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Dr Kevin Collins

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Engineering & Innovation
  • kevin.collins

Professional biography

I am a senior lecturer in Environment & Systems and have a BSc in Geography & Environment and a PhD in Sustainable Development from the University of London (UCL).  Since joining the OU in 2001 as a research post-doc, I have focussed on systems concepts and practices and ideas of social learning for improving environmental situations.

As well as involvement in a range of international and national research projects, I also contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching on environmental management; systems; and research modules.

Research interests

My research and scholarship explores the dyanmic relationships between a society and its environment.  I use theories of social learning and systems ideas to design social learning systems for transforming.  Much of my work is action research, involving policy-makers, stakeholders and practitioners in many different governance contexts and scales from catchments to national and international policy and practice.  A central theme is the managing and governance of water.  

Current projects include :

CADWAGO - Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance
DRIVER - Drought impacts: vulnerability thresholds in monitoring and early-warning research  (funded by the Belmont Forum's Freshwater Security Theme)
I am also working with DEFRA/Environment Agency on social learning approaches for catchment based approaches and River Basin Planning under the Water Framework Directive.  

Recent initiatives and projects also include:

I am interested in supervising PhDs in the following areas:
  • social learning
  • systems thinking and practice
  • environmental and water resource managing
  • natural resource managing and governance.

Teaching interests

My teaching includes contributions and teaching on variety of modules centred on environmental managing and systems approaches.

Undergraduate: I am co-author of T219 Environmental Management 1 and Environmental Management II

Postgraduate:  T802 Research Project;  TU812 Managing Systemic Change; TD866 Environmental Responsibility, T863 Environmental Decision Making: A Systems Approach

I am also a co-author of a Guide to Systems Diagramming

I currently chair two modules: T219 Environmental Management 1 and T802 Research Project


