Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Shona Jenkins

Research interests:

I am passionate about linking research to real-world outcomes on topics that intersect natural resource governance, poverty and equity in challenging settings. In my current research, this has led me to explore linkages between ecosystem services, land use and human wellbeing in the context of the central Congo Basin peatlands. I am passionate about enhancing local voices and local knowledge through the use of social science methods and building bridges to connect social science insights with physical science methods and findings. Moreover, I am passionate about building recognition and appreciation for social science methods within the physical sciences. I do this by pushing my own intellectual boundaries, pursuing interdisciplinary research and acting as an effective science communicator.

My previous work across many settings in Africa, including DRC, the focal country of my PhD research, allows me to bring a constructive and grounded eye to my current research and its application to forest policy.

Career history:

2021-ongoing: PhD in Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences
2014-2016: MSc in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences – Lund, Sweden
2007-2011: BSc in Environmental and Agricultural Sciences – McGill University, Montreal, Canada & Holetown, Barbados

I am currently in the third year of my PhD at The University of Edinburgh, UK. My interdisciplinary research investigates the human uses of the world’s largest tropical peat forest, located in the central Congo Basin. More specifically, I combine remote sensing and social science methods to understand how the peatland forest has changed over time and how local livelihood and value systems in communities located along the fringes of this forest in DRC are influencing the peatland forest and its resources. I hold a bachelor’s in environmental and agricultural sciences from McGill University, Canada and a master’s in environmental and sustainability sciences from Lund University, Sweden. One of my unique professional attributes is my varied international experience outside of academia working in settings applying research and theory to real-world sustainable development challenges. I have worked as a development consultant on the water, sanitation and hygiene team at Oxford Policy Management, where much of my work involved researching development intervention effectiveness and engaging with local to national stakeholders. The last evaluation I worked on received an accolade for Best UNICEF Research and Evaluation 2020. Just prior to starting my PhD, I managed and coordinated work supporting social accountability and water stewardship across Africa with Water Witness International. This included supporting the launch of a new portfolio of collaborative work with Ethiopia’s Industrial Parks Development Corporation to integrate water stewardship governance into their standard operating procedures.

Active research projects:

The title of my PhD research is: The human uses of the central Congo Basin peatlands. My research projects sits within a wider research project exploring the past, present and future of the central Congo Basin peatlands, CongoPeat. More information about CongoPeat is available here:

Recent publications:

Nastar, M., Abbas, S., Aponte Rivero, C., Jenkins, S., & Kooy, M. (2018) The emancipatory promise of participatory water governance for the urban poor: Reflections on the transition management approach in the cities of Dodowa, Ghana and Arusha, Tanzania. African Studies, 77(4), 504-525. 10.1080/00020184.2018.1459287

Rau, A., Bickel, M., Rathgens, J., Schroth, T., Weiser, A., Hilser, S., Jenkins, S., McCrory, G., Pfefferle, N., Roitsch, D., Stålhammar, S., Villada, D., Wamsler, C., Krause, T. & von Wehrden, H. (2018). Linking concepts of change and ecosystem services research: A systematic review. Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems, 4(1), 33-45.

Jenkins, S. (2016). Come together, right now, over what? An analysis of the processes of democratization and participatory governance of water and sanitation services in Dodowa, Ghana (Master’s thesis, Lund University, Lund, Sweden). Retrieved from:

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