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Dr Johanna Wadsley

BMus(Hons), MSc, MRes

JWadsley portrait; photographer Gair Dunlop

Profile summary

Professional biography


PhD Geography (Open University)
MRes Geography (Open University)
MSc Science, Culture & Environment (Birkbeck College, University of London)
BMus(Hons) (University of Tasmania, Australia)

Professional affiliations

Fellow, Royal Geographical Society
Affiliate Member, OpenSpace Research Centre


RGS-IBG Neville Shulman Challenge Award 2012 (Co-PI), Hugging the Coast: an exploration by sea-kayak of liminal living in the Sangihe archipelago, North Sulawesi, Indonesia


I have previously worked on the following undergraduate courses: Environment: journeys through a changing world (U116, Block 3: Nile Limits), Environment: sharing a dynamic planet (DST206) and Earth in crisis: environmental policy in an international context (DU311).


I am currently engaged as a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the project titled Sounding Coastal Change (AHRC, PI Revill, Listening to Climate Change: experiments in sonic democracy). I also manage the project:

My research interests to date have been characterized by two broad themes. The first is how governance of resources 'gets done', and the multiple understandings of human and moral rights to the same. The second has concerned the shifting modes of engagement between the private sector and civil society. In the course of pursuing these themes I have developed a third set of interests around coastal lives and livelihoods in the context of environmental change – ‘coping on the coast’.

My PhD research, undertaken in the Department of Geography at the Open University, considered the moral economy of 'financing water for all' in global water governance. Positions held as a postdoctoral researcher and research consultant have given me the opportunity to investigate the whole business securitization of Thames Water (OU), mapping corporate philanthropy and corporate-community engagement in East London (QMUL), and Young People's Participation in Tech City: Barriers and Opportunities (OU). I have worked extensively in research grant development and other academic-related projects, such as the OU’s Geography Matters platform.

Having trained as a wilderness expedition leader and educator at NOLS (USA), I have been fortunate to participate in professional and recreational climbing, mountaineering and sea-kayaking expeditions around the world. The 2012 RGS-IBG Neville Shulman Challenge Award enabled me to bring these skills together with my academic interests, for Hugging the Coast: an exploration by sea-kayak of liminal living in the Sangihe archipelago, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Other Interests

I am Principal Timpanist for the London-based Orchestra of the City and I read a great deal of science fiction.



‘God was a rotten plumber’: Common sense, moral economy and ‘financing water for all’ (2020)
Wadsley, Johanna
Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 38(4) (pp. 674-692)