Enhancing drought monitoring and early warning for the UK through stakeholder co-enquiries (2019-01)
Hannaford, Jamie; Collins, Kevin; Haines, Sophie and Barker, Lucy
Weather, Climate, and Society, 11(1) (pp. 49-63)
Revisiting deliberative policy analysis through systemic co-inquiry: some experiences from the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in England (2019)
Foster, Natalie; Ison, Raymond; Blackmore, Chris and Collins, Kevin
Policy Studies, 40 (pp. 510-533)
Global Water Governance and Climate Change: Identifying Innovative Arrangements for Adaptive Transformation (2018-01-31)
Melo Zurita, Maria de Lourdes; Thomsen, Dana C.; Holbrook, Neil J.; Smith, Timothy F.; Lyth, Anna; Munro, Paul G.; de Bruin, Annemarieke; Seddaiu, Giovanna; Roggero, Pier Paolo; Baird, Julia; Plummer, Ryan; Bullock, Ryan; Collins, Kevin and Powell, Neil
Water, 10, Article 29(1)
Stakeholder engagement in water governance as social learning: lessons from practice (2018)
Wehn, Uta; Collins, Kevin; Anema, Kim; Basco-Carrera, Laura and Lerebours, Alix
Water International, 43(1) (pp. 34-59)
Teaching Environmental Management Competencies Online: Towards “Authentic” Collaboration? (2017)
Bell, Simon; Lane, Andy; Collins, Kevin; Berardi, Andrea and Slater, Rachel
European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 20(1) (pp. 22-44)
Learning for Transformation of Water Governance: Reflections on Design from the Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance (CADWAGO) Project (2016-11-04)
Blackmore, Chris; van Bommel, Severine; de Bruin, Annemarieke; de Vries, Jasper; Westberg, Lotten; Powell, Niel; Foster, Natalie; Collins, Kevin; Roggero, Pier Paolo and Seddaiu, Giovanna
Water, 8, Article 510(11)
Stakeholder Co-inquiries on Drought Impacts, Monitoring and Early Warning Systems (2016-11)
Collins, Kevin; Hannaford, Jamie; Svoboda, Mark; Knutson, Cody; Wall, Nicole; Bernadt, Tonya; Crossman, Neville; Overton, Ian; Acreman, Mike; Bachmair, Sophie and Stahl, Kerstin
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 97(11) (ES217-ES220)
Drought indicators revisited: the need for a wider consideration of environment and society (2016-06-16)
Bachmair, Sophie; Stahl, Kerstin; Collins, Kevin; Hannaford, Jamie; Acreman, Mike; Svoboda, Mark; Knutson, Cody; Helm Smith, Kelly; Wall, Nicole; Fuchs, Brian; Crossman, Neville and Overton, Ian C.
WIREs Water, 3(4) (pp. 516-536)
Water Governance in England: Improving Understandings and Practices through Systemic Co-Inquiry (2016)
Foster, Natalie; Collins, Kevin; Ison, Ray and Blackmore, Chris
Water, 5, Article 540
Institutionalising social learning: towards systemic and adaptive governance (2015-11-30)
Ison, Raymond L.; Collins, Kevin B. and Wallis, Philip J
Environmental Science & Policy, 53(Part B) (pp. 105-117)
Reframing water governance praxis: does reflection on metaphors have a role? (2015)
Ison, Raymond; Allan, Catherine and Collins, Kevin
Environment & Planning C: Government & Policy, 33 (pp. 1697-1713)
Insights into operationalizing communities of practice from SSM-based inquiry processes (2014-12)
Ison, Ray; Blackmore, Chris; Collins, Kevin; Holwell, Sue and Iaquinto, Ben
Systemic Practice and Action Research, 27 (pp. 91-113)
In search of systemic innovation for sustainable development: a design praxis emerging from a decade of social learning inquiry (2014-05-31)
Colvin, John; Blackmore, Chris; Chimbuya, Sam; Collins, Kevin; Dent, Mark; Goss, John; Ison, Ray; Roggero, Pier Paolo and Seddaiu, Giovanna
Research Policy, 43 (pp. 760-771)
Managing complexity in Australian urban water governance: transitioning Sydney to a water sensitive city. (2014)
Floyd, Joshua; Iaquinto, Benjamin L.; Ison, Ray and Collins, Kevin
Futures, 61 (pp. 1-12)
Reframing water governance: a multi-perspective study of an over-engineered catchment in China (2012-04)
Wei, Yongping; Ison, Ray; Colvin, John and Collins, Kevin
Journal of Environmental Planning & Management, 55(3) (pp. 297-318)
Sustainable catchment managing in a climate changing world: new integrative modalities for connecting policy makers, scientists and other stakeholders (2011-12)
Ison, Ray; Collins, Kevin; Colvin, John; Jiggins, Janice; Roggero, Pier Paolo; Seddaiu, Giovanna; Steyaert, Patrick; Toderi, Marco and Zanolla, Chiara
Water Resources Management, 25(15) (pp. 3977-3992)
Trusting emergence: some experiences of learning about integrated catchment science with the Environment Agency of England and Wales (2010)
Collins, Kevin B. and Ison, Ray L.
Water Resources Management, 24(4) (pp. 669-688)
Jumping off Arnstein's Ladder: Social learning as a new policy paradigm for climate change adaptation (2009-11-26)
Collins, Kevin and Ison, Ray
Environmental Policy and Governance, 19(6) (pp. 358-373)
