geographical research. Furthermore, as a broad-based Geography, I have knowledge and experience teaching a wide range of themes in human geography focusing on critical geographical theory, practice and methods in the sub disciplines of social, cultural, development, environmental and political geographies. 


Teaching experience


Masters Teaching, MA Environment, Society & Development (MA ESD):
I am currently co-director and coordinator of the MA ESD program (~ 8-12 students enrolled) where my duties entail module coordination, administration and design and delivery of key modules. Module on which I play a coordinating and teaching role include:

TI 707             Field Based Learning (2015/16, 2016/17, 2017-18)
TI 706             Environment, risk and resilience (2017-18)
TI 702             Geography and Geo-graphing     (2017-18)
TI 703             Geopolitics and Security               (2017-18)
 

Undergraduate Teaching:

TI 150           Principles of Human Geography (2017-18, ~300 students enrolled)


TI366              Environmental Planning Research dissertation: Academic supervisor to undergraduate students researching       themes relating to environmental and cultural geography. Research themes include: sustainable consumption and production; rural sustainability, creative use of urban space (2016/17, 17 research students)

TI 236             Environmental Planning, seminar tutor (2015-16, 2016-17, ~120 students enrolled)


TI 343            Geographies of Sustainable Consumption, seminar tutor (2013-14, ~140 students enrolled)

TI 335             Research Project Design and Development, lecturer (2015-16, 2016-17, ~ 300 students enrolled)


TI 212             Geography Theory and Practice, lecturer (2016-17, ~ 300 students enrolled)

Modules Taught

  Term/Year Module Title Module Code Subject / Desc
Semester 1, 2017-18 Geography and Geo-graphing TI702
2015-16, 2016-17 Environmental Planning, Principles and Processes TI236
2013-14 Geographies of Sustainable Consumption TI343
2016-17 Environmental Planning Research Dissertation TI366 academic supervisor for 17 research students. Research themes include: sustainable consumption and production; rural sustainability; creative use of urban space
2015-16, 2016-17 Research Project Design and Development TI335
Semester 2, 2017-18 Field-based learning TI706
Semester 2, 2017-18 Environment, Risk and Resilience TI704