Professor Neil Ravenscroft


As Deputy Vice-Chancellor, my role is to provide guidance and leadership in the development of UK and international partnerships and collaborations, in teaching, research and knowledge exchange. As part of this role I am Executive Dean of the RAU Joint Institute for Advanced Agri-Technology at Qingdao Agricultural University, while I also serve on the Vice Chancellor’s Executive Group at the RAU, as well as chairing a number of committees related to our international programmes and collaborations. Outside the University, I have recently held positions including elected executive membership of the UK Council for Graduate Education and membership of the UK Committee for the UNESCO Man & Biosphere Programme. I am also a Visiting International Expert at Fudan University, China, where I research farming in China’s urban periphery and the growth in interest in community supported agriculture. As a result of this work I have been appointed as an advisor to the China Community Supported Agriculture Alliance. I have a more practical interest in community supported agriculture in the UK, as a member and past Director of Tablehurst Community Farm in East Sussex.

The foundation of my research interests lies in economic questions about the multiple relationships that people have with each other and with the natural and physical environment. At the core of this are questions about the extent to which economic concepts such as wealth, individual utility and exchange can adequately capture the complexities of such relationships. In recent work funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), for example, I have examined the case for moving away from the conventional economic focus on the individual as the unit of assessment to a more systemic conceptualisation of humans as social beings where values and utility are formed through shared and deliberative processes. Not only does this challenge the efficacy of market-based resource allocation, but it also suggests that conventional understandings of economic efficiency may actually be counter-productive to achieving sustained – and sustainable – societies.

At the core of this research problem is the question of how rights to exploit resources are allocated. Most research on the allocation of land and natural resources has concentrated on the governance of rights, in the belief that there is a causal relationship between robust governance systems and the protection of rights. However, my research has suggested that the opposite is the case and that the exploitation of rights, and thus of people and the environment, is facilitated by the unequal power relations implicit in the operation of such governance systems. Examples of this exist all over the globe, whether in terms of the marketisation of European and African commons, or the liberalisation of collective property regimes elsewhere.


