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PGR Research Culture & Community Seminar Programme: Water Culture Seminar Series

Improving the Postgraduate Research Experience at the University of Hull

The Water Cultures Seminar Series


The Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures will pioneer a new, humanities-led, interdisciplinary research area, the ‘green-blue’ humanities. The Centre brings together experts from the sciences, arts, humanities, and health sciences to explore how our relationships with the environment must change in order to sustain cities, communities, and cultures for the generations of tomorrow.

This sesson has now taken place - Seminar 4 - Wednesday 19th May 2021

'Water, Crisis, and Disease in Victorian London: Responses to the Great Stink of 1858.'

Renae Dyball, History, University of Hull     

 London’s economic status as a global city has given it a unique position in the outcome of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The ‘shock’ of Brexit – ‘shock’ here being used to refer to an event which prompted major development and change – will influence the city’s role in the global economy and how institutions within London respond to social and economic challenges in the future. By comparing London’s responses to a selection of historical shocks and evaluating how they influenced the city’s development across time, this may suggest how effective the city’s responses to Brexit will be.

This seminar will focus on one of these historical shocks, the Great Stink of 1858, during which the water pollution of the Thames combined with an unusually hot summer to produce a repulsive smell which emanated from the river. In this seminar, Renae Dyball will explore how the responses to this crisis contributed to the development and improvement of London’s hygiene and infrastructure through the construction of Joseph Bazalgette’s sewers and other policies which improved the sanitation of the overcrowded city.


Renae Dyball is part of the History department at the University of Hull as well as an ESRC-funded member of the White Rose DTP as part of the Cities, Environment and Liveability (CEL) pathway.

This event has now taken place - Seminar 3 - Wednesday 21st April 2021

'Exploring resilience: Experiences, preparedness and vulnerability to flooding in Hull'

Dr Sam Ramsden, Energy & Environment Institute, University of Hull, Energy & Environment Institute   

In this talk, Sam will present the results of a household survey on flooding in three areas of Hull conducted in Autumn 2018 in collaboration with Living with Water. Over 450 households were reached, many of whom were flooded and who wanted to share their experiences for the first time. The results give a detailed picture of what people have done to prepare themselves against flooding and how resilient people feel.

For some respondents, previous experience of flooding including: blaming the failure of agencies to prevent flooding, the damage caused, the lack of help with recovery, and the health and wellbeing impacts, has long-term consequences and created a gap between people and agencies. This gap has been exacerbated by lack of participation in decision making, lack of support and information, and by socio-economic disadvantage, meaning that some residents have not done as much to protect themselves against future flooding as agencies expect.

However, the survey findings are feeding into a new programme of work by Living with Water which is working to listen to residents and take appropriate action.


Dr Sam Ramsden is currently researching flood resilience in Hull & the East Riding, working with the Energy and Environment Institute and collaborating with Living with Water. Throughout his career he has focused on supporting sustainable and resilient communities in the UK and overseas. Sam completed his PhD in Hull with the Department of Geography, and also lived and worked in Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and Vanuatu in a previous life!

This event has now taken place - Seminar 2 - Wednesday 24th March 2021

“I’ll be dead by the time it happens”: Children’s Perceptions of Climate Change and Flooding in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Florence Halstead, Energy & Environment Institute       

The Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam is one of the most at-risk places globally to the effects of climate change and sea level rise, specifically in terms of flooding. Understanding the existing perceptions of those that will face these future challenges, and what contributes to forming those perceptions, is a critical underpinning required for the success of any future resilience and mitigation initiative(s). As both the citizens that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and as those that will go on to face the most severe challenges in the future, children are some of the most important people to consider in this context.

Presenting her research that explored local children’s perceptions of climate change in the heart of the Mekong Delta, Florence Halstead will discuss the creative and arts-based methods that were employed for data collection, as well as the interviews with parents, teachers and government officials that enabled the children’s voices to be further contextualised within their socio-cultural context and environment. As well as discussing the research process and findings, Florence will visit some of the ethical and logistical challenges that she encountered while conducting research with children in an international context.


Florence is a Research Assistant and part-time PhD student within the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull. Florence works on a number of research studies that engage children and youth, with a particular focus on Education for Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience. Her PhD project investigates children’s perceptions of Climate Change and Flooding in the Mekong Delta and she has an interest in Participatory and Creative Methodologies, Climate Resilience, Social and Climate Justice, Youth Climate Activism and Children’s Rights.

This event has now taken place - Seminar 1 - Wednesday 24th February 2021


Discourse and the use of evidence in the governance of flooding and coastal erosion in the UK   

Dr Michael Farrelly, University of Hull       

Dealing effectively with floods and coastal erosion is a key strategic priority for the UK governments, the Environment Agency is currently revising its National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England; the Welsh Government is revising its National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency is due to update its Local Flood Risk Management Plans and Flood Risk Management Strategies in 2022. Diverse communities across the UK are affected by extreme flood events, as others face the effects of coastal erosion on homes and livelihoods in what are often already economically deprived coastal communities.  Issues of risk and uncertainty, diversity of population, geography and local cultures present governments, their agencies, and those who hold them to account in national parliaments with a hugely complex policy issue. Academic work in cultural political economy (Sum and Jessop, 2013, for example) suggests that simplification of complex policy issues is an inevitable and necessary part of governance practices, but that reality will always ‘bite back’.

This paper presents an analysis of the sources and use of ‘evidence’ in current Flood and Coastal Erosion Strategy documents using methods of intertextual analysis. It maps-out sources, range and uses of evidence and shows that, in many ways, this range and usage are limited. The paper raises questions about the extent to which the culture of policy making on flooding in the UK makes best use of evidence.


Dr Michael Farrelly is a Senior Lecturer in English language with research expertise in critical discourse analysis. He has published on methods of CDA, intertextuality, discourse and democracy and critical policy discourse analysis. He is currently working on discourses and the climate crisis.