Image: heychli / AdobeStock

Image: heychli / AdobeStock

Academic flying: necessity, motivation and reduction


Transport is responsible for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and and thereby has an important role to play in carbon reduction efforts. Around the world, academic institutions have become aware of their contributions to GHG emissions, seeking to reduce emissions associated with institutional activities. Yet, to date, little action has been taken to systematically monitor or reduce the emissions associated with academic flying. This project will seek to understand the diverse nature of study-, academic- and operational- related travel, and the associated carbon emissions, at a single college at the University of Oxford (UoO). It will contribute to the nascent body of scholarship on academic flying and the necessity of reductions in flying practices by the university sector ('Flyingless'), while also contributing to the development of University policy and practice, working in close partnership with the University of Oxford Sustainability Team.

The COVID-19 pandemic has - albeit potentially for a limited time - shifted practice, and forced the uptake of creative and novel communication tools for academic purposes, thus there is an opportunity to build upon this unplanned adaptation, to understand where change might be possible, and how this can be leveraged upon by the UoO and the Sustainability Team.

Aims and research questions

This project will:

  1. Evaluate the perceived necessity of air travel, and flight purposes which might be considered intrinsic to the University's core functions; and
  2. Uncover ways to incentivise practices of flying less amongst academic and professional staff and domestic/international students and create positive discourse about the benefits of flying less.

Further Information

For more information on this research project please contact Dr Debbie Hopkins.

In brief


May 2020 - Oct 2020


Green Travel Fund (University of Oxford)


The Environmental Sustainability Team (University of Oxford)

Principal Investigator

Dr Debbie Hopkins


Dr Noah Birksted-Breen


Dr Debbie Hopkins