Research interests


Recent publications

  • English Wetlands. Spaces of nature, culture, imagination (Palgrave, 2020, with M. Gearey and A Church)
  • Responsibility-driven collective action in the context of rapid rural depopulation. Journal of Rural Studies 75: 48-56.  (with P. Liu, Y. Zhou & M. Harder, 2020)
  • Du, Y., Ravenscroft, N., Wang, Y. and Liu, P. (2019) Governance, gender and the appropriation of natural resources: a case study of ‘left-behind’ women’s collective action in China. Society and Natural Resources DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2018.1556757
  • Gearey, M., Ravenscroft, N., & Church, A. (2019). From the hydrosocial to the hydrocitizen: water, place and subjectivity within emergent urban wetlands. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
  • Ravenscroft, N. (2018) A new normative economics for the formation of shared values. Sustainability Science DOI: 10.1007/s11625-018-0652-4.
  • Ding, D., Liu, P. and Ravenscroft, N. (2018) The new urban agricultural geography of Shanghai. Geoforum 90: 74-83.
  • Finnie, K., Wiseman, T. and Ravenscroft, N. (2018) Rambling on: exploring the complexity of walking as a meaningful activity. Pp 253-263 in Hall, C.M., Ram, Y. and Shoval, N. (eds) The Routledge international handbook of walking. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.
  • Liu, P. and Ravenscroft, N. (2017) Collective action in implementing top-down land policy: the case of Chengdu, China. Land Use Policy 65: 45-52.
  • Liu, P., Gilchrist, P., Taylor, B. and Ravenscroft, N. (2017) The spaces and times of community farming. Agriculture and Human Values 34: 363-375. DOI 10.1007/s10460-016-9717-0.
  • Liu, P., Ravenscroft, N., Harder, M.K. and Dai, X. (2016) The knowledge cultures of changing farming practices in a water town of the Southern Yangtze Valley, China. Agriculture and Human Values 33(2): 291-304. DOI 10.1007/s10460-015-9607-x.
  • Liu, P. and Ravenscroft, N. (2016) Collective action in China’s recent collective forestry property rights reform. Land Use Policy 59: 402-411.
  • Irvine, K.A., O’Brien, L., Ravenscroft, N., Cooper, N., Everard, M., Fazey, I., Reed, M.S. and Kenter, J.O. (2016) Ecosystem services and the idea of shared values. Ecosystem Services 21: 184-193
  • Kenter, J.O., Bryce, R., Christie, M., Cooper, N., Hockley, N., Irvine, K.N., Fazey, I., O’Brien, L., Orchard-Webb, J., Ravenscroft, N., Raymond, C., Reed, M.S., Tett, P. and Watson, V. (2016) Shared values and deliberative valuation: future directions. Ecosystem Services 21: 358-371
  • Church, A., Mitchell, R., Ravenscroft, N. and Stapleton, L. (2015) ‘Growing your own’: a multi-level modelling approach to understanding personal food growing trends and motivations in Europe. Ecological Economics 110 (2015) 71-80.
  • Kenter, J.O., O'Brien, L., Hockley, N., Ravenscroft, N., Fazey, I., Irvine, K.N., Reed, M.S., Christie, M., Brady, E., Bryce, R., Church, A., Cooper, N., Davies, A., Evely, A., Everard, M., Fish, R., Fisher, J.A., Jobstvogt, N., Molloy, C., Orchard-Webb, J., Ranger, S., Ryan, M., Watson, V. & Williams, S. (2015) What are shared and social values of ecosystems? Ecological Economics 111 (2015) 86–99. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.01.006
  • Gilchrist, P., Holmes, C., Lee, A., Moore, N. and Ravenscroft, N. (2015) Co-designing nonhierarchical community arts research: the collaborative stories spiral. Qualitative Research Journal 15(4): 459-471.
  • Church, A., Fish, R., Ravenscroft, N. and Stapleton, L. (2015) Cultural ecosystem services, water, and aquatic environments. Pp 148-155 in Martin-Ortega, J., Ferrier, R.C., Gordon, I.J. and Khan, S. (eds) Water ecosystem services: a global perspective. Paris & Cambridge: UNESCO and Cambridge University Press.
  • Ravenscroft, N. (2014) Securing land for farmers. The Land 15: 39-42.
  • Stapleton, L., Hanna, P., Ravenscroft, N. and Church, A. (2014) A flexible ecosystem services proto-typology based on public opinion. Ecological Economics 106 (2014) 83-90.
  • Moore, N., Church, A., Gabb, J., Holmes, C., Lee, A. and Ravenscroft, N. (2014) Growing intimate privatepublics: everyday utopia in the naturecultures of a young lesbian and bisexual women’s allotment. Feminist Theory 15(3): 327-343.
  • Kenter, J.O., Reed, M. S., Everard, M., Irvine, K.N., O'Brien, E., Molloy, C., Bryce, R., Brady, E., Christie, M., Church, A., Collins, T., Cooper, N., Davies, A., Evely, A., Fazey, I., Goto, R., Hockley, N., Jobstvogt, N., Orchard-Webb, J., Ravenscroft, N., Ryan, M., Watson, V. (2014) Shared, plural and cultural values: a handbook for decision-makers. UK National Ecosystem Assessment follow-on phase. Cambridge: UNEP-WCMC.
  • Ravenscroft, N., Moore, N., Welch, E. and Hanney, R. (2013) Beyond agriculture: the counter-hegemony of community farming. Agriculture and Human Values 30(4): 629-639. DOI: 10.1007/s10460-013-9437-7
  • Ravenscroft, N., Church, A., Gilchrist, P. and Heys, B. (2013) Property ownership, resource use, and the ‘gift of nature’. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31: 451-466.
  • Ravenscroft, N., Church, A. and Parker, G. (2012) Whose land is it anyway? Deconstructing the nature of rights and their regulation. Pp 234-257 in Certoma, C., Clewer, N. And Elsey, D. (eds) The politics of space and place. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Ravenscroft, N., Moore, N., Welch, E. and Church, A. (2012) Connecting communities through food: the theoretical foundations of community supported agriculture in the UK. Working Paper No. 115. CRESC Working Paper Series. Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change, Open University and University of Manchester.
  • Ravenscroft, N. and Church, A. (2011) The attitudes of recreational user representatives to pollution reduction and the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive. Land Use Policy 28: 167-174.
  • Gilchrist, P. and Ravenscroft, N. (2011) Paddling, property and piracy: the politics of canoeing in England and Wales. Sport in Society 14(2): 175-192.
  • Madgwick, D. and Ravenscroft, N. (2011) What’s local? Access to fresh food for older people. Local Economy 26(2): 108-121.
  • Church, A. and Ravenscroft, N. (2011) Politics, research and the natural environment: the lifeworlds of water-based sport and recreation in Wales. Leisure Studies 30(4): 387-405.
  • Ravenscroft, N. (2010) ‘The mythologies of environmental economics’. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events 2(2): 129-143.
  • Foss, C., Morris, D., Burnside, N. and Ravenscroft, N. (2010) Champagne comes to England: assessing the potential of GIS in the identification of prime vineyard sites in South East England. Findings in Built and Rural Environments (FiBRESeries). London: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
  • Ravenscroft, N. and Taylor, B. (2009) Public engagement in new productivism. pp 213-232 in Winter, M. and Lobley, M. (eds) What is land for? The food, fuel and climate change debate. London: Earthscan.