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Centre for Research into Sustainability

Centre for Research into Sustainability

The Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS) is a multidisciplinary, international group of researchers and educators at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. We are actively engaged with the understanding of social/ethical, economic and environmental sustainability in contemporary society.

We understand sustainability in broad terms as relating to economic, social/ethical and environmental perspectives. We do this through research, teaching, and collaboration with external organisations. Our goal is to advance scholarship and to contribute to positive social and environmental change.

Our purpose, ultimately, is to advance scholarship and contribute to positive social change in terms of the contemporary challenges of poverty alleviation, social injustice and climate change.   

We hold regular seminar series and external speaker events. Please check under the tab below to find details of our upcoming events. 

To keep up to date with all our latest news please follow our LinkedIn page. 

Dr. Susan O'Leary - Co-Director 

Susan's research interests primarily relate to the use of accounting and accountability practices within non-governmental organisations (NGOs). She is particularly interested in the monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment tools used within NGOs, and how they are used to derive outcomes as diverse as accountability to financial donors to the fulfilment of social development obligations at a grassroots level. On a broader level, She is also interested in a range of theoretical perspectives that highlight accounting and accountability as a pluralistic and dialogic practice. Her research employs a critical and interdisciplinary style with an emphasis on case-based, qualitative and at times, ethnographic research methods.

Dr. Martina Hutton - Co-Director

Martina's research interests lie at the intersection of transformative consumer research and critical marketing.  More specifically she focuses on consumer poverty, vulnerability and marketplace stress and exclusion. With a PhD in Equality Studies from the internationally renowned UCD School of Social Justice, she is an experienced qualitative PEFT researcher (Participatory, Emancipatory, Feminist, Transformative), actively engaging with community stakeholders and diverse groups of people experiencing economic difficulties and social/material marginalisation [poverty, hunger, post-prison socio-material experiences].

Check out our member’s publications and projects here, or view short videos linked below of some of our members specific areas of research: 

Simon - Social Responsibility and Ethics within Organisations

Milena - Idiosyncratic Deals

Jose - How are Digital Divides and Sustainability Issues related?

Alex - Emergent Consumer Lifestyle in an Era of Uncertainty

 

The Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS) is a multidisciplinary, internationally-leading group of researchers and educators at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. We are world-leading in three research areas, which form the basis of our expertise.

1.  Accounting for Sustainability

This work covers topics of accountability, voluntary corporate reporting, sustainability accounting, and governance.

2.  Responsible Consumption

This work covers topics of ethical consumption, marketing ethics, sharing and alternative economies. 

3.  Responsible Business

This work covers the evolution of corporate social responsibility and social and environmental sustainability, equality, diversity and inclusion, governance, lobbying, and alternative forms of organizational responsibility, including NGOS, SMEs and cooperatives.

In addition, our current cross-cutting critical agendas are:

Gender and Social Change

Keywords: Gender, masculinities, feminism, family roles, gendered commodity chains, representation of women in advertising.

Global Impact Chains

Keywords: Supply chains, value chains, environmental and social sustainability, developing country contexts, migration, immigration.

Precarious work and Modern Slavery

Keywords: Precarity, bonded labour, trafficking, stakeholder voice, regulation, inclusion and diversity, impacts of COVID-19.

Alternative Economies

Keywords: Subcultures, alternative living, sharing economy, anti-capitalism, afri-capitalism, social movements, digital nomads.

 

PhDs with CRIS

We are actively seeking high quality PhD students to work with CRIS members on sustainability-related topics. Please see individual staff research pages for an indication of their key interests and contact us directly to discuss further. General information on applying to study a research degree at Royal Holloway can be found here.

Partnerships and Collaborations

We work alongside a number of businesses, NGOs, research centres and universities. For more idea of our research collaboration, please see the NGOS, Business and Policymakers tab. 

CRIS Members - Management - CRIS Page

Our members come primarily from the School of Business and Management and the Department of Geography. CRIS works alongside the Sustainability, Responsibility & Ethics group in the School of Business and Management and the Politics, Development & Sustainability group in the Department of Geography, as well as collaborating with other colleagues from around the College.

