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Lucy Goodman BA MSc

PhD student


Researching the conflicts and contested discussions around sustainable development by reviewing the planning processes and impacts of large dams.



  • 2007 – 2008: University of East Anglia, UK. MSc Applied Ecology and Conservation, Distinction. NERC Scholar
  • 2004 – 2007: University of Oxford, UK BA in Biological Sciences.


I research the conflicts and contested discussions around sustainable development by reviewing the planning processes and impacts of large dams. I take an interdisciplinary approach to this by combining information from qualitative sources such as interviews with those impacted by dam developments and project proponents and econometric analysis of satellite imagery to investigate the broad-scale economic changes occurring around dam sites.

I have three main areas of my PhD:

  1. Investigating the economic change around dam sites, using night light imagery:
  2. Interpreting who captures this change and why using semi-structured interviews with those familiar with two sites in the Indian Himalayas.
  3. Reviewing contested narratives around dam development with a broad range of stakeholders – read more on this project page: Building more large dams: A review of opinions.

My work follows the discipline of political ecology, which seeks political economy explanations of environmental change and interrogates who captures these changes and why.

Prior to my PhD, I worked as a conservation professional at the international, national and community levels, with a focus on community-conservation and forests. I have a significant interest in the physical and conceptual frontier between conservation and human-induced land-use change, and how we define “natural” landscapes, which has fed into my professional work.

Highlights of my career have been: delivering technical training on forest surveys, spatial analysis and forest policy in over fifteen countries; working with forest communities to develop – a resource which brings together experiences of community forest monitoring around the world; and attending the UNFCCC and CBD Conferences of the Parties.

More recently I travelled through South and Central Asia, and my first-hand experience of environmental disasters caused by water-management infrastructure has led me to my PhD research. I’m grateful to Cambridge’s ESRC DTP programme, from whom I have an interdisciplinary studentship.

My supervisors are Professor Bhaskar Vira (Geography Department) and Dr Shaun Larcom (Land Economy Department).

Please contact me by email if you are interested in my research and would like to contribute by sharing your opinion on large dams and sustainable development. I also welcome approaches for book reviews from journals.


Selected publications:

  • 2019 Goodman. Book review: Water, Technology and the Nation-State. Urban Studies.
  • 2015 Bellfield et al. Case study report: Community-based monitoring systems for REDD+ in Guyana. Forests;
  • 2012 Contribution to: REDD+: where do we stand? Chapter in State of the Congo Basin Forest 2012;
  • 2012 Swan et al. REDD+ Biodiversity Safeguards: Options for Developing National Approaches.
  • 2012 Mitchard et al. A novel application of satellite radar data: monitoring carbon sequestration and degradation in a community forestry project in Mozambique. Plant Ecology and Diversity
  • 2010 Grace et al. A pilot project to store carbon as biomass in African woodlands. Carbon Management.


I supervise on the following undergraduate courses:

  • Society, Environment and Sustainable Development
  • Economic Globalisation and its Crises
  • Political Ecology in the Global South