Showing articles associated with JC Niala

JC Niala is a DPhil Student at St Catherine's College.

Main areas of interest/ expertise

JC is a doctoral researcher with an interest in how people’s imaginations of nature, affects the environment. With a focus on urban practice, she has expertise in food sovereignty projects including starting a successful organic farm in an informal settlement in Kibera, Nairobi. JC has used verbatim theatre as a tool for community engagement with both adaptation and mitigation strategies for dealing with climate change. She is currently carrying out an ethnographic project researching urban gardeners across allotment sites in Oxford. 

Why is Oxford a good place to work in research related to environmental challenges?

A key aspect of dealing with environmental challenges is behavioural change and yet most of the solutions being explored are technological. Oxford recognises the important contribution that social sciences and the humanities can make towards understanding human interaction with the environment. The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) is an incredible centre that brings together people across disciplines allowing for collaborations to occur in a way that is both dynamic and flexible. Researchers at Oxford are keen to support each other.

What is the biggest environmental challenge facing the planet right now?

As an urbanist I think it is how to make cities sustainable. Currently 55% of the world lives in urban areas and this is projected to grow to 68% in the next 30 years. If we can make cities environmentally sound places to live, then it also gives the rest of the planet an opportunity to regain an ecological balance. Most of the world’s cities were not conceived of as places that would sustain the number of people that live there now.

Despite the challenges, are you optimistic about our future?  

Yes. My hope comes from progress I see on the ground. Already, 15-20% of the world’s food is produced in cities. This is a figure that is a lot higher than most people realise. When there is greater knowledge about what is possible, it encourages people to take action that they otherwise thought was futile.

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JC Niala