Dr Melanie Rohse

Senior Research Fellow

Global Sustainability Institute

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Consumption and change , Global Risk and Resilience

Research Supervision:Yes

Mel researches people’s everyday experiences and perceptions of environmental change, specifically in the energy and water sectors. Her work explores personal and collective narratives of transition and resilience (including any barriers to those) in the context of sustainable energy and water consumption. With a wealth of experience working on interdisciplinary projects, she is interested in mechanisms that allow researchers to go beyond disciplinary boundaries.

melanie.rohse@aru.ac.uk

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Background

Mel joined the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) in February 2018. At the GSI, she works on a range of project across the Consumption & Change and Global Risk & Resilience themes.

Mel completed a PhD in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in 2014, entitled ‘Negotiating individual and collective narratives in a contested urban space’. The thesis explored the dynamics of narrative production and contestation within individuals’ stories and the collective stories of the communities in which they live. She was then a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, where she furthered her work on narratives by applying it to a range of environmental challenges in the energy and water sectors (see projects ‘Stories of Change’ and ‘CreativeDrought’ below).

At the GSI, Mel is working on several new projects that further her interests in everyday experiences of energy and water scarcity, people and low carbon transition, and emotions, affect and energy geographies. She is also working on developing new projects on community energy projects and energy justice; user engagement with new energy technologies; and resources scarcity and rural livelihoods in the Global South. 

Spoken Languages

English, French

Research interests

Everyday experiences of energy: How do our past and personal experiences of energy shape how we use it in the present? How do people engage with new technologies? What is the role of emotions in an energy transition? What role will community projects play in future energy systems?

Water extremes and resilience: What are people’s everyday experiences of floods and droughts? How do we build local resilience to floods and droughts? How do we critically engage with concepts of resilience, adaptation and transformation? 

Interdisciplinary research: What makes successful interdisciplinary projects? What compromises, if any, are needed in interdisciplinary projects? How do interdisciplinary collaborations start and develop? 

Stories, narratives and co-production: What are the roles of stories in people’s personal and collective experiences of sustainability? How can we use stories to engage the public in conversations about sustainability? How might stories help bridging the gap between the public and policymakers in environmental policy?

Areas of research supervision

Mel is interested in postgraduate and doctoral research supervision, and welcomes enquiries on the themes above, as well as on topics and themes that complement her ongoing work, so don’t hesitate to get in touch. Please include a CV and a few paragraphs outlining your initial idea. 

Current Students:

  • Heidi Mendoza (based at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) (2021-), Anticipating futures: Path (in)dependencies in drought-to-flood risk futures
  • Ruben Weesie (based at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) (2021-), Living with erratic waters – experiences of successive droughts and floods in Kenya
  • 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?'
  • Rebecca Fisher (2018-), 'Exploring the impact of sustainability education using the Eden Project as a case study'

Teaching

Mel contributes to our MSc Sustainability

Qualifications

  • PhD, Peace Studies, University of Bradford, UK
  • MA, Conflict Resolution, University of Bradford, UK
  • Diplome de l’IEP, Sciences Po Toulouse, France

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Co-Editor, Global Sustainability Institute Briefing Note Series
  • Fellow, the Royal Geographical Society with IBG
  • Member, Royal Geographical Society’s Energy Geographies Research Group
  • Member, International Advisory Board, ACME journal
  • Honorary Research Fellow, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham.

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Mel is currently the PI of the project ‘Underground energy on-the-ground’, funded as part of an Open Call by the UKUH consortium. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration with Dr Corinna Abesser (The British Geological Survey) and Dr Stacia Ryder (The University of Exeter) and investigates questions of regulations and community engagements as experienced by operators and communities in and around emerging geothermal energy developments.

Mel is a co-investigator on the NERC funded project Beavers and Socio-ecological Resilience in Inuit Nunangat (BARIN). Led by ARU’s Dr Helen Wheeler, the project aims to examine interlinkages between beaver population change, changes in lakes and streams and fish population and the outcomes for Inuvialuit communities and their wellbeing. The project started in May 2022 and Mel’s role is to co-lead a work package on participatory mapping and oral histories. Team members will work with community members to explore Inuvialuit traditional knowledge on beaver population change, and how this impacts community wellbeing.

Mel is a work package co-lead on the Horizon 2020 project SHARED GREEN DEAL (coordinated by ARU’s Dr Chris Foulds and Dr Rosie Robison), which aims to stimulate shared actions on Green Deal initiatives across Europe, by providing Social Sciences and Humanities tools to support the implementation of 8 EU Green Deal policy areas, at the local and regional level. As part of the project, 24 social experiments will be taking place across Europe to test out and implement innovative action research approaches on six priority Green Deal topics. Mel contributes to overseeing the preparation for the implementation of the social experiments. She also contributes to the work that will target the clean energy priority topic.