Core members

Our core members can be found here

 

Academic visitors within the 'Distinguished Scholar' programme

Prof. Andy Crane (2014)

Prof. Jan Bebbington (2015)

Prof. Ralph Hamman (2016)

Prof. Mette Morsing (2016)

Prof. Joseph Sarkis (2017)

Prof. Michelle Greenwood (2019)

Dr Oana Branzei (2020)

Prof. Sankar Sen (2021)

Prof. Judy Brown (2023)

 

The Centre for Research into Sustainability is a multinational and interdisciplinary research-based group with a wealth of knowledge and experience on organisational responses to sustainability challenges. With expertise in sustainability relating to accounting, supply chains and logistics, corporate social responsibility and business ethics as well as environmental issues, it is a privilege for us to work in partnership with other organisations. We have experience working with small and medium sized enterprises, social enterprises, multinational corporations and the public sector. Our work is always rooted in our internationally renowned scholarship. Examples of our work include:

Case Study 1: Consumer Perspectives on Modern Slavery

It is estimated that up to 1,243,400 people are modern slaves across Europe, working in industries such as domestic work, agriculture, restaurants/food service, and the sex trade. Within the UK, the introduction of the “Modern Slavery Act” in 2015 has been a key step in fighting contemporary slavery. However, the act explicitly relies on “consumers and civil society” for its enforcement. Consumers are assumed to monitor modern slavery statements and reward/penalise companies accordingly (e.g., Nolan and Bott, 2018), an expectation that has been unprecedented in terms of UK legislation.  Meanwhile there is a surprising lack of consumer research and there is no governmental body set to enforce compliance with the act.

Emerging research by Professor Andreas Chatzidakis, alongside Professor Deidre Shaw (University of Glasgow) and Dr Michal Carrington (University of Melbourne) on consumer understandings and responses to modern slavery addresses this gap by both exploring and influencing consumer attitudes and behaviour. Being the first of its kind in the UK, it aims at impacting upon business best practices, media campaigns by governmental actors and NGO initiatives.

The research has been part-funded by the British Academy/Leverhume Small Research Grants scheme (£9,700) and has been already presented to a variety of key business, NGOs and governmental stakeholders.

Case Study 2: Re-Fashioned

From September 2020, CRIS members Katherine Brickell and Lauren McCarthy, alongside Sabina Lawreniuk (The University of Nottingham) and the Cambodia Development Research Institute are leading original longitudinal research to track and amplify the experiences of over 200 women garment workers in Cambodia through the pandemic. The ReFashioned Project, funded by GCRF/UKRI , is documenting and learning from women’s efforts to navigate the financial repercussions of COVID-19 on their home lives and livelihoods across different phases of the pandemic, from the immediate crisis to its aftermath. The project is working with fashion brands, the Cambodian government and local unions to generate ideas on how to ‘stitch back better’ the Cambodian garment industry.

Case Study 3: Scale Matters: Scalability of Business Case Sustainability Initiatives in the Garment Industry

CRIS member Chika Oka, alongside Niklas Egels-Zandén (University of Gothenburg), Shahidur Rahman (BRAC University) and Rachel Alexander (LSE) report on why social and environmental sustainability initiatives designed to incentivise garment producers by presenting win-win business cases have not scaled up to make widespread impact. Commissioned by the Laude Foundation (formerly the C&A Foundation), they interviewed representatives from garment brands and retailers, producers, and programme implementers. Their report scrutinises the design of business case sustainability initiatives, considers various scaling challenges, and presents recommendations to help scale these initiatives as well as to make greater impact on sustainability in the global garment industry.

Case Study 4: Towards Democratic and Sustainable Business: Possibilities for Corporate Governance Reform

CRIS member Chris Rees and David Offenbach (Simons Muirhead & Burton LLP) worked with Labour Business to produce a report discussing potential policy reforms relating to shareholders, directors, and employees, as well as broader issues of regulation and enforcement. As Covid-19 has shown, governments in the future will have to accept a more active role in the economy. In this context, the regulatory framework for corporate governance will need to be adapted to support economic growth and encourage responsible business practices. Their new report for Labour Business provides a route for how the Labour Party in office might begin to bring this about.

Case Study 5: Improving small business social responsibility

CRIS member Laura Spence is the leading voice on social responsibility in small and medium sized enterprises, most recently providing a report commissioned by the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour. Her British Academy funded project on ‘Combatting modern slavery through business leadership at the bottom of the supply chain’, alongside Andrew Crane, Vivek Soundararajan, Michael Bloomfield (Bath University) and Genevieve LeBaron (University of Sheffield) built a dialogue with UK government representatives in India where the research will fit into a wider discussion on modern slavery.

