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Dr Julian Dobson PhD

Senior Research Fellow


Summary

Julian is a Senior Research Fellow in CRESR

About

Julian is a researcher and writer with a broad interest in place and society, and a particular focus on the complex systemic changes required to achieve environmentally and socially just approaches to urban life. His research expertise is in social and economic regeneration, urban greenspace, town and city centres and the role of the voluntary and community sector. He is especially interested in how and why change happens and the role of evidence in shaping policy and practice.

Julian joined CRESR as senior research fellow in 2020. With a previous career in journalism and consultancy before moving into academia, he has given evidence to parliamentary inquiries, written for a wide range of academic and general audiences, and spoken at national and international conferences. He is author of How to Save Our Town Centres (Policy Press, 2015) and was the founding editor of the regeneration magazine New Start. His PhD at CRESR focused on institutional change and sustainability transitions.

Research interests
Place, policy and community: I am interested in urban settlements and how they can be more socially just, sustainable and inclusive. I have recently been involved in projects around the benefits of public urban green spaces, working with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Health Foundation and as part of the  Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature project at the University of Sheffield. I have also supported Sheffield City Council in its bid for funding from the government’s Future High Street Fund.

Institutional and societal change: I am interested in how and why change happens, or fails to happen. My PhD focused on the role of three urban 'anchor institutions' in advancing transitions to a low-carbon society. More widely, I have been interested in the impact of community-based initiatives and the prefigurative politics of small-scale projects.

Evidence, policy and practice: My professional history in journalism, consultancy, and current academic research, bridges the worlds of academia, policy and practice. I am constantly seeking both to understand and to question conventional understandings of how these links work.

Research

  • Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research

Current research projects
Please contact me for further details about these research projects and for summaries of the findings.

2019-22 Future Parks Accelerator evaluation, National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Trust. Role: member of the research team.

2019-22 Evaluation of market development, Power to Change. Role: member of the research team.

2019-20 Public space for public good, evidence review and scoping study, Health Foundation. Role: member of the research team.

2019-20 Parks for People evaluation and evidence review, National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Community Fund. Role: member of the research team.

2019-20 Evaluation of Decent Affordable Homes 2 programme, Nationwide Foundation. Role: member of the research team.

Selected research reports
Dobson, J. (2018) New seeds beneath the snow? Big Local neighbourhoods in action. London: Local Trust.

Dobson, J. and Papworth, R. (2015) Between a rock and a hard place: The work of food banks in Hampshire. Portsmouth: The Bill Sargent Trust.

Dobson, J. and Papworth, R. (2014) The impact of the Hampshire local welfare assistance scheme, 2013-2014. Portsmouth: The Bill Sargent Trust.

Dobson, J. (2013) Responsible Recovery: A social contract for local growth. London: ResPublica.

Dobson, J. (2012) Grey spaces need green places: The case for investing in our nation's natural assets. Birmingham: Groundwork UK.

Dobson, J. (2012) Forces for good: Local benefits from surplus military land. Portsmouth: The Bill Sargent Trust.

Dobson, J. (2011) Community assets: Emerging learning, challenges and questions. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Publications

Journal articles

Dobson, J. (2021). Wellbeing and blue-green space in post-pandemic cities: drivers, debates and departures. Geography compass. http://doi.org/10.1111/gec3.12593

Dempsey, N., & Dobson, J. (2021). Planning for sociable green spaces after COVID-19. Town Planning Review, 92 (2), 171-179. http://doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2020.84

Dobson, J., & Dempsey, N. (2021). Known but not done: how logics of inaction limit the benefits of urban green spaces. Landscape Research, 1-13. http://doi.org/10.1080/01426397.2020.1864819

Dobson, J., Birch, J., Brindley, P., Henneberry, J., McEwan, K., Mears, M., ... Jorgensen, A. (2021). The magic of the mundane: The vulnerable web of connections between urban nature and wellbeing. Cities, 108, 102989. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2020.102989

Richardson, M., Dobson, J., Abson, D.J., Lumber, R., Hunt, A., Young, R., & Moorhouse, B. (2020). Applying the pathways to nature connectedness at a societal scale: a leverage points perspective. Ecosystems and People, 16 (1), 387-401. http://doi.org/10.1080/26395916.2020.1844296

Dobson, J., & Dempsey, N. (2020). Why practice doesn't make perfect. . http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44480-8_1

Dobson, J., & Dempsey, N. (2020). Mind the gap: Does what we know about greenspace and wellbeing change what we do? . http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44480-8_7

Dempsey, N., & Dobson, J. (2020). Realigning knowing and doing: An agenda for reflection and action. . http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44480-8_9

Dobson, J. (2020). A part and yet apart: how third sector visions of carbon reduction are both welcomed and marginalised. Voluntary Sector Review, 11 (2), 187-204. http://doi.org/10.1332/204080519x15756858754217

