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This Research & Knowledge Exchange Doctoral Project brief summarises our priority areas of research interest under the heading of: ENVIRO/PHOTO.

We welcome all research degree applications aligned with and in response to this brief.

Project brief details

The climate crisis is affecting millions of people around the world today. And threatening millions more in the very near future. It is often said that photographs have changed the world. Might photography also have the power to save it?  

‘In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act’. Top photographers are using their talents to draw attention to the beauty and tragedy in nature and to the real challenges our environment faces. Photography clearly has a role to play in engaging the pressing issues of our time, but perhaps photography itself is ultimately unsustainable? Can photographic practice reconcile itself and reinvent, meeting the needs of life on a warming planet? 

Photographers, journalists, communicators and content creators around the world must better explain the causes of climate change, investigate those responsible for environmental harm and bring them to account, and tell the stories of those living with its effects, while presenting solutions. How serious this all gets now depends on how quickly society transforms. And how quickly society transforms depends on how many people demand it.  

Your stories, your skills, and your research insights have the power to awaken people to the seriousness of this situation, to the fact, to the reality, and to demand the change that our world now needs. The more we demand change the faster change will come, and the bigger that change can be.  


The climate emergency is a crisis of overwhelming proportions. It is a crisis of political will, a crisis of business, a crisis of biodiversity, a crisis of society, a crisis of thought itself. Perhaps the role of the arts in all this has been overstated, perhaps it is expecting too much? But, we must stand up. And we need imagination. To have change we need to imagine the kind of change we want.   

Can your research be part of an urgent and new conversation? Do you want to engage in meaningful and transformative ways with the most pressing ecological questions of our time? 

We are looking to connect with those who have photographic research interests in all manner of ecological and cultural contexts, from rural areas to ocean habitats, from activism to scientific communication. We actively encourage research applications from post-graduate students with diverse backgrounds. We are interested both in process and outcome: in how images are made, and in how they are used, and abused.  

Based within Falmouth’s Institute of Photography, but working with partners locally and globally, you will undertake profile-raising, practice-based research, embedded within a critically engaged and ethical framework.  

  • How can the photographic industry become more sustainable? 
  • How can we better understand the impact and influence of photographs? 
  • How can photography be a force for good in the Anthropocene? 
  • How best to report the climate crisis? 
  • How can creative practice empower and amplify the voices of indigenous peoples? 
  • How can creative practice improve the futures of non-human animals? 
  • How can creative practice support activism? 
  • How can creative practice enable positive behavioural change? 
  • How can photography re-invent itself to better meet the needs of a planet in crisis? 


  • Can your research and contemporary creative practice make interventions in a wide range of environmental issues and extend the ways in which photography and the natural world is understood?  
  • Can your research engage with live projects, with potential partners working in environmental, health, youth, justice, and community areas of interest? 
  • Can your research extend your photographic vision to create powerful stories that resonate with your audience and transcend disciplinary boundaries? 
  • Can your research help the visual arts overcome the cultural barriers that exist between public attention and environmental science? 

Bring your best ideas. The brief is broad, but the urgency is very real. Can your PhD research play a part in this call for a better future? 

Strategic alignment

Projects deriving from this brief are expected to sit within the Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy and the following department.

Department Institute of Photography

All successful research degree project proposals must emphasise a clear alignment between the project idea and our Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy. 

Project brief lead

Huw Apple 0
Huw Apple 0

Project Brief Supervisor: Associate Professor Huw Lewis-Jones

Dr Huw Lewis-Jones is an environmental historian and expedition leader. Huw is a storyteller and seafarer, a field naturalist and wilderness guide, an award-winning author and teacher. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, directs research projects across the world, and leads voyages to challenging places. He is a creative adventurer and conservation advocate, exploring new ways of thinking.

Find out more

How to apply

Apply for a Research MPhil or PhD

We welcome all research degree applications aligned with this Doctoral Project brief. ​To apply in response to this brief or learn about the application process click the button below.

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Project brief & project proposal enquiries

To discuss this project brief, ideas or project proposal responding to this brief, please contact: Associate Professor Huw Lewis-Jones.

E: Huw.LewisJones@falmouth.ac.uk

Application enquiries

For all other application related enquires please contact the Research & Development team.

E: research@falmouth.ac.uk

T01326 255831

Additional resources

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