All of our undergraduate management courses include a foundation for Sustainable Business and we are working towards sustainability being embedded across the curriculum. We also offer a flagship course, MSc Sustainability & Management, which is taught jointly by the School of Business and Management and the Department of Geography.

 

Principles of Responsible Management Education

The School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, has been a signatory of the United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education since 2008.

Wicked Fringe: Complex societal and environmental problems examined from the edge

Date: 21st June 9.30-3.30, followed by a closing reception. 
Location: Herringham Room, Founders Building, Royal Holloway University, Egham Hill, Egham, TW10 OEX

Many contemporary social problems are increasingly characterized as 'wicked' confronting societal actors and institutional regimes with complex challenges. Examples are plentiful, including climate change, refugees, deprived populations and loss of biodiversity.  At the Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS), our annual Wicked Fringe calls attention to these social purpose issues to explore how such problems are not only globally significant but are embedded and addressed at a local level. Join us for a thought-provoking exploration of topics that push boundaries and challenge conventional thinking. 

Registration for the event is here

 

Speakers include

Andrea Mora (Breaking Barriers) 

Refugee Crisis in Focus

The past decade has seen unprecedented levels of forced migration throughout the world. These trends are set to only intensify which is what makes developing effective and humane models of integration for refugees so critical. This discussion will explore the current models of refugee integration presently practised in the UK, shedding light on some of the challenges and potential areas of promise in these approaches in dealing with the growing scaled of forced migration globally.  Having completed his Masters in Human Rights Law, Andres did a clinical legal placement providing pro bono legal aid to asylum seekers looking to secure their refugee status. Since then, Andres has worked in the refugee sector for over 10 years in a range of refugee integration projects in the UK and abroad, including most recently the Homes for Ukraine initiative. He is passionate about the development of humane and effective models of integration for the coming decades of forced migration.

Raeeka Yassaie (Parents for Future) 

Strengthening the connective tissue between our movements: How can we truly work together in our efforts to make the world a safer place for us all? 

How can we truly work together in our efforts to make the world a safer place for us all? What does a free Iran have to do with a free Palestine? How does all of it relate to the climate crisis, or disability rights? How can we make truly collective care and liberation irresistible? These are questions Raeeka will ask and offer answers to, with an invitation to seek out the connective tissue between our movements and strengthen them like our lives depend on it. Because they do. Raeeka (they/she) is a British-Iranian social and climate justice activist. They work for Parents For Future UK, a group focused on empowering parents and carers into the climate movement. Raeeka is also are on the Stop Rosebank campaigns team, working to stop new oil and gas fields in the UK. Raeeka amplifies the feminist revolution of their Iranian siblings in the fight for a free Iran. They have a special interest in making our movements truly intersectional.

James Cronin (Lancaster Management School) 

On the Political Economy of Single-Use Plastics: Insights from the PPiPL Project

James is a Professor in Consumer Culture Studies with the Department of Marketing at Lancaster University Management School and Director of the LUMS Centre for Consumption Insights. His principal research focuses on the social and cultural aspects of consumer behaviour including collective and symbolic forms of consumption, marketplace ideologies, consumer escapism, and the cultural politics of marketing. He is also interested in consumer health & well-being, food cultures, and the parasocial relationships that consumers forge with celebrity brands. Much of his current research activities focus on how social structures, ideologies, and interactions between people shape and ground their consumption experiences.

Jenni Cole (Royal Holloway) 

Mapping antimicrobial resistance through the food chain: challenges of animal sourced food and climate change

Climate change is having a profound effect on food systems. Impacted crop yields have severe economic consequences and also drive farmers from plant-based agriculture to more resilient livestock rearing but, as animal-sourced food has a much higher environmental footprint, this creates a vicious circle of environmental damage. A key issue within this is the use of antibiotics to control animal disease in poor hygiene and welfare conditions, which in turn drives antibiotic resistance, with huge impacts on human health. ---- Jenni is a biological anthropologist interested in how humans influence and adapt to changing environmental conditions, particularly in the context of the human-induced changes of the Anthropocene.

 

Schedule

9:00am Opening session

9:30am Presentations 

12:00pm Lunch 

1:00pm Presentations 

2:30pm Roundtable session

 

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