Dr Debbie Hopkins
  • Department Research Lecturer in Transport Studies


Debbie joined the Transport Studies Unit (TSU) as a Research Fellow in February 2016. In June 2017, Debbie became jointly appointed by the TSU and the School of Geography and the Environment as a Departmental Research Lecturer. Debbie completed her master's degree (with distinction) from King's College London in 2010, and PhD from the University of Otago (New Zealand) in December 2013.

From 2014 to 2016, Debbie was a Research Fellow on the Energy Cultures 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). Debbie is a Research Affiliate of the Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago. Her research is broadly concerned with the social dimensions of climate change, the social practice of mobility, and low-carbon mobility transitions.

Debbie is the Associate Editor (Sustainable Transport & Mobilities) of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism. She is also completing an academic secondment with the New Zealand Ministry of Transport examining current approaches to 'evidence' and 'research' in policymaking, and working to extend these to account for non-traditional knowledges and non-numeric sources of evidence.

Current Research

Debbie is a human geographer and environmental social scientist, interested in socio-spatial interpretations and experiences of environmental issues. Her research is broadly concerned with the social dimensions of climate change, socio-technical transitions, and the mobility of people and goods. Debbie is currently working on a number projects that span these interests (primary projects listed below), many of which include international and interdisciplinary collaborators:

  • Gender, Freight and Automation (Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, 2017-2018, PI)
  • Experimenting with Mobile Methods for Research with Mobile Freight Workers (John Fell OUP Research Fund, 2018-2019, PI)
  • The Energy Implications of Smart and Automated Freight (Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, 2016-2018, AI)
  • Built Environment and Active Transport to School (BEATS) (Health Research Council of New Zealand, Heart Foundation, University of Otago Research Grant, 2013-2018, AI)
  • Academic Mobilities Project (2015-2018, Co-I)

From January 2019, Debbie will be a project researcher with the UK Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) working on the Digital Society theme to investigate the energy implications of automated technologies.


At Oxford, Debbie teaches on the Final Honour School (FHS) and MSc programmes in Geography. She teaches part of the FHS Special Subject course 'Transport and Mobilities' along with Dr Tim Schwanen and Dr Jennie Middleton. Debbie also teaches part of the 'Cities, Mobility and Climate Change' Elective to students across the School's MSc programmes.

Debbie teaches on the Department of Continuing Education MSc Sustainable Urban Development modules 'transport and sustainability' and ' Financing Sustainability', and is involved in the TSU's short-course programme 'Global Challenges in Transport'. Between April 2016 and March 2017, Debbie was the acting course director for the Global Challenges in Transport programme, and module leader for the MSUD transport and sustainability module.

Debbie also provides a lecture on 'Climate Change and Mobility' for the Oxford School of Climate Change, hosted by the Oxford Climate Society.

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


Debbie actively seeks out opportunities for engagement beyond academia. To this end, she has written articles for regional and national newspapers, and contributed to the development of urban and national government policy (e.g. the advisory/ technical group, Te Ao Turoa - Dunedin's draft Environment Strategy, Dunedin City Council). Debbie was a founding committee member of the New Zealand Royal Society Early Career Researcher Forum, and the Otago Climate Change Network, and is a committee member of the RGS-IBG Transport Geography Research Group. Debbie sits on the advisory board for the Oxford School on Climate Change.

From 2017 to 2019, Debbie is undertaking a part-time academic secondment with the New Zealand Ministry of Transport's research and strategy team, working on a number of projects that develop greater collaboration between the academic and policy communities in New Zealand, and integrate up-to-date academic research, and alternative forms of 'evidence' with policy development.



Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • Hopkins, D. (forthcoming) Winter sports resources, climate change and the ironies of sports-related mobilities. Chapter 7 in, Higham, J.E.S. and Hinch, T. (eds.) Sport Tourism Development (Edition 3). Channel View Publications, Clevedon, UK.
  • Hopkins, D. and Higham, J.E.S. (forthcoming) Climate change and tourism. In, Cooper, C., Gartner, B., Scott, N. and Volo, S. (eds.) Sage Handbook of Tourism Management. SAGE, London, UK.
  • Hopkins, D. and Markowitz, E. (forthcoming) Geographies of climate change. 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 Schwanen, T. (2018) Governing the race to automation. In, Marsden, G. and Reardon, L. (eds.) Governance of Smart Mobility. Emerald, Bingley, 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: “Call it consumption!”. 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

Selected media Coverage