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Sustainable and Resilient Cities: Liverpool

Sustainable and Resilient Cities: Liverpool

By Abigail O'Connor
Series Two: From the same team, exploring 'Doing a PhD during a global pandemic'.

Series One
This first collection of eight podcasts created by PhD students at the University of Liverpool, explores how we are doing research during the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to policy issues in the Liverpool City Region. Hosted by Abi O'Connor (@abioconnor_) and co-produced by Ronnie Hughes (@asenseofplace1), this podcast is part of the Sustainable and Resilient Cities (SARC) Research Theme.
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S2 Ep8: Liam Markey – Inaccessible data sets & discussing the politics of funding
Today Abi and Ronnie are joined by fellow SSPC PGR student Liam Markey. Liam’s PhD is a collaborate project with the British Library, which looks to chronicle the last  100 years of British ‘military victimhood’ following the First World War, through both print and digital cultural artefacts in the British Library collection. Liam’s research involved monthly visits to the British Library in London to access hard copies of datasets, which inevitably changed as a result of the initial lockdown in March and on-going restrictions since. In this episode we talk through the difficulties this has caused Liam in terms of his academic work and how he’s adapted to these changes. Later in the episode we open up a discussion around the financial implications of the COVID19 pandemic, first through reference to Liam’s experience before talking about the difficulties currently faced by PhD students more widely, and the ongoing issues around funding.2 Read Liam’s latest writing for the British Library here or you can find out more about his research via his blog. Liam can be contacted via email or Twitter: @Liam_Markey94. Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved with the podcast! Contact Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: & Ronnie @asenseofplace1 or *This episode was recorded in early December 2020, before the third national lockdown*
January 13, 2021
S2 Ep7: Pat Ballantyne – Moving the lab home: changes to data and research resulting from COVID19
Today Abi & Ronnie talk to Patrick Ballantyne, a PhD student in the Geographic Data Science Lab, based in the Department of Geography & Planning. Pat’s research, centred around Retail Geography, employs methods both quantitative and spatial in nature, which come under the umbrella of 'Geographic Data Science'. The primary aim of his PhD is to gain a deeper understanding of the geography of retail centre space, demonstrating how such an understanding can be used to  respond to external pressures in the retail sector, such as changing consumer behaviours and the growth of online shopping. When lockdown began in March, Pat’s access to the shared laboratory – and therefore his research – became restricted. He discusses how he’s adjusted to these challenges, giving an overview of his experience of working from home, whilst also highlighting  the opportunities COVID-19 has presented in terms of consumer data and changing research agendas. You can get in touch with Pat via email or via Twitter @pj_ballantyne For code and updates on his projects visit: Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved in upcoming episodes, we’d love to hear from you about life as a PhD student, your research, new projects you’re involved in or changes to your work resulting from COVID19 (this list is not exhaustive!) Contact Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: & Ronnie @asenseofplace1or
January 6, 2021
S2 Ep6 (Pt2): Adele Moore & Leah Molyneux – Quizzing Abi & Ronnie on life as a PhD student
In Part 2 of our conversation with Adele & Leah, we gave them the opportunity to ask us any questions they have about life as a PhD students, things we wish we’d have known when we started, tips for staying on top of our workloads and combatting loneliness – amongst much more! You can contact Adele via and Leah via Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved in upcoming episodes, we’d love to hear from you about life as a PhD student, your research, new projects you’re involved in or changes to your work resulting from COVID19 (this list is not exhaustive!) Contact Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: & Ronnie @asenseofplace1or
December 17, 2020
S2 Ep5 (Pt1): Adele Moore & Leah Molyneux – Starting a PhD during a global pandemic
In this episode Abi and Ronnie are joined by Adele and Leah, two CASE PhD students in the department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology. Adele’s research is a feminist exploration of contraception and reproductive rights, in collaboration with a local clinic in Liverpool. Leah’s work is a ethnographic study of discretion, working with the College of Policing. Both Adele & Leah started their studentships in October, 2020 – so in this episode we talk to them about how they’ve found their first few months, whether they’ve had to make any methodological changes to their research already, and how they’re adapting to writing and working from home. You can get in touch with them via email // Part two of this episode will be released 17th December 2020!
