UCL Anthropology

Prof Katherine Homewood

Prof Katherine Homewood

Professor of Human Ecology

Dept of Anthropology

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
14th Apr 1980

Research summary

My research combines social and natural sciences approaches to interactions of environmental policies and rural development, particularly impacts of conservation policies on local peoples’ land use, livelihoods and wellbeing, developing mixed methods study of differentiated change in rural livelihoods. I focus on East African rangelands, but supervise PhDs working throughout the global South. The Human Ecology Research Group I have convened since 1990 draws together social and natural sciences academic staff, postdocs, PhDs and MScs. I have 30 years’ experience of leading and co-leading large-scale, international interdisciplinary collaborations, funded by DFID, EU, RCUK. My early training in natural science, and subsequent experience and skills in social science, have been important in integrating across disciplines and perspectives. I am strongly committed to delivering research that contributes positively to shaping policy and practice, through building relations with policymakers, civil society and communities. I act to ensure that project research design, data collection, and findings are discussed in depth with local users, tested against lived experience, and made available in ways appropriate for different levels. I use evidence to inform development agencies, civil society professionals and resource managers, leading to positive change in natural resource governance in ways that support poor communities’ wellbeing alongside environmental sustainability. I aim to co-produce findings for local people to negotiate more effectively with state and entrepreneurs, eventually scaling up to influence state policies, investment and community-led management of natural resources, with local cases’ adoption of research-led policy ultimately leading to wider societal change.

Teaching summary

My teaching experience in Human Sciences and Anthropology, together with my research, have made me particularly interested in integrating social and physical aspects of these topics. I enjoy both lecturing and tutorial teaching and have consistently attracted large numbers of students from Anthropology, as well as Human Sciences, Zoology, Geography and other departments. I have developed a number of new courses at UCL, including for example the Human Sciences Seminar course, and Masters courses in human ecology and on resource use and impacts.

1. ANTH0102 Ecology of Human Groups: This Masters’ course introduces the ecology of four different types of rural production system in less developed countries: Gathering/hunting societies, farmers, pastoralists and fishers.  It combines social and natural sciences approaches to the study of rural populations in developing countries. Starting with rather separate bodies of knowledge the course aims to integrate insights and perspectives from the different disciplines as the course goes along.

2. ANTH0105 Resource Use and Impacts: This Masters’ course uses an 
interdisciplinary approach to the interface between ecology, economics and
 culture. It gives an overview of current
 approaches to environmental issues in less developed countries, focusing on case
 studies of actual developing country situations and patterns of change, with an emphasis on practical dimensions of current debates 
and implications for management and development. By investigating how 
impacts of resource use are measured and interventions planned, and by 
critically assessing research design and method, students learn theoretical ideas and practical skills required for their own research projects. Topics covered 
include: Local ecological knowledge and practice vs western science and 
management models in drylands, forests and other ecosystems in the context of
 climate change; political ecology, natural resource use and management,
 conservation and sustainability; poverty and livelihoods. Conceptualizing, measuring and analysing resource use behaviour, environmental impacts and
 implications for human welfare.

3. The Human Ecology Research Group is an interdisciplinary forum where postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff from social and natural sciences meet to discuss research design and methods around issues in environment and development in the course of weekly work in progress and roundtable meetings. 20-30 PGR students and staff including research-rated AED Masters', Human Ecology MPhils and PhDs, 5 staff and visiting contributors/ participants all present and discuss their work. HERG has become a supportive group fostering design and successful completion of numerous research projects and theses

4. Masters' Dissertation Supervision: I supervise dissertations on a wide range of topics in Anthropology of Environment and Development. These mostly include projects on my core areas of the interaction of biodiversity  conservation and development, and on African pastoralist systems, but also, for example, past dissertations on impacts of environmental interventions on forest dwellers in India, of waste and energy infrastructure in the UK, and on state-designed tourism development in China.


University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1976
University of Oxford
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1971


I studied Zoology at Oxford and gained my PhD in Anthropology at the University of London. After working at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, I joined UCL in 1980 as lecturer and Tutor in Human Sciences, an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental degree. I am now Professor of Human Ecology in Anthropology at UCL. The Human Ecology Research Group I convene integrates natural and social sciences approaches to interactions of conservation and development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. I work primarily on the interaction of conservation and development in pastoralist systems in East Africa, focusing on the implications of environmental policies and practice for people's livelihoods and welfare, and on the implications of people's resource use for biodiversity. I publish in both natural and social sciences journals and have directed several European Union- and DFID-funded international collaborative research programmes in East and West Africa and supervised around 40 PhD students, working mainly in a range of African countries but also in Latin America and Central Asia, most of whom have gone on to academic posts, government or NGO work.