Since December 2018, Mel has been a Co-Investigator on the £8m EPSRC-funded ‘EnergyREV’ consortium, which is tasked with delivering the research programme that comes under the ‘Prospering from the Energy Revolution’ theme of the government’s Industrial Strategy. Mel works as part of the ‘User engagement, preferences and behaviour’ work package led by Prof. Patrick Devine-Wright (University of Exeter). The work package looks at tools and methods to investigate user engagement and acceptance of new technologies at the local level. It also includes a longitudinal study of local energy demonstrators.

Mel is currently a Co-Investigator on the UKERC-funded ‘Energy-PIECES’ project with GSI colleagues Dr Chris Foulds (PI), Dr Rosie Robison (CoI) and Felicity Clarke (research support). The project, a collaboration with CSaP, provided opportunities for early-career researchers and helped embed novel Social Sciences and Humanities perspectives in policy-facing organisations through 6-week secondment at partner organisations (BEIS, Practical Action, EDF, Energy Cities, EST). The project ran from September 2018 to September 2019.

Mel was a Co-Investigator on the NERC-funded ‘CONNECT4 water resilience’ project, led by the University of Aberdeen and with colleagues at the University of Birmingham, University of Venda (South Africa), Botswana International University of Science and Technology (Botswana), University Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique) and the Dabane Trust (Zimbabwe). The project investigated the physical and societal factors affecting vulnerability and resilience to drought and floods in 4 countries of the Limpopo River Basin.

Mel was a Researcher Co-Investigator on the NERC/AHRC/ESRC project “CreativeDrought: Creative experiments for building resilience to future drought in Africa” (November 2016 – January 2018). The project was an interdisciplinary collaboration between institutions in the UK, Zimbabwe and South Africa. It aimed to increase drought resilience by combining local indigenous knowledges with scientific methods.

Mel was a postdoctoral researcher in the ‘Everyday Lives’ work package of the AHRC-funded ‘Stories of Change: Exploring energy and community in the past, present and future’ project (April 2014-April 2018). The project aimed to help support lively public and political conversations about energy by looking in a fresh way at its past, present and future. Within the wider project, Everyday Lives was a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the University of South Wales, along with a range of creative partners including Storyworks UK. Everyday lives was located in the South Wales valleys and took the premise that the region is on a journey from fossil fuel production (coal mining) to renewable energy production (onshore wind) to engage with local inhabitants on their everyday experiences of energy in the past, present and future, using narratives methods such as oral history and digital storytelling.

Mel has a keen interest in outreach and public engagement. She was a PhD tutor for the Brilliant Club, an educational charity that works towards widening participation in Higher education from 2013 to 2016. Since joining the GSI, she has hosted a Nuffield Research Placement on community energy project in the UK, and for which her student obtained a CREST Gold award. She continues to look for opportunities to engage students and the wider public in research on energy and sustainability.

Mel is part of a cohort of women working in the energy sector who attended the Energy Pioneers event organised by Green Alliance under their ‘She is Sustainable’ programme. Within this, she is part of a team organising a catalyst debate on ‘how should we share the benefits of the energy transition?’ which will bring together an expert panel to discuss this issue with an audience of policymakers, academics and industry specialists.

Selected recent publications

Walker, C., Devine-Wright, P., Rohse, M., Gooding, L., Devine-Wright, H. and Gupta., R. (2021) What is ‘local’ about Smart Local Energy Systems? Emerging stakeholder geographies of decentralised energy in the United Kingdom. Energy Research and Social Science, 80, 102182.

Van Loon, A.F., Lester-Moseley, I., Rohse, M., Jones, P., and Day, R. 2020. Creative practice as a tool to build resilience to natural hazards in the Global South. Geoscience Communication, 3: 453-474. [doi.org/10.5194/gc-3-453-2020]

Rangecroft, S., Rohse, M., Banks, E.W., Day, R., Di Baldassare, G., Frommen, T., Hayashi, Y., Höllermann, B., Lebek, K., Mondino, E., Rusca, M., Wens, M. and Van Loon, A.F. 2020. Guiding principles for hydrologists conducting interdisciplinary research and fieldwork with participants. Hydrological Sciences Journal, DOI: 10.1080/02626667.2020.1852241 