December 15, 2020
S2 Ep4: Gavin Daly – Exploring the role of planners as political subjects in cities
Gavin Daly, a PhD student at the Heseltine Institute, joins Abi & Ronnie in today’s episode. Gavin currently works as a Senior Project Expert at the European Spatial Planning Observatory Network. His research explores the role that alternative planning discourses can have in the context of global environmental challenges, seeking to identify the place that grass-roots community movements can play in institutional change. In the episode we discuss how he came to be involved in this research, the influence that his previous career in planning has on his work, and how the crises of the last decade (including the financial crash of 2008/9, austerity and the COVID19 pandemic) make visible some of the detrimental consequences that capital-led growth projects have on urban spaces and their populations. You can read some of Gavin’s recent work here and you can contact him via Twitter: @gavinjdaly or via email: Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved! Contact Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: & Ronnie @asenseofplace1or
December 9, 2020
S2 Ep3: Emily Kearon-Warrilow – Moving from doing research in Bombay’s High Court Archives to working online & reshaping the PhD
Emily Kearon-Warrilow, a History & Law PhD student and Graduate Teaching Fellow, joins us today to discuss the changes she’s made to her research as a result of the travel restrictions imposed since March 2020. Emily’s work explores the legal history of colonial India, examining sexual crimes involving children. Initially, her methods involved travelling to Bombay High Court’s extensive yet under-utilised archives, to uncover unpublished records, but COVID19’s impact on global travel meant her research and methods had to change. In this episode we discuss how Emily has navigated these unforeseen circumstances, including some fundamental shifts she has made to her research questions/aims and some barriers she is facing due to the current political debate regarding academic freedom in India. We go on to chat about the highs and lows of working (and writing!) from home, being isolated from colleagues and the move to online teaching. Before asking Emily what her advice would be to new and current PhD students. You can get in touch with Emily via email or via Twitter @WarrilowEmily Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved with the podcast! Contact Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: & Ronnie @asenseofplace1 or
December 2, 2020
S2 Ep2: Cameron Byron – The (im)material politics of death in the context of COVID19
Abi & Ronnie are joined by Cameron Byron, a PhD student in the Geography and Planning Department at the University of Liverpool. Cameron’s research explores the historical and political geographies of Wirral cemeteries. His work is looking to identify how (im)material and volumetric practices of territory are mobilising deathscapes. Cameron discusses his research in relation to the COVID19 pandemic, both in terms of how COVID19 related deaths may have an influence on the politics of the (dead) body specifically within urban spaces, but also in relation to how lockdown has altered his research methods. You can get in touch with Cameron via Twitter @ccameronbyron or via email Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved with the podcast! Contact Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: & Ronnie @asenseofplace1or
November 25, 2020
S2 Ep1: Emily McIndoe - From El Salvador to Skype, shifts in research methods due to COVID19
In this episode Emily McIndoe, PhD student in History, joins Abi and Ronnie to talk about how travel restrictions have impacted her research. Emily’s research explores British aid to El Salvador between 1970-2009, which was originally being conducted through a combination of archival research and oral history interviews in both Britain and El Salvador. Emily discusses the changes she’s made in recent months, having started fieldwork in October 2019 before everything moved online. Emily tells us about both the benefits and difficulties which have arisen from this, before going on to discuss the uses of snowball sampling in the context of her research and experiences of finding alternative sources of data, from unexpected places. You can get in touch with Emily via Twitter @mcindoeee or via email The History Work In Progress seminar series (discussed in the episode) meets regularly throughout the semester and is an opportunity to present papers, problems and ideas in a friendly informal environment and receive feedback from fellow PGRs. The next meeting is Wednesday 2nd December (2.30 - 3pm), email for information on how to get involved - all welcome! Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved! Contact Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: & Ronnie @asenseofplace1 or
November 18, 2020
Series One Ep8: Mark Boyle - Review of Series 1
In this final episode of Series One Ronnie & Abi are joined by Professor Mark Boyle. Mark is the academic lead for the Sustainable and Resilient Cities research theme at the University of Liverpool, which is where the idea for this podcast series originated. We reflect on the podcast so far, discussing some of the pertinent issues facing PhD students currently and talk about the importance of disseminating research widely, both within and outside the academic community. You can contact Mark via email As series 1 comes to an end, we wanted to thank everyone who’s listened in – we so pleased with the response that we’ve decided to return for a series 2! On 18th November 2o20 we will release the first of our ‘Doing a PhD during a global pandemic’ episodes. As always, please get in touch if you’d like to be involved or have any ideas you’d like us to discuss! Abi: @abioconnor_ Ronnie: @asenseofplace1
November 4, 2020
Series One Ep7: Abi O’Connor in conversation with Ronnie Hughes, on her work - Liverpool, central government & the process of 'managed decline'
Ronnie & Abi come together in this week’s episode to discuss Abi’s research in the context of Liverpool’s current circumstances: including having now entered tier 3 lockdown restrictions. Our conversation explores the relationship between central and local government, amid calls that this is a second round of ‘managed decline’, also the geographical inequalities which have come to characterise Britain, and how Abi’s work speaks to the consequences of the current political and social climate on Liverpool. The latter half of the episode then moves to a conversation about what’s next for the podcast. Where we’ll be thinking about what ‘Doing a PhD in a pandemic’ really means. We touch upon topics we'll be discussing in ‘Series 2’, including our experiences of changing research methods, writing during lockdown and our lives beyond the PhD – amongst many other issues! You can read more of Abi’s work here You can get in touch via email:, or Twitter @abioconnor_ Plus, we’d love to hear from you if you're interested in doing an episode on the podcast or if you have any ideas topics you’d like to suggest for us to discuss, do please drop us a message.
