Dr Simon Dickinson

Dr Simon Dickinson

Lecturer in Geohazards and Risk

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)



Lecturer in Geohazards and Risk within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth

Stage 2 Lead for BSc Environmental Science / BSc Environmental Management and Sustainability + Exchange/Year Abroad Leader

Research interests (see 'Research' tab for further details): social change in the disaster landscape (either DRR or recovery); community engagement and participation in disaster recovery; emergent community/non-government organisations 


PhD (2018, University of Exeter, UK): 'Geographies of fidelity: emergent spaces of third sector activity after the Canterbury earthquakes' (supervised by Prof Paul Cloke and Prof Clive Barnett)

MSc  (2014, Canterbury, NZ: 1st Class
BSc Hons (2012, Canterbury, NZ) 



Research interests

My research is broadly focused on social change in disaster landscapes. I am interested in how disasters, and the anticipation of/preparation for them, provide opportunities (or junctures) for more equitable/just societies to emerge. Much of my work focuses on how communities and community-interest groups (including NGOs and other third-sector organisations) are engaged with, or participate in, either disaster planning or recovery. 

To date, my work has largely involved examining the novel and exceptional forms of political engagement that seemingly become possible only after disasters. In these times, typical modes of democratic practice are not regarded as suitable, and are often instead temporarily replaced by new forms of engagement. These can include, for example, community 'hubs' (generating new forms of accessibility to state agencies), or creative 'Share an Idea' forms of public engagement (that seek to crowd-source public needs or desires during recovery). In doing so, my research has sought to understand how different groups seek to utilise these exceptional forms of engagement in order to generate more lasting forms of change.  

I am also interested in researching pedagogical practice, particularly related to innovations in the teaching of qualitative methods. A recently published paper (Journal of Geography in Higher Education) explored the dynamics of using story-mapping with students in order to capture the messy and embodied nature of qualitative research. 

Key Words:
  • Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
  • Disaster recovery
  • Social change
  • New forms political engagement and participation
  • Community participation in disaster recovery 
  • Politics of disaster transformation
  • Teaching of qualitative methods
  • Participatory methodologies (including PAR and working for/within civil society organisations) 




Dickinson, S & Telford, A. (2020). The visualities of digital story mapping: teaching the ‘messiness’ of qualitative methods through story mapping technologies. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/03098265.2020.1712686

Cloke, P. & Dickinson, S. (2019). Transitional ethics and aesthetics: Re-imagining the postdisaster city in Christchurch, New Zealand. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2019.1570838

Dickinson, S. (2019). Alternative narrations and imaginations of disaster recovery: a case study of relocatees after the Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquakes. Social & Cultural Geography. https://doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2019.1574883

Tironi, M., Bacigalupe, G., Knowles, S., Dickinson, S., Gil, M., Kelly, S., Molina, F., Siddiqi, A. & Waldmueller, J. (2019). ‘Figuring’ disasters: an experiment on thinking disasters as methods. Resilience. https://doi.org/10.1080/21693293.2019.1567013

Dickinson, S. (2018). Spaces of post-disaster experimentation: agile entrepreneurship and geological agency in emerging disaster countercartographies. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 1(4), 621-640. https://doi.org/10.1177/2514848618812023

Cloke, P., Dickinson, S. & Tupper, S. (2017). The Christchurch earthquakes 2010, 2011: Geographies of an event. New Zealand Geographer, 73 [2], 69-80. https://doi.org/10.1111/nzg.12152