Makaya, E., Rohse, M., Day, R., Vogel, C., Metha, L., McEwen, L., Rangecroft, S., Van Loon, A. 2020. Water governance challenges in rural South Africa: Exploring institutional coordination in drought management. Water Policy, 22: 519-540. [doi.org/10.2166/wp.2020.234]

Rohse, M., Day, R., and Llewellyn, D. 2020. Towards an emotional energy geography: Attending to emotions and affects in a former coal mining community in South Wales, UK. Geoforum,110:136-146 [10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.02.006]

Howarth, C., Kantenbacher, J., Guida, K., Roberts, T. and Rohse, M. 2019. Improving resilience to hot weather in the UK: The role of communication, behaviour and social insights in policy interventions. Environmental Science and Policy, 94: 258- [10.1016/j.envsci.2019.01.008]

Rangecroft, S., Birkinshaw, S., Rohse, M., Day, R., McEwen, L., Makaya, E., Van Loon, A., 2018. Hydrological modelling as a tool for interdisciplinary workshops on future drought. Progress in Physical Geography, 7 April 2018.

Llewellyn, D. H., Rohse, M. (section eds.), 2018. Everyday Lives. In Smith, J., Tyszczuk, R. (eds.), 2018. Energetic: Exploring the past, present and future of energy (Cambridge: Shed). ISBN: 978-0-9557534-5-9. (Open Access) 

Llewellyn, D. H., Rohse, M., Day, R., Fyfe, H., 2017. Evolving energy landscapes in the South Wales Valleys: Exploring community perception and participation. Energy Policy, 108, pp. 818-828.

Smith, J., Butler, R., Day, R., Fyfe, H., Goodbody, A., Llewellyn, D. H., Rohse, M., Smith, B., Tyszczuk, R., Udall, J., Whyte, N., 2017. Gathering around stories: Interdisciplinary experiments in support of energy system transitions. Energy Research and Social Science, 31 (Sp. Iss. Narrative and Storytelling in Energy and Climate Change Research), pp. 284-294. 

Llewellyn, D. H., Rohse, M., Bere, J., Lewis, K., Fyfe, H., 2017. Transforming landscapes and identities in the south Wales valleys. Landscape Research, online first.

Rohse, M., 2013. From a narrative understanding of conflict to a narrative resolution of conflict: the challenges of storytelling in conflict transformation. In Rohse, M, Infanti, J. J., Sabnani, N., Nivargi, M. (eds.), 2013. The many facets of storytelling: Global reflections on narrative complexity (Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press). ISBN: 978-1-84888-166-2.

Recent presentations and conferences

Rohse, M., Day, R., Llewellyn, D. (2018) Emotions in an energy system: the case of a South Wales former mining village. 4th Energy and Society conference in Exeter, 03-05 September. 

Rohse, M., Day, R., McEwen, L., Rangecroft, S., and Van Loon, A. (2018) Community perceptions of and preparation to drought: an interdisciplinary case study in rural South Africa. Oral presentation, EGU 2018, Vienna, 08-13 April.

Rohse, M., Day, R., Van Loon, A., Rangecroft, S. (2017) Interdisciplinarity in drought research: Experimenting with combining narratives and modelling. RGS-IBG annual conference, London, 30 August-1 September. 

Rohse, M., Day, R. and Llewellyn, D. (2016) Co-creating stories of energy, place and everyday lives in South Wales, UK. Paper accepted and to be presented at the 3rd Energy and Society Conference in Leipzig, 12-14 September.

Rohse, M., Day, R. and Llewellyn, D. (2016) Energy and everyday life: using story-based methods to explore society-energy relations. Interdisciplinary Methodologies: Across Scales and Cultures ESRC Workshop, University of Birmingham, 7 June 2016.

Co-organised a double session with Dr Rosie Day at the RGS-IBG annual conference in Exeter, 2-4 Sept. 2015: “Individual and collective imaginaries of energy: Storying energy in the past, present and future”, Sponsored by the Energy Geographies Research Group

Media experience

Mel has a keen interest in outreach and public engagement. She was a PhD tutor for the Brilliant Club, an educational charity that works towards widening participation in Higher Education from 2013 to 2016. Since joining the GSI, she has hosted a Nuffield Research Placement on community energy project in the UK, and for which her student obtained a CREST Gold award. She continues to look for opportunities to engage students and the wider public in research on energy and sustainability.  

Mel is part of a cohort of women working in the energy sector who attended the Energy Pioneers event organised by Green Alliance under their ‘She is Sustainable’ programme. Within this, she is part of a team organising a catalyst debate on ‘how should we share the benefits of the energy transition?’ which will bring together an expert panel to discuss this issue with an audience of policymakers, academics and industry specialists.