skip to primary navigation skip to content

Anna Barford BA MA Ph.D

Bye Fellow of Murray Edwards College

Youth Employment, Green Jobs, Circular Economy, Living Wages, Austerity, Inequality



  • 2023- : Youth Employment Technical Specialist, International Labour Organization
  • 2019-2022: Senior Research Associate, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • 2018-2020: College Lecturer, Murray Edwards College, Univ. of Cambridge
  • 2016-2019: College Lecturer, Girton College, Univ. of Cambridge
  • 2015-2018: Research Associate, Centre for Business Research, JBS, Univ. of Cambridge
  • 2013-2014: Research Associate, Department of Geography, Univ. of Cambridge
  • 2011-2012: Research Associate, Institute of Public Health, Univ. of Cambridge
  • 2011: Visiting Research Fellow, The Equality Trust and York Fairness Commission
  • 2010-2011: Researcher, School Report Survey, White City, BBC
  • 2005-2007: Research Assistant, Worldmapper Project, Univ. of Sheffield
  • 2005: Intern, Department of HIV/AIDS, World Health Organisation


  • Ph.D in Geography, University of Sheffield
  • MA in Sociology and Social Research, University of Nottingham
  • BA in Geography, University of Cambridge

College positions

  • Fellow / Bye Fellow, Murray Edwards College (2015-)
  • Fellow, Girton College (2016-2019)
  • Research Fellow, Homerton College (2014-2015)

Funding and awards

  • Social Science Impact Award, ESRC. Taking climate change to school. 2022-2023.
  • Prince of Wales Fellowship in Global Sustainability. 2019-2022.
  • Seed funding from the School of Technology, Univ. of Cambridge. 2021.
  • Asian Development Bank grant: Youth-specific livelihoods impacts and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020-2021.
  • British Academy Youth Futures grant: Peak Youth, Climate Change and the Role of Young People in Seizing their Future. 2020-2022.
  • Global Challenges Research Fund Impact Acceleration Account NGO Data ESRC-4: Understanding the experiences of young people making a living in low-income countries. 2018.
  • Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme 2017/18 Round 2: Peak youth and work in low-income countries. 2018.
  • Returning Carers Scheme, Univ. of Cambridge. 2018.
  • Shortlisted for Best Supervisor in the Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Cambridge University Student-Led Teaching Awards. 2018.
  • Returning Carers Scheme, Univ. of Cambridge. 2015.
  • Roberts Funding, University of Sheffield, to support placement at The Equality Trust. 2011.
  • Buckley Summer Scholarship to attend the ‘Inequality and Social Change in Britain and the United States’ workshop of ‘Social Change: A Harvard – Manchester initiative’. 2010.
  • Gold Award from the U.K. Geographical Association for ‘The atlas of the real world’, 2009.
  • Dudley Stamp Memorial Trust research grant, Royal Geographical Society, 2009.
  • PhD funded by U.K. Economic and Social Research Council’s +3 Studentship, 2007.
  • Award for Excellence in Leading Geography from the U.K. Geographical Association, 2007.
  • MA full scholarship, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Univ. of Nottingham, 2004.
  • David Richards Travel Scholarship & Vacation Study Grant for fieldwork in Nepal, Univ. of Cambridge, 2003.
  • Sidney Sussex College Downham Yeomans Scholarship, Univ. of Cambridge, 2003.


I work on two projects which concern the intersection of the economy, society and policy. One project looks at the youth employment challenge of lower income countries, where most young people are underemployed and are in working poverty. Taking a two-pronged approach I seek to understand youth experiences and aspirations surrounding work, as well as which obstacles they confront. Drawing on young people’s perspectives on their own work, I seek to assess the structural causes and policy tools available to address this. This work is done in collaboration with colleagues from Cambridge and from the International NGO Restless Development. We are supported by funding from the ESRC and University of Cambridge.

I am also researching Regimes of Austerity: Economic Change and the Politics of Contraction. This research examines the politics of austerity in British and North American cities as they respond to recession, recovery, fiscal uncertainty, growing economic inequality, and changing policy demands. With Dr Mia Gray, we: (1) Examine how inequality and the politics around the distribution of public resources have changed at the local level in mid-sized British cities over the last twenty years. (2) Investigate how a city’s economic, demographic and political base can shape the newer politics of austerity. (3) Consider how economic change, inequality and the politics of redistribution inform traditional theories of urban political and economic geography. This builds on my earlier work mapping inequalities, analysing discourses about socio-economic inequality, and engaging with the work of The Equality Trust.

Some of my earlier research has a specific health focus. I researched the history of infectious diseases amongst forced migrants, drawing data from population displacements around the world, as part of a team working on a project entitled Humanitarian Crises, Population Displacement and Epidemic Disease 1901-2010, led by Geography Professors Matthew Smallman-Raynor and Andy Cliff. I also worked at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Public Health, investigating pathways to diagnosis for melanoma patients, with Dr Fiona Walter.

My Ph.D was concerned with attitudes towards international inequality amongst people positioned differently along a spectrum of wealth. I ran discussion groups with teachers in Kenya, Mexico and the UK to access the discourses surrounding inequality that exist in these diverse settings. This was complemented by a statistical analysis of world attitude surveys.

Prior to beginning my PhD I worked on a world mapping project which produced hundreds of cartograms (apparently distorted world maps) to show variables ranging from to wealth distribution, to species at risk of extinction, to commuting times. This resulted in the publication of The Atlas of the Real World: mapping the way we live. These maps can be freely accessed at:


[Publications will load automatically from the University’s publications database…]


  • Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
    • MPhil and PhD supervisor to Kate Brockie and Grace Mueller on Geographies of Work
    • Undergraduate lecturer (Austerity and Affluence; Geographical Research; and Global Urbanism)
    • Undergraduate supervisor (Austerity and Affluence, Dissertations, and Global Urbanism)
    • Sutton Trust Summer Schools on Geography
    • Director of Studies at Homerton, Girton, Murray Edwards and Christ’s Colleges
  • University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
    • MSt in Sustainability Leadership Lecturer
    • MSt in Sustainability Leadership Dissertation Supervisor
    • Bespoke Executive Education Lecturer and Facilitator
  • Department of Geography, University of Sheffield
    • Undergraduate tutor on Research Design
  • Environmental Policy Lab, ETH Zurich
    • Second PhD advisor to Jakob Pruess, on Circular Supply Chains
  • Guest lectures
    • University of Nottingham MA in Public Health
    • University of Northampton on BA in Development
    • In schools and colleges in Kenya, Mexico and the UK

Other activities

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Circle of Advisors to Business Fights Poverty
  • Co-convenor of the Decent Work and Youth Livelihoods group in Cambridge
  • Member of Consortium on Young People and Work
  • Steering Committee of the Centre for Human Inspired Artificial Intelligence