School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Jane Midgley

Director of Research, Reader in Urban Social and Economic Practice



I am an interdisciplinary social scientist working across human geography and economic sociology.

Roles and Responsibilities

I am the School's Director of Research

I am the environmental planning pathway lead at Newcastle for the ESRC NINE Doctoral Training Partnership programme. 

 I act as personal tutor to students on the MSc Urban Planning programme. 


BA (Hons): Land Economy, University of Cambridge
MPhil: Land Economy, University of Cambridge
PhD: University of Newcastle upon Tyne, socio-economics/geography


Research Interests

My research has consistently explored the critical relationship between vulnerability, insecurity and responsibility in contemporary society, and how these concepts are ascribed, understood and practiced. There are two empirical foci to my work: (i) everyday care practices, underpinned by feminist ethics of care theory to critically consider what vulnerability, insecurity and responsibility mean for individuals focusing on food provisioning offers and their acceptance within community settings; and (ii) surplus food and food waste, here I focus on the transition of food to waste and actions taken to prevent this, and explore interplay between institutions, values and practices that inform this process, I particularly look at the work of industry and charitable actors in identifying and redistributing surplus food, and draw from socio-economic theory to explore the socio-technical arrangements of surplus and waste.  Throughout my research I bring together ethnographically grounded work in a variety of settings with critical policy analysis.

Recent projects: 

I have recently completed research funded by the ESRC and FSA ‘Making provisions: anticipating food emergencies and assembling the food system’, with my colleague Dr Andrew Donaldson.  This research examined how uncertain futures are made manageable both in the day-to-day running of the food system and in expectation of more exceptional circumstances. The project developed a critical understanding of the forms of anticipatory action that exist in the food system, how these are undertaken, who and what they involve and the ways in which they help create and stabilise the relationships that underpin the food system.

Postgraduate Supervision

Jane would welcome any postgraduate applications to study issues that with fit with her research interests.

Jane is currently supervising:

  • Montse Ferres 'Reconfiguring open spaces as workshops of cooperation in deprived areas' (ESRC funded, supervised with  Prof Tim Townshend)
  • Sebastian Prost 'Designing for food democracy with communities (EPSRC funded, Digital Civics CDT, supervised with Dr Clara Crivellaro, Open Lab and Dr Graeme Heron, Sheffield University)

 Completed students:

  • Duygu Okumus 'Rethinking rural transitions: the case of Bozcaada, Turkey' (awarded 2018)
  • Helen Coulson 'Ecologies of care: An ethnographic study of collective urban food gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland' (ESRC funded, awarded 2016)
  • Alan Hunt 'Civic engagement in food system governance: A comparative perspective on American and English local food movements' (Fulbright part-funded, awarded 2013) 
  • Elizabeth Brooks 'Are country towns sustainable for older people?' (ESRC/DCLG funded, awarded 2011)


ESRC IAA (2018) A recipe for success: exploring community building and impacts brought by a new community café. Read full end of project report.  

ESRC with FSA (2015-17, Co-Investigator) Making provisions: anticipating food emergences and assembling the food system.

Catherine Cookson Foundation (2011-12) Serving society? The role of soup kitchens and soup runs in urban social order 

Newcastle University HASS Faculty funding (2009-10) Exploring responses to household and community food insecurity

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2004-05) Socio-economics of the household
ESRC Postgraduate Studentship (open competition, 2000-03) Women's access to financial services in rural households

Industrial Relevance

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Undergraduate Teaching

TCP2027 Research Skills (module leader)

TCP3060 Food: space and polity (module leader)

TCP3099 Dissertation (supervisor)

Postgraduate Teaching

TCP89034 Planning and Sustainability (contributor - session on sustainable food planning)

TCP8911 Evaluation, Analysis and Research (contributor)

TCP8099 Dissertation (supervisor)