I was a public sociologist before I knew what it meant! For over 30 years I have combined activism with social analysis and at QMU this has developed with colleagues into our programmes in Public Sociology.
I started as a natural scientist, studying environmental biology at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and graduated with a doctorate from Aberdeen University in Plant Science in 1987. During the 1980s, the People’s Science movement was under attack from the corporations, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was commercialising scientific research. In 1984, the Bhopal gas disaster demonstrated the impact of commercial science on human lives and the environment. After post-doctoral research in the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, I left scientific research and completed an MSc in Community Education. I spent 15 years in community work, adult education and campaigning on environmental, peace and gender issues. For eight years I was Head of Community Action at Friends of the Earth Scotland, where I was involved in developing education and support for local environmental justice activists. I worked as an associate lecturer with the Open University before returning to full time lecturing in sociology at Queen Margaret University.
I have always attempted to integrate research, teaching and community engagement in order to make the resources of the university available to communities and groups struggling for justice. I have conducted research, support and campaigns with the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster and communities opposing fracking; collaborative education with Scottish Women’s Aid and Friends of the Earth Scotland; and consultancy in support of the rights of Palestinians. I am a trade union representative with University and College Union.
Affiliations/Memberships to Other Organisations:
- Elected academic staff member to University Court
- Former-Chair: Friends of the Earth Scotland
- Co-Chair: Bhopal Medical Appeal
- Secretary: Scottish Universities Supporting Palestinian Students
- Membership of the Jimmy Reid Foundation project board
- Vice President: UCU Scotland
- UCU Representative on Just Transition Partnership
Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:
My primary research interest is in learning in social movements, especially around environmental justice, particularly in India, Palestine and Scotland. I also engage with feminist research into gendered violence; environmental sociology; social studies of science; social implications of climate change; adult and popular education; social justice.
Active research interests:
- Environmental justice, popular struggle and community development (co-produced book project).
- Public Sociology Education (co-produced book project).
- Learning in environmental justice campaigns in Scotland.
- The Bhopal survivors’ movement.
- Environmental injustice in occupied Palestine.
- Environmental justice in Nigeria.
- Lifelong Education in the neoliberal university
I draw primarily on the pedagogical methodology of Paulo Freire. My research methods include Participatory, Feminist and Action research; Video-Dialogue, Activist ethnography and Movement-Relevant research; Dialogical processes; Post-Normal Science.
Supervision: PhD and Prof Doc students (Director of Studies)
- Jessica Moyer - Materialism as Morality in the ANWR oil drilling debate: a critical investigation into the reification of science, the marginalization of values, and the power of discourse within environmental conflict Graduated 2014
- Julie Young - Women’s experiences of domestic abuse and alcohol: Same Hell, Different Devils Graduated 2017
- Stan Nwankpa - A post-normal science approach to understanding the real issues, challenges and contexts of municipal solid waste (MSW) management in developing countries – A case study of Aba-urban in Abia State, Nigeria
- Christina McDonagh - Can adaptation to climate change provide an opportunity for gender justice? An exploration of a Kenyan case study
- Elaine Ballantyne - Doing Mad Studies: A Participatory Action Research Project to explore the experiences and impacts of being part of a Mad People's History and Identity course and to explore the relationship between critical education, activism and emancipation
Research Grants & Contracts Funding:
Learning environmental justice in Scotland: from community action to social movement. 2014-16; Principal Investigator. Funder Carnegie Trust
Pollution impacted communities’ resistance: Cuddalore (Tamil Nadu) study 2010-12; Principal Investigator. Funder QMU, Carnegie Trust.
Bhopal Survivors’ Movement Study 2007-09. Principal Investigator. Main Funders: British Academy, Nuffield Foundation, Carnegie Trust
Learning through ICTs in Social Movements 2006-8 Co-Investigator (PI Jim Crowther, Edinburgh University). Funder ESRC RES-000-22-2301
Teaching relevant to social movements and social engagement. Eurig's seminars and lectures focus on Gender justice; Social Justice; Environmental Justice; Participatory Action Research and Public Sociology, amongst other topics.