Who we are: Julia Leventon

I’m Julia, and I have been working with Joern’s group at Leuphana since February this year.  I joined as part of a project called MULTAGRI on the governance of multifunctional agricultural landscapes.  In this project I work closely with Joern and with Prof. Jens Newig in the governance working group of the Institute of Sustainability Communication (INFU).  I was asked to introduce myself via the blog, and I thought I would do so by giving 5 facts about myself, loosely related to research:


Julia Leventon

  1. I started out as a natural scientist.  I am now on the more social side of interdisciplinary, but I did my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at the University of Manchester in the UK.  Its provided me with a great overview of some fundamental concepts in ecology, geology and chemistry.  In every research project since, I have been grateful that I can begin to understand the physical processes that I am dealing with.
  2. I run.  My favourite thing to do with a free day is to spend it running through hills and mountains.  In northern Germany, I have to make do with flat forests, but that’s not really something to complain about.
  3. I like to define my research by concepts rather than by topic.  I am a governance researcher; I examine how diverse interests come together to manage natural resources.  For example, how interests around mineral extraction, climate change mitigation, community development, agriculture and biodiversity compete over the same area of forest for conflicting interests, whose interests are represented (how and why) and what impact this has.  The resources (topics) I have worked on include groundwater, forests, soils and biodiversity.
  4. I’m nomadic (and have a nomadic cat).  After finishing school at 18, I went to Peru for a few months and stayed for a couple of years, and I’ve had ‘itchy feet’ ever since.  After doing my BSc and MSc at Manchester (UK) I went to Budapest for my PhD, including secondments in Greece and Italy. I’ve also lived in the Czech Republic, then time back in the UK working at University of Leeds, with fieldwork in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.  Now I’m in Germany.  The cat has been moving around with me since the Czech Republic.
  5. I’m scared of snakes.  I know they aren’t slimy, and I’m sure they are very beautiful, but I would rather never make contact with a snake.  Unfortunately, there have been a few snake close encounters… including an anaconda in the Amazon, a puff adder in Malawi (that I narrowly avoided running over on a mountain bike) and a spitting cobra in Zambia.

One thought on “Who we are: Julia Leventon

  1. Hi Julia (and Friederike)
    I enjoyed reading about both your backgrounds, certainly quite diverse and I appreciate the social science and governance angles to your interest which coincide with my own.

    I was wondering whether either of you are planning to attend the Interpretative Policy Analysis conference, 3-5 July, in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Check http://www.IPA2014.nl for an outline, though detailed program is yet to appear they do say the topics will include environmental policies, health policies, international development, science and technology, local planning, participatory governance etc.

    I am doing a mature age PhD at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the ANU (where Joern once worked as it turns out) and my topic is “The limits to optimisation … Optimisation versus precaution: understanding the discourses that frame Australian environmental policy”

    Summary of proposal: What am I trying to do?
    I am trying to understand how the purported social goal of ecological sustainability has been implemented in practice by the Australian government. Further, I want to understand what the consequences of the approaches adopted have been for achieving the goal.

    I aim to use the examples of water ‘reform’, forest management and the evolution of national natural resource and environment programs over the last thirty years to do this.

    My proposition is that while we have seen many environmental (policy) initiatives taken in Australia, formal and explicit adoption of the social goal of ecological sustainability has not resulted in any significant change to the institutional arrangements or processes through which policy decisions are made; indeed, it could be argued that traditional arrangements have become more entrenched and are inimical to achieving the goal.

    My research seeks to understand and critique the ideas and explanatory concepts that underpin these institutions and the policy challenges posed by ecological sustainability.

    Anyway, I am trying to identify others who are interested in this broad area of ‘interpretive policy analysis’ and discourse analysis’ as it relates to environmental policy.

    Jim Donaldson
    PhD Scholar
    Fenner School of Society & Environment
    The Australian National University

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