Hannah Elizabeth Field

What I’m up to now

I am a PhD researcher at the University of Cumbria, working alongside the Our Common Cause HLF project to study common land in the UK. I am investigating how diverse perspectives of the people in the commons come together within governance and decision-making.

Using an Action Research approach, the multiple knowledge types (farming, practice, ecological, academic, policy) are being taken into account through a bottom-up, participatory approach. The research aims, therefore, to be useful within the realms of science, policy and practice.

I am bringing together insights from commons, commoning, Social Ecological Systems and Ecosystem Services literature to inform and guide the research. See current research outline.

Although my research is focused specifically on common land in England, I am very interested in and passionate about the practice of commoning and how it might be applied in a variety of contexts to support collaborative working and just decision-making.

I am the Coordinator of the Cumbria Inquiry for the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. Within this work, I am also looking at bringing together the diverse perspectives in land-based decision-making to convene collective leadership around implementing some of the place-appropriate recommendations in the Our Future in the Land report.

My story, in short…

I graduated from the University of Cumbria with BSc (Hons) Animal Conservation Science in 2013. My dissertation research was in Costa Rica, comparing understory pollination between primary and secondary rainforest. After graduating, I was Wolf Conservation and Policy Intern for Conservation Northwest in Washington State and worked for a short while with a PhD student studying Grizzly Bear use of human trails in British Columbia.

I then worked for the Forestry Commission, now Forestry England, in Visitor Services (4.5 years) and then as Communications and Marketing Manager (1.5 years). Whilst being employed part time, I started up a small business as an artist and an ecological education tutor. I have worked on a Permaculture Smallholding, growing food, teaching people about horticulture and facilitating workshops in sustainable and regenerative living. I have created and led workshops for children and adults including topics on rewilding, Grey Wolf ecology and conservation, wool crafts (spinning, weaving, felting) and nature connection.

I returned to the University of Cumbria and graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Ecosystem Services Evaluation in 2019. Whilst doing my Masters-level dissertation looking at monitoring landscape change from a cultural perspective, I applied for a funded PhD position at the University.

I started creating my PhD with the University of Cumbria in the Department of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies in October 2019. The research focus is on case studies of common land in the UK and I have a much broader and growing interest in the commons.

I am from Kent originally and have lived in Cumbria for the last 10 years or so. My doings and beings have always been rooted in wildlife, ecosystems and landscapes, whether through gardening, my artwork, fell walking, studies and training, wildlife watching, photography or teaching.

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