Dr Debbie Hopkins
  • Associate Professor in Human Geography


Debbie is an Associate Professor in Human Geography jointly appointed between the School of Geography and the Environment, and the Sustainable Urban Development programme. She completed her master's degree (Geography, with distinction) at King's College London in 2010, PhD at the University of Otago (New Zealand) in December 2013, and postdoctoral training at the Centre for Sustainability (Otago, New Zealand, 2014-2016), and the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford (2016-2017). Debbie was previously a Departmental Research Lecturer jointly appointed between the Transport Studies Unit and the School of Geography and the Environment (Oxford, 2017-2019). Debbie is the Associate Editor (Transport and Mobilities) of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, and between 2017-2019 undertaking an academic secondment (part-time) with the New Zealand Ministry of Transport.

Debbie has been part of several large research centres and grant applications, including the Energy Cultures project (2013-2016, Otago), the Centre for Innovation and Energy Demand (2016-2018, Sussex, Manchester and Oxford), and the Centre for Research on Energy Demand Solutions (2019-2020, multi-institutional). In addition to this, Debbie leads research on low-carbon transitions, labour and mobilities, largely in relation to freight/trucking and waste. Debbie has co-edited two books: Low Carbon Mobility Transitions (GoodFellow Publishers, 2016) and Transitions in Energy Efficiency and Demand (Routledge (Open Access), 2018).

Debbie sits on the advisory board of the Oxford Climate Society, is an international advisory board member of the DRIVERS project (led by Prof Marianne Ryghaug, Norweigan Research Council, 2019-2024), In 2019, Debbie is studying for the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at the University of Oxford.

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, goods and 'waste', with a focus on cities and urban environments. Debbie is currently working on a number of 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)
  • Dissensus and the energy implications of automated technologies (Digital Society theme, Centre for Research on Energy Demand Solutions, 2019-2020).
  • 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)


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, and on the Energy module for the Environmental Change and Management masters programme. For 2019/20, Debbie will be providing an elective on ‘geographies of waste’.

Debbie also teaches on the Department of Continuing Education MSc Sustainable Urban Development modules 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 lectures for the Oxford School of Climate Change, hosted by the Oxford Climate Society, and often speaks to other groups within and beyond Oxford.


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) Experimentation with vehicle automation. In, Jenkins, K.E.H. and Hopkins, D. (eds.) Transitions in Energy Efficiency and Demand: The Emergence, Diffusion and Impact of Low-Carbon Innovation. Routledge, Abingdon. pp. 72-93. ISBN: 9780815356783.
  • 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