Centre for Rural Economy

Staff Profile

Professor Mark Reed

Prof of Socio-Technical Innovation


I am a Professor of Social Innovation at Newcastle University, in a HEFCE funded Chair as part of N8 AgriFood. I am based at the Institute for Agri-Food Research & Innovation and the Centre for Rural Economy in the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, where I am Director of Impact and Engagement . I am a Visiting Professor at University of Leeds and Birmingham City University. I am Research Manager for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme. I run a spin-out company, based on my research, training researchers how to embed impact in their research at: www.fasttrackimpact.com

I graduated in 1997 and 1999 with a BSc (hons) Tropical Environmental Science and a MSc Agroforestry from the University of Aberdeen. I got my Post Graduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education in 2004 and my PhD in 2005 from the University of Leeds. I moved to the University of Aberdeen as a Senior Lecturer in 2009, where I became Director of the Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability, before moving to Birmingham City University as a Reader in 2012. I was made a Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Research in 2013, and was responsible for leading my School's submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

I have played a leadership role in research worth over £20M, and played a significant role in teams that secured a further £14M since 2005. I am an author/co-author of >130 publications with >150 co-authors from 25 countries, including  >80 peer-reviewed international journal articles. My H index is >46 according to Google Scholar (>30 according to Scopus based on journal papers only) - for full details of citations see my Google Scholar profile. My papers have been cited >11,000 times. 

I am Handling Editor (Social Sciences) for Conservation Biology (impact factor 4.2; ranked 5/44 (Biodiversity Conservation) and 16/223 (Environmental Sciences) by ISI). I have acted as a scientific advisor to BBC Education and my work has been covered by the Guardian, Radio 4, Radio Scotland and international media.

In 2008, I became the first UK researcher to be awarded a joint fellowship by the US Social Science Research Council and ESRC. In  2009 I was awarded the ESRC’s Michael Young Prize, “rewarding the very best early career social scientists whose research has the potential to make a positive and far-reaching impact beyond academia”. In 2010, I was invited as a lead author on the “Socio-Economic and Knowledge Management” Working Group to provide a synthesis of current research and make recommendations in a keynote talk to the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and my work was highlighted in the Committee of Science and Technology's report to the Conference of the parties (CCD/COP(9)/CST/INF.3). In 2014, I was invited by the United Nations to write an impulse report to help guide the development of the next operational plan for the UNCCD (which was published as published as a book by Routledge). I was invited as a co-ordinating author to write a CGIAR working paper that fed into the UNCCD's first Global Land Outlook. I was nominated by UNCCD and consulted by UK Government and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to scope the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land.

The Sustainable Uplands project (that I co-ordinated from 2005-2012) was voted “best example of impact” at the Rural Economy and Land Use programme’s final conference in 2011 – one of only two projects receiving awards out of over 100 investments. This led to the development of the UK Peatland Code, in collaboration with the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, which I launched with Defra's Environment Minister in 2013. I now sit on the Steering Group for the Code, which represents Defra and its agencies, each of the devolved administrations and their agencies, landowners and business. Defra's Deputy Director of Sustainable Land and Rural Evidence and Analysis said "this research has made a considerable contribution and provided us with valuable lessons for the development of Payment for Ecosystem Service schemes in the UK." The work was also shortlisted as a finalist for the European Union's Natura 2000 award in 2015, with Inger Andersen, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, describing the work as "incredible - it has really moved the needle for conservation."

In 2014 I was invited by Defra to sit on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) Nomination Review Panel to select experts to deliver the IPBES work programme. In 2016, I became a contributing author on the IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration report. I was invited to sit on the scientific evaluation committee to review funding proposals for EU's Biodiversa programme in 2014. I also advised Scottish Government on research needs for the delivery of their Peatland Plan for Scotland in 2014. I was invited by the UK Government’s Joint Nature Conservation Council to set social science research priorities for the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership’s Ecosystem Task Force. I was a contributing author to the upland chapter of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment and co-led the Shared Values Work Package for the follow-on to the National Ecosystem Assessment from 2013-2014. I was on the Roster of Experts in the second phase of DEFRA's Ecosystem Markets Taskforce. I sit on the British Ecological Society's Brexit Working Group and Northumbria Water's Water Forum. 

I helped lead the development of Knowledge Exchange Guidelines for RCUK’s Living with Environmental Change partnership, and was contracted by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to develop similar guidelines for the EU Biodiversa programme. In 2014, I was commissioned by Scottish Government as part of a team evaluating the impact of research conducted by their Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) and Main Research Providers. Since 2011, I have been a member of the Programme Advisory Group for NERC’s Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability programme. In 2016, I was invited by BBSRC to evaluate the UK Research Councils' Insect Pollinator Initiative. In 2015 I launched a successful spin-out company, Fast Track Impact, training researchers around the world based on evidence from my research. In 2016, Fast Track Impact was shortlisted as a finalist in the ARMA awards under the impact category. 

I have been a member of funding panels for ESRC, NERC, BBSRC, Global Challenges Research Fund and the EU Biodiversa programme and have reviewed proposals for the British Academy, Leverhulme, and for Dutch, Austrian, German, Swedish, South African and Swiss research funders.


I am a transdisciplinary researcher specialising in social innovation, research impact and stakeholder participation in agri-food systems. Specific areas of expertise include:

Knowledge exchange (aka. transfer, management, mobilisation) for impact:

  • Co-production of knowledge

  • Analysing pathways to impact (with a focus on the generation of new theory to understand how impacts from research are conceptualised, reported and perceived to contribute to rural policy and practice)

  • Eliciting and integrating different knowledges, including the study of local (aka. traditional, indigenous) knowledge

  • Boundary organisations and knowledge brokerage

  • Facilitation and the identification and management of power dynamics

  • Managing conflict in the natural environment


Stakeholder participation:

  • Stakeholder analysis (aka. mapping)

  • Participatory scenario development

  • Participatory monitoring and evaluation (with a focus on environmental indicators and citizen science)

  • Participatory (aka. mediated, dynamic systems) modelling

  • Deliberative processes and techniques

  • Cultural and shared values for the natural environment

  • Transdisciplinary research practices


Social innovation (in behaviours, technologies and social structures to support sustainable rural development)

  • Social learning

  • Socio-technical innovation and transitions management

  • Adaptive management

  • Social networks

  • Resilience and sustainable livelihoods in social-ecological systems

  • Novel environmental governance mechanisms based on collaborative management and new markets

  • Market-based policy instruments including Payments for Ecosystem Services


The rural environment 

  • Adapting to climate change in agri-food and rural systems

  • Environmental and rural land use management

  • Environmental governance in agri-food and rural systems

  • Balancing priorities in multi-functional landscapes

  • Food security, land use, conservation and agricultural policy

  • Ecosystem services and the Ecosystems Approach

  • ?Land degradation in drylands and desertification

  • Peatland management


Contested Environment (ACE8082) – module leader

Contemporary Countryside (ACE8050) - contributor

Academic and Professional Skills (ACE2066) - contributor