Caitlin Hafferty: PhD student

Email address:
Google Scholar: View Google Scholar account

Caitlin is an interdisciplinary social scientist interested in stakeholder engagement, environmental planning and governance, digital and participatory methods.


Her PhD was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and supervised by Dr Robert Berry (CCRI), Professor Scott Orford (Cardiff University), Dr Beth Brockett (Natural England), and Chris Short (CCRI). Caitlin’s research investigated ‘what works’ stakeholder engagement in planning and environmental decision-making processes, within a UK context. Specifically, her research explored practitioners’ perspectives of the challenges and opportunities for digital tools for engagement and institutionalising best practice. Caitlin’s approach to research has a strong participatory and collaborative focus, engaging with a range of non-academic stakeholders to produce outputs with tangible benefits for society.

During her PhD, Caitlin completed research internships with Natural England (2021) and the Welsh Government (2019). She has contributed expertise to the Defra Science Advisory Council (SAC) Social Science Expert Group (SSEG) Review of Public Engagement (2021) and UK Parliament POST report on ‘Life Beyond Covid’ (2020). Caitlin has also worked as a co-investigator and named researcher on research contracts funded by Natural England, NICRE, Innovate UK, and Defra.


  • MSc Social Science Research Methods, 2018
  • MSc Sustainability, Environmental Policy and Planning, 2017
  • BSc Geography (Human), 2016.


More publications from Caitlin Hafferty can be found on the Research Repository.


Conferences, talks and workshops

  • Issues with no bounds – the role of public engagement in shaping green agenda choices, attitudes, and behaviours. The Consultation Institute (tCI) Connect, London, 6th October 2022. (guest speaker).
  • Participatory methods for recovery and transformation. RGS-IBG Annual International Conference. Newcastle, 30th August – Friday 2nd September 2022 (session convener).
  • Public participation and digital innovation: responsibility, inclusivity, and precaution in environmental decision-making. RGS-IBG Annual International Conference. Newcastle, 30th August – Friday 2nd September 2022.
  • Navigating conferences and networking. RGS-IBG Postgraduate Midterm Conference, 27-28th April 2022 (panellist).
  • Web-based geospatial tools for stakeholder participation: challenges and opportunities for planning and environmental governance. 6th International Conference on Urban E-Planning, Lisbon, 7-12th April 2022 (online).
  • Session 2: Sustainability. 29th Annual GIS Research UK Conference, Cardiff, 14th-16th April 2021 (session chair).
  • Automated transcription for qualitative research. University of Gloucestershire, 24th June 2021 (webinar).
  • Contemporary Issues in Participatory Geography: Challenges, Opportunities, and New Directions. Online conference: RGS-IBG Participatory Geographies Research Group, 12th-13th May 2021 (co-organiser and chair).
  • #GeogComm: Engaging with your audience. RGS-IBG Midterm Conference, 19th-23rd April 2021 (panellist).
  • Geo-information tools for stakeholder engagement in environmental decision-making: best practice recommendations from a UK case study. 29th Annual GIS Research UK Conference, Cardiff, 14th-16th April 2021. Online at:
  • What is best practice engagement? Natural England internal seminar, 2021 (guest speaker).
  • Engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK Consult Podcast, 8th October 2020.
  • Virtual data collection during COVID-19. Liquid Lab, Loughborough University, November 2020.
  • Digital tools for stakeholder engagement. Commonplace ‘lunch and learn’ session, October 2020.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2018-present).


  • ‘Best Early Career Paper’ at the 29th Annual GIS Research UK Conference (GISRUK), Cardiff, Wales, UK (Online), 14-16 April 2021. View the paper here.
  • Letter of commendation for work serving on the Council (Board of Trustees) of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) as the elected Chair of the Postgraduate Forum, 2019-20.

Additional activities

  • Early Career Officer, RGS-IBG Participatory Geographies Research Group (2022-present).
  • Postgraduate Representative and Digital Officer, RGS-IBG Participatory Geographies Research Group (2019-22).
  • Ordinary Member, RGS-IBG Digital Geographies Research Group (2022-present).
  • Chair (member of the Council, Board of Trustees): RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum (2019-20).
  • Annual Conference Officer, RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum (2018-19).

Caitlin has written guest posts for a variety of academic and non-academic organisations including Grasshopper Communications, Commonplace, and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). She also writes about digital and participatory methods for research and practice on her personal blog/website.