Dobson, J., & Dempsey, N. (2019). Working out what works: The role of tacit knowledge where urban greenspace research, policy and practice intersect. Sustainability, 11 (18), 5029. http://doi.org/10.3390/su11185029

Dobson, J. (2019). The New Enclosure: The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain. TOWN PLANNING REVIEW, 90 (3), 327-328. http://doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2019.22

Dobson, J. (2018). From contest to context: urban green space and public policy. People, Place and Policy Online, 12 (2), 72-83. http://doi.org/10.3351/ppp.2018.3824435278

Dobson, J. (2018). Reinterpreting urban institutions for sustainability: How epistemic networks shape knowledge and logics. Environmental Science & Policy, 92, 133-140. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2018.11.018

Dobson, J. (2018). The Battle for the High Street: Retail Gentrification, Class and Disgust. TOWN PLANNING REVIEW, 89 (2), 204-205.

Dobson, J. (2017). Cities That Think Like Planets: Complexity, Resilience, and Innovation in Hybrid Ecosystems (Book Review). Town Planning Review, 88 (3), 381-382. http://doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2017.24

Dobson, J. (2017). From ‘me towns’ to ‘we towns’: activist citizenship in UK town centres. Citizenship Studies, 21 (8), 1015-1033. http://doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2017.1380605

Dobson, J. (2016). Book Review - The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy. People Place and Policy Online, 10 (3), 257-259. http://doi.org/10.3351/ppp.0010.0003.0007

Dobson, J. (2016). Rethinking town centre economies: Beyond the ‘place or people’ binary. Local Economy, 31 (3), 335-343. http://doi.org/10.1177/0269094216640472

Dobson, J. (2015). Britain’s town centres: From resilience to transition. Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, 8 (4), 347-355. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hsp/jurr/2015/00000008/00000004/art00005

Dobson, J. (2015). Achieving food equity : Access to good local food for all. Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, 8 (2), 122-132. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hsp/jurr/2015/00000008/00000002/art00003

Dobson, J. (2013). High Street Regeneration: Rebranding Pushing portas further: Life beyond the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, 6 (2), 112-121.

Dobson, J. (2008). What happens to the best-laid plans? Local Economy, 23 (4), 261-266. http://doi.org/10.1080/02690940802407963

Books

Dempsey, N., & Dobson, J. (Eds.). (2020). Naturally Challenged: Contested Perceptions and Practices in Urban Green Spaces. Springer Nature. https://www.springer.com/gb/book/9783030444792

Dempsey, N., & Dobson, J. (Eds.). (2020). Naturally Challenged: Contested Perceptions and Practices in Urban Green Spaces. Springer Nature. https://www.springer.com/gb/book/9783030444792

Dobson, J., & Atkinson, R. (Eds.). (2020). Urban Crisis, Urban Hope A Policy Agenda for UK Cities. Anthem Press. https://www.anthempress.com/urban-crisis-urban-hope-pb

Dobson, J., & Atkinson, R. (Eds.). (2020). Urban Crisis, Urban Hope A Policy Agenda for UK Cities. Anthem Press. https://www.anthempress.com/urban-crisis-urban-hope-pb

Dobson, J. (2015). How to Save Our Town Centres: A Radical Agenda for the Future of High Streets. Policy Press. https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/how-to-save-our-town-centres

Reports

Dobson, J., Harris, C., & Macmillan, R. (2021). Network Support: Community business peer networking before and during coronavirus. Power to Change. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/network-support-community-business-peer-networking-before-and-during-coronavirus

Eadson, W., Harris, C., Parkes, S., Dobson, J., & Dempsey, N. (2021). Why should we invest in parks? Evidence from the Parks for People programme. Heritage Lottery Fund. https://www4.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/why-should-we-invest-in-parks.pdf

Dobson, J., & Ferrari, E. (2021). Capturing and enhancing the impact of the civic university: current thinking, issues and challenges. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. https://www4.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/capturing-and-enhancing-the-impact-of-the-civic-university.pdf

Dobson, J. (2021). A framework for civic impact: a way to assess universities’ activities and progress. Civic University Network. https://www4.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/civic-activity-framework.pdf

Wells, P., Macmillan, R., & Dobson, J. (2020). Food for thought: Understanding market development in the community business sector. Community Fund. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/food-for-thought-understanding-market-development-in-the-community-business-sector

Eadson, W., Dobson, J., Shepherd, J., Bridge, E., & Hall, J. (2019). Catalysing People-powered Energy in Yorkshire and the Humber. Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/catalysing-people-powered-energy-in-yorkshire-and-the-humber

Eadson, W., Harris, C., Gore, A., & Dobson, J. (2019). Space to thrive: A rapid evidence review of the benefits of parks and green spaces for people and communities. National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Community Fund. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/space-to-thrive-a-rapid-evidence-review-of-the-benefits-of-parks-and-green-spaces-for-people-and

Theses / Dissertations

Dobson, J. (2017). Reading the future : constructing low-carbon imaginaries in urban institutions. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Wells, P., & Eadson, W. http://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00004

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