Editorial: Living with environmental change: adaptation as social learning (2009-11)
Collins, Kevin and Ison, Ray
Environmental Policy and Governance, 19(6) (pp. 351-357)
Building learning catchments for integrated catchment managing: Designing learning systems based on experiences in the UK and South Africa (2009)
Collins, Kevin; Colvin, John and Ison, Ray
Water Science & Technology, 59(4) (pp. 687-693)
A systemic approach to managing multiple perspectives and stakeholding in water catchments: some findings from three UK case studies (2007-10)
Collins, Kevin; Blackmore, Chris; Morris, Richard and Watson, Drennan
Environmental Science and Policy, 10(6) (pp. 564-574)
Systemic environmental decision making: designing learning systems (2007)
Ison, Ray; Blackmore, Chris; Collins, Kevin and Furniss, Pam
Kybernetes, 36(9-10) (pp. 1340-1361)
Experimental discursive spaces: policy processes, public participation and the greater London authority (2004-04-01)
Harrison, C. M.; Munton, R. J. C and Collins, K.
Urban Studies, 41(4) (pp. 903-917)
Deliberation and inclusion: vehicles for increasing trust in UK public governance? (2001-07-01)
Bloomfield, D.; Collins, K.; Fry, C. and Munton, R.
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 19(4) (pp. 501-513)
M-World, S-World: Achieving wisdom in online groups (2019-02)
Bell, Simon; Collins, Kevin and Cutting, Charles
ISBN : 978-1-4730-2891-3 | Publisher : Open University | Published : Milton Keynes
Understanding and developing communities of practice through diagramming (2017)
Blackmore, Chris; Foster, Natalie; Collins, Kevin and Ison, Ray
In: Oreszczyn, Sue and Lane, Andy eds. Mapping environmental sustainability: reflecting on systemic practices for participatory research (pp. 155-182)
Publisher : Policy Press | Published : London
Designing social learning systems for integrating social sciences into policy processes: Some experiences of water managing. (2014)
Collins, Kevin
In: Manfredo, M. J.; Vaske, J. J.; Rechkemmer, A. and Duke, E. A. eds. Understanding Society and Natural Resources: Forging New Strands of Integration across the Social Sciences (pp. 229-251)
ISBN : 978-94-017-8958-5 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Amsterdam
Towards systemic governance of social-biophysical systems: social learning as collaborative performance (2014)
Ison, Ray; Collins, Kevin; Blackmore, Chris and Lonsdale, Kate
In : Resilience & Development: Mobilising for Transformation (4-8 May 2014, Montpelier, France)
Supporting Water Governance and Climate Change Adaptation Through Systemic Praxis (2013)
Blackmore, Chris; Ison, Ray and Collins, Kevin
In : 12th Biennial Conference on Communication and Environment, Participation Revisited: Openings and Closures for Deliberations on the Commons, (6-11 Jun 2013, Uppsala, Sweden) (pp. 107-117)
Institutionalising social learning: towards systemic and adaptive governance (2012)
Ison, Raymond; Wallis, Phil and Collins, Kevin
In : Sustainable Hyderabad – Albrecht-Daniel-Thaer Kolloquium 2012 on “Crafting or Designing? Intended Institutional Change for Social-Ecological Systems”, (8-9 Jun 2012, Berlin)
Social learning systems for collective action: a critical review of cases from UK, South Africa, China and Australia using social learning systems (2012)
Blackmore, C.; Collins, K.; Ison, R.; Colvin, J. and Wallis, P.
In : Planet Under Pressure 2012 (25-29 Mar 2012, London, UK)
Public policy that does the right thing rather than the wrong thing righter (2008)
Ison, Ray and Collins, Kevin
In : Analysing Collaborative and Deliberative Forms of Governance (14 Nov 2008, The Australia National University, Canberra, Australia)
Dare we jump off Arnstein's ladder? Social learning as a new policy paradigm (2006-06)
Collins, Kevin and Ison, Raymond
In : Proceedings of PATH (Participatory Approaches in Science & Technology) Conference (4-7 Jun 2006, Edinburgh)
Learning to start systemically in environmental decision making (2006)
Ison, Ray; Blackmore, Chris and Collins, Kevin
In : 7th European IFSA Symposium (7-11 May 2006, Wageningen, The Netherlands)
Partnerships for action in river catchment governance. A case study in the Irwell, UK. (2018)
Foster, Natalie; Ison, Ray; Blackmore, Chris and Collins, Kevin
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
Drought: Understanding and reducing vulnerability through monitoring and early warning systems. Report of the DrIVER workshop, 17 March 2015. (2016-03)
Collins, K.; Hannaford, J.; Haines, S.; Bachmair, S.; Crossman, N.; Stephens, L. and Svoboda, M.
DrIVER project report, Wallingford, UK.
River basin planning project: social learning (Science Report SC050037/SR1) (2005-09-01)
Collins, Kevin; Ison, Ray and Blackmore, Chris
Environment Agency, Bristol, UK.