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 within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SoGEES) at the University of Plymouth. I teach into the Geography, Environmental Science, Environmental Management & Sustainability, and Geosciences programmes within SoGEES.

South-West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP) Geography Pathway Lead 

Research interests (see 'Research' tab for further details): the live-streaming of extreme environmental events; citizen-generated media in disaster contexts; virtual disaster hubs/information spaces; 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) 



Teaching interests

I currently teach on the following modules:

Module Convenor

ENVS2004 Environmental Issues and Communication

ENVS/M2002 Environmental Management/Sustainability in Practice (leader of the Sweden fieldtrip)

GEOL3014 Geohazards and Risk

Module Contributor 

ENVM1001 Environment and Society

ENVS1010 Global Environmental Challenges

ENVM3001 Systems Thinking and Change Leadership in Sustainability

ENVM3002 Systems Thinking in Sustainability: Independent Investigation

ENVS3011 Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation

ENVS3012 The Environmental Professional

GEES519 Environmental Knowledge: From Field to Stakeholder

GEES506 Climate Change: Science and Policy



Research interests

My research is centered around a core question of how people make sense of disasters and their impacts. Most commonly, I try to answer this question by focusing on one of the following two areas/practices: 

1. One element of my research examines how people produce and engage with video/visual streams of extreme environment events. A growth in devices with streaming capabilities means that is now possible to watch footage of events being streamed from a number of sources: individuals streaming their own personal experience son their phones, (often) tens of thousands of people searching for webcams online depicting extreme weather affecting airports or popular beach areas, or even local authorities using streams/webcams on hazard warning websites in order to communicate potential risk. My research explores how and why people produce and engage with these streams - including how watching such imagery shapes hazard knowledge, risk-taking behaviors, or whether video technology enables people to engage with changing places in novel ways.

2. A second element of my research examines the new and radical forms of community organisation and practice that emerge after disasters. I'm interested in how newly created groups learn (i.e. how knowledge is passed between groups and movements), gain legitimacy (i.e. are recognised as being able to speak for particular groups/issues), and engage with government (i.e. participate in decision-making) in the post-disaster landscape. 

In these times of recovery, 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 'improve' democratic practice in the longer term. 

Additionally, I am interested in the politics of localisation. I write about the relationships between local-scale NGOs and International NGOs (INGOs)

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:
  • Democracy
  • Community
  • Transformation
  • Live-streaming
  • Extreme weather
  • Risk behaviour
  • Qualitative methods
  • Participatory methodologies (including PAR and working for/within civil society organisations)  



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted


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

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 44, (3) 441-457 , DOI
Dickinson S (2019) 'Changing places: geographies of post-disaster landscapes' Geography 104, (3) 116-124 , DOI
Cloke P & Dickinson S (2019) 'Transitional Ethics and Aesthetics: Reimagining the Postdisaster City in Christchurch, New Zealand' Annals of the American Association of Geographers 109, (6) 1922-1940 , DOI
Tironi M, Bacigalupe G, Knowles SG, Dickinson S, Gil M, Kelly S, Ludwig J, Moesch J, Molina F & Palma K (2019) 'Figuring disasters, an experiment on thinking disruptions as methods' Resilience 7, (2) 192-211 , DOI
Dickinson S (2019) 'Alternative narrations and imaginations of disaster recovery: a case study of relocatees after the Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquakes' Social & Cultural Geography 22, (2) 273-293 , DOI
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 , DOI
Cloke P, Dickinson S & Tupper S (2017) 'The Christchurch earthquakes 2010, 2011: Geographies of an event' New Zealand Geographer 73, (2) 69-80 , DOI