October 28, 2020
Series One Ep6: Richie Kirwan - The Impacts of Decreased Movement during Lockdown
In this week’s episode Abi is joined by Richie Kirwan, a PhD student in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University. Richie’s work looks to understand the influence of diet and exercise on muscle mass in older people, exploring how this can affect heart health. In the episode Richie discusses his research and the arguments made in his most recent article which identifies the health implications of lockdown. We then apply Richie’s findings to understanding the difficulties currently being faced in the Liverpool City Region, discussing the question of space for exercising during lockdown and the financial restraints faced by individuals, families and the local authority when looking to improve health and well-being. The article referenced in this episode is available to read here You can get in touch with Richie via email on, via Twitter @bm_nutrition or via Instagram @be_more_nutrition. You can get in touch with Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: Please let us know if you'd like to be involved in the podcast!
October 21, 2020
Series One Ep5: Lucy Dowdall - The Importance of the Upper Mersey Estuary
In the first of our inter-institutional episodes, Abi is joined by Lucy Dowdall, a PhD Student in the Environmental and Biological Sciences Department at Liverpool John Moores University. Listen to us discuss Lucy’s research, which explores the ‘natural capital’ approach to the management of the Upper Mersey Estuary. Lucy explains why we should be conserving spaces like this, explaining the importance of the estuary to the Liverpool City Region. Looking towards future, we discuss ways to create ‘win win’ situations – which respond to pressing issues, including housing shortages, whilst also preserving the estuary and all of its benefits. Lucy can be contacted via email on or via her Twitter: @DrDowdall. You can get in touch with Abi via Twitter: @abioconnor_ or email: Please let us know if you'd like to be involved in the podcast! 
October 14, 2020
Series One Ep4 Chloe Spence: Digital Mental Health Services - Let's Keeping Talking
Chloe Spence, a PhD student in the Management School, joins Abi to talk about her PhD Research which explores mental health service delivery, specifically drug addiction services for women. In this episode we talk about changes to mental health service delivery which have been implemented during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the long-term viability of services going digital. Specifically, Chloe talks about Let’s Keep Talking, a free local telephone service which has recently been launched in Liverpool. You can contact Chloe via email on Her MRes dissertation, an evaluation of Goleudy, a Welsh tenancy support and mental health service, is available to read here: You can get in touch with Abi via Twitter @abioconnor_ or email on
October 7, 2020
Series One Ep3 Tilly Clough: Educational Inequalities in Independent & State Schools
Abi is joined by Tilly Clough, a PhD student in Liverpool’s Law School. Tilly’s research explores the charitable status of independent schools and whether this status can be justified. In this episode Tilly discusses the differential access to resources between independent and state schools discussing how this perpetuates inequalities, particularly in the context of the move to online teaching at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tilly’s article on Private School Policy Reform is available here: Tilly’s piece on the Impact of COVID-19 on Educational Inequality and the Attainment Gap is available here: You can follow Tilly on Twitter @tilly_clough or contact her via email on You can get in touch with Abi via Twitter @abioconnor_ or email on
September 30, 2020
Series One Ep2 Olly Kennedy: Modern Slavery in Corporations
In this episode Abi is joined by Olly Kennedy, a PhD student in the Management School. Olly’s research focuses on social value and combatting modern slavery in global supply chains. Olly discusses the need to ensure our understanding of modern slavery transcends that which is perpetuated by the media – the idea that modern slavery is a problem, but one which happens elsewhere. Specifically, Olly discusses the proposed £8.8billion Economic Recovery Plan for the Liverpool City Region, providing up to 28,000 jobs in the construction industry and the implications this may have with regards to casualised and precarious labour. Olly’s co-authored Policy Briefing is available here:,Brief,004,Coordinating,Public,Procurement.pdf You can find Olly on Twitter @ollywkennedy or contact him via email on You can get in touch with Abi via Twitter @abioconnor_ or email on
September 23, 2020
Series One Ep1 Ronnie Hughes: Better Lives in Better Places
In the first episode of the series Abi talks to Ronnie Hughes, a fellow Sociology PhD student and also the co-producer, with herself, of this series of podcasts. Here Ronnie discusses his PhD research on Utopia in relation to the present and local context, drawing on his experiences as one of the founding members of Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust  (amongst many other community organisations) to explore how life might look like in the Liverpool City Region as the local economy and society begin to rebuild following lockdown. You can find Ronnie on Twitter @asenseofplace1, and follow his blog, which explores all things Liverpool: You can get in touch with Abi via Twitter @abioconnor_ or email on
September 16, 2020
Series One Intro: Abi O'Connor - Sustainable and Resilient Cities: Liverpool
In this short intro to Series One SaRC postgraduate research lead Abi O'Connor discusses the purpose of the series and talks about what can be expected from upcoming episodes. Abi’s research is a sociological exploration of the political economy of stigmatisation in Liverpool and the impacts this has on governance and policy. Her most recent publication is available at Find more information on Abi’s work here: Abi’s Twitter is @abioconnor_ or you can contact her via email on
September 16, 2020