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Josephine Chambers PhD MPhil MSc

Josephine Chambers PhD MPhil MSc

Josie researches the implications and politics of diverse efforts to create more sustainable and equitable outcomes, with an emphasis on collaborative multi-stakeholder approaches



  • 2018-present: ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Geography Department, University of Cambridge
  • 2018: Postdoctoral Researcher, Luc Hoffmann Institute and UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre – "The implications of collaborative approaches in conservation"
  • 2013-2018: PhD Researcher, Geography Department, University of Cambridge – "The discourse and reality of 'win-win' interventions for forests and people in the Peruvian Amazon"

Prior to my PhD, I worked on conservation projects in several countries, including developing participatory land use planning methods with Ya'axché Conservation Trust and Fauna & Flora International in Belize, monitoring institutional progress towards biodiversity conservation strategic objectives with the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre in the UK, and conducting research to support conservation planning in Peru, Costa Rica and Uganda.


  • PhD Geography, University of Cambridge (2018)
  • MPhil Conservation Leadership (Distinction), University of Cambridge (2013)
  • MSc Integrated Resource Management (Distinction), University of Edinburgh (2012)
  • BSc Integrative Biology (Highest Distinction), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010)

Funding and awards

  • Cambridge Political Economy Society Trust Supplementary PhD Funding (2017)
  • William Vaughan Lewis Fund, Geography Department, University of Cambridge (2017)
  • Cambridge Global Food Security Early Career Researcher Travel Fund (2017)
  • Antipode Foundation International Workshop Award (2016-2017)
  • Luc Hoffman Institute - University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute Interdisciplinary Conservation Workshop Grant (2016-217)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Marshall Scholarship (2013 – 2017)
  • Marshall Scholarship (2011-2013)
  • University Fieldwork Fund, Geography Department, University of Cambridge (2014 - 2015)
  • University of Illinois graduation honors – Bronze Tablet Award, Harriet Long Academic Achievement Award, Summa cum laude (2010)


I am a political ecologist, with a focus on interventions that aim to jointly conserve the environment and improve human well-being. Diverse approaches have proliferated globally over the past decade, yet weak evidence exists for their success in practice. My research seeks to: 1) critically assess these interventions by exploring questions such as: how are they designed? what are their implications? why do they fail or succeed according to different perspectives? what politics often drive a disconnect between narratives and outcomes?, and 2) develop collaborative methods with diverse multi-stakeholder groups to design constructive alternatives to dominant approaches to conservation.

My doctoral research followed this approach in the context of the region of San Martin in northern Peru. The findings demonstrated how and why the approaches and narratives of 11 conservation organisations were mismatched with the perspectives of local people living in project areas. I organised a two-day Antipode Foundation sponsored workshop in the region to facilitate 70 representatives of government, NGOs, communities and research institutions to question common assumptions and approaches and promote constructive dialogue over new possibilities.

My postdoctoral research with the Luc Hoffmann Institute brought together 40+ researchers from over 20 research institutes worldwide to explore key differences between diverse collaborative methods to address environmental challenges. Together we examined in-depth cases from over 30 countries across six continents, making this the broadest scale analysis to date of collaborative approaches in conservation. We hope the improved transparency over what people actually mean when they use collaborative terminology and the implications of these choices will help people to better co-design and navigate collaborative approaches to conservation.

As an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, I will focus on publishing my doctoral and postdoctoral research to date and will further research and trial social learning methodologies to foster self-reflection and constructive dialogue among conservation and development project donors and managers.


  • Jucker T, Wintle B, Shackelford G, Bocquillon P, Laurens J, Kasoar T, Kovacs E, Mumby H, Orland C, Schleicher J, Tew E, Zabala A, Amano T, Bell A, Bongalov B, Chambers J, et al. 2018. Ten‐year assessment of the 100 priority questions for global biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology. doi:10.111/cobi.13159
  • Chambers, J and Schleicher J. 2017. Dialogue event summary: building bridges for the conservation of forests and well-being of communities in San Martin, Peru (English translation). Amazónicos por la Amazonía: Moyobamba, Peru. Available in English and Spanish.
  • Sunderland, T, Baudron, F, Ickowitz, A, Padoch, C, Ros-Tonen, M, Sandbrook, C, Vira, B, Chambers, J, Deakin, E, Foli, S, Jeary, K, Parrotta, JA, Powell, B, Reed, J, Ogalleh, SA, Neufeldt, H, Serban, A. 2015. Food, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition: A Global Assessment Report, Chapter 5: Response Options Across the Landscape. International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Series Volume 33, Vienna. Available here.
  • Allgas, N, Shanee, S, Shanee, N, Chambers, J, Tello-Alvarado, JC, Keeley, K, Pinasco, K. 2016. Natural re-establishment of a population of a critically endangered primate in a secondary forest: the San Martín Titi monkey (Plecturocebus oenanthe) at the Pucunucho Private Conservation Area, Peru. Primates, 1-8. doi:10.1007/s10329-016-0581-8
  • Milich, KM, Stumpf, RM, Chambers, JM, & Chapman, CA. 2014. Female red colobus monkeys maintain their densities through flexible feeding strategies in logged forests in Kibale National Park. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 154(1), 52-60. doi:10.1002/ajpa.22471


Teaching and impact

  • Designer, "Game of Life" – A two-hour interactive game for youth to explore how rules and power shape the distributional justice and sustainability of resource use in society; Facilitator, training session for University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute (2018) and five events for the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, Science Festival and in Community Centres in Cambridge (2013-2017)
  • Guest Lecturer, Geography, Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge (2017)
  • Guest Lecturer, Conservation Biology, University of Illinois, US (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Presenter, Political Ecology Network – POLLEN Conference (Oslo, Norway – 2018), Political Ecology Seminars (University of Cambridge – 2018), American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting (Boston – 2017), The Value of Life: Measurements, Stakes, Implications (Wageningen, Netherlands – 2017), Parks and Environmental Behavior Seminar (University of Illinois, US – 2017), Department of Zoology Lab Lunch (University of Cambridge – 2017), Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group Seminar (University of Cambridge – 2016)
  • Organiser, International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB), Cartagena, Colombia, Triple Symposia: "Critically examining 'success' in conservation" (2017)
  • Organiser, Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) II Conference, Oaxaca, Mexico, Two-day workshop: "A closer look at co-production: what works, when, where and how?" (2017)
  • Organiser, Antipode Foundation International Workshop, Two-day workshop: "Building bridges for the conservation of forests and well-being of communities in San Martin, Peru" (2017)
  • Organiser, Luc Hoffmann Institute and University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, Half-day workshop: "How do you understand human behaviour in conservation?" (2017)

External activities

  • Convenor, Conservation and Behaviour Change special interest group, Cambridge Conservation Initiative (2017-present)
  • Membership Secretary, Cambridge Conservation Forum (2016-present)
  • Workshop Leader, Action for Conservation (NGO), London (2016-present)
  • Jazz Singer, The Cambridge Corncrakes – Cambridge Conservation Forum Band (2013-present)
  • Co-convenor, Political Ecology Seminars, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (2016-2017)