Dr Debbie Hopkins
  • Research Fellow in Low Carbon Mobility and Energy Demand
  • Junior Research Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford


Debbie Hopkins joined the Transport Studies Unit in February 2016 to work with Dr Tim Schwanen and the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand. Prior to this, Debbie was a Research Fellow on the Energy Cultures II research programme at the Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago (New Zealand). She also held a postdoctoral position with the Otago Climate Change Network (2014), and was an associate investigator on the Built Environment and Active Transport to School project (2013-2016, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Otago). Debbie completed her PhD entitled The Social Phenomenon of Climate Change in December 2013, and holds a master's degree from the Department of Geography, King's College London (2009, cum laude).

Current Research

Debbie is an environmental social scientist and human geographer, with research expertise in socio-spatial interpretations and experiences of environmental issues. Her research is broadly concerned with the social dimensions of climate change, and this is informed by two interrelated research directions:

  • The social practice of mobilities and low-carbon mobility transitions. Empirical research includes investigations of urban freight, generational mobility trends, virtual mobilities, collaborative consumption, and academic mobilities.
  • Socially and locally determined perceptions of weather, climate and climate change, risk perceptions, representations of climate change, and frames of vulnerability.

At TSU, Debbie will be working with Dr Schwanen on a project related to the RCUK funded Research Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (2013-2018) examining the energy implications of smart mobility and the role(s) of autonomous vehicles in a low-carbon transition.


Debbie has previously taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses on research method, environment & society, energy, transport & mobility, and climate change.

At Oxford, Debbie will be acting course director for the TSU's short course Oxford Leadership Programme: Global Challenges in Transport and module leader for the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development on the transport and sustainability module (April 2016 - March 2017).


Debbie is currently involved in a number of outreach projects, including:

  • Sustainability columnist for the Otago Daily Times (New Zealand), with a monthly column on transport, mobilities and sustainability topics
  • Science advisory board member for the Freiburg workshop on 'Desirable Transport Futures', Freiburg, Germany 28th June - 1st July 2016
  • Climate change expert for the New Zealand Science Media Centre
  • ECR Representative for the RGS-IBG Transport Geography Research Group

Debbie has previously contributed to city council and national government policy workshops (e.g. the advisory/ technical group, Te Ao Turoa - Dunedin's draft Environment Strategy, Dunedin City Council) as well as being selected to sit on a number of national committees (e.g. New Zealand Royal Society Early Career Researcher Forum Founding Committee Member).



Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • Hopkins, D. and Markowitz, E. (forthcoming) Geographies of climate change: Country location, nationality and beliefs. In, Nisbet, M.C., Schafer, M., Markowitz, E., Ho, S., O'Neill, S. and Thaker, J. (eds.) The Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Change Communication. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
  • Hopkins, D. and Mandic, S. (2017) Purposeful leisure mobilities: reframing the walk to school. In, Hall, C.M., Ram, Y. and Shoval, N. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Walking Studies: Leisure, Travel and Wellbeing. Routledge, London. 488 pp. ISBN: 978-1-13-819534-9.
  • Higham, J.E.S. and Hopkins, D. (2014) Wildlife viewing: ďCall it consumption!Ē. Chapter 22 in, Gossling, S., Scott, D. and Hall, M. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Sustainability. Routledge, London.
  • Hopkins, D. and Becken, S. (2014) Socio-cultural resilience. Chapter 39 in, Hall, M., Williams, A. and Lew, A. (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Tourism. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-1-118-47448-8.
  • Hopkins, D. and Higham, J.E.S. (2012) Framework conventions for climate change: An analysis of global framework conventions with reference to resource governance and environmental management approaches in New Zealand. Chapter 22 in, Holden, A. and Fennell, D. (eds.) A Handbook of Tourism and the Environment. Routledge, London. pp. 227-240.


Book Reviews

  • Hopkins, D. (2016) Book review of: Viry, G., and Kaufmann, V. High Mobility in Europe: Work and Personal Life. Journal of Transport Geography, 56: 1-2.
  • Hopkins, D. (2016) Book review of: Cidell, J. and Prytherch, D. Transport, Mobility, and the Production of Urban Space. Geographical Research, 54(1): 108-110.
  • Hopkins, D. (2013) Book review of: Becken, S. and Hay, J. Climate Change and Tourism: From Policy to Practice. New Zealand Geographer, 69: 167-173.

Selected media Coverage