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04 Oct 2021

The Academy of Social Sciences has conferred Fellowships on Professor Jennifer Howard-Grenville (Fellow-Commoner at Trinity Hall), Professor Elisabete A Silva and Professor Bhaskar Vira, in recognition of their contribution to social science.

The Academy of Social Sciences is composed of individual Fellows, Learned Societies, and a number of affiliates who together form a community of around 90,000 social scientists. The Academy seeks to promote the social sciences in the United Kingdom for public benefit.

Jennifer Howard-Grenville is the Diageo Professor of Organisation Studies at the Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity Hall. An expert in qualitative research and organisational change, she explores how people and organisations generate and navigate change related to sustainability.

Over a period of twenty years, she has conducted in-depth studies into how people make meaningful change in companies from a variety of sectors, including semiconductor manufacturing, apparel, and oil and gas. Jennifer has taught extensively on management and sustainability topics at the Executive, MBA, EMBA, doctorate and undergraduate level. She serves as Deputy Editor at one of the field’s top journals, Academy of Management Journal.

In an effort to understand how businesses can adapt their actions and strategies to effectively meet the challenges of sustainability, Howard-Grenville’s research focuses on how people generate and navigate change within and beyond their organisations. She is a leading voice, through her writing and editorial work, in encouraging management and business scholarship that considers societal grand challenges, including sustainability. Reflecting her commitment to interdisciplinary understanding to drive change in these areas, Howard-Grenville is involved in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, Cambridge Zero, and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Howard-Grenville said: “I am delighted and honoured to be elected to the Fellowship. I am particularly grateful to the community of scholars in organisation studies and more widely in the social sciences who are working to contribute our collective knowledge to tackling some of the most urgent issues facing business and society. As someone with training across disciplines, it is especially heartening to see the increasing engagement of researchers across career stages with others outside their disciplinary boundaries, and to see the increasing importance of social science insights in decision making about global challenges.

Join Jennifer and other members of the Trinity Hall Entrepreneurs Network (THEN) on Monday 1 November for the climate change panel discussion, A Catalyst for Action: How innovation and the energy of entrepreneurship can be a powerful force against climate change.

Elisabete A Silva is Professor of Spatial Planning at the Department of Land Economy, Director of the Lab of Interdisciplinary Spatial Analysis (LISA), University of Cambridge, Senior Member of Robinson College and a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). She also lectures and is the course coordinator of ‘Urban and Environmental Planning I’ and ‘Spatial Analysis and Modelling.’

Silva’s research focuses on the application of new technologies to spatial planning, in particular city and metropolitan dynamic modelling through time. The LISA lab which she directs, is a Geographic Information Lab that brings together data, software and expertise for spatial analysis in Land Economy’s related subjects.

At present Silva is engaged in a €5 million EU-funded Horizon project called eMOTIONAL Cities. The project seeks to characterise urban health challenges and inequalities through investigating the interactions between people and urban spaces, with a view to enhancing citizens’ health. In particular, the project assesses our neurobiological signals which control our emotions and decision making, while we are interacting with urban environments. The research will lead to innovative eMOTIONAL city mapping that will be produced from spatial analysis on social and health data and neuroscience experiments. To do this, the project will draw on urban planning and design, neuroscience, data science and technology.

Silva said: “I am delighted that my work has been recognised by the Academy and feel that I would like to pay tribute to those that helped me during the past 30 years, including my PhD students, colleagues in research projects, former PhD supervisors, colleagues that mentored me and my family for all their support and love. I will use this recognition to promote the use of spatial analysis, modelling and planning in the social sciences.”

Bhaskar Vira is Head of the Department of Geography, Professor of Political Economy and a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College. He was Founding Director of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute. He is closely involved with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and the Global Food Security Interdisciplinary Research Centre. He also works with the Centre for Science and Policy, Cambridge Zero and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, and has contributed to multiple international science-policy panels.

Vira’s research crosses disciplinary boundaries, and spans the fields of political economy, development studies and environmental studies. His work examines the social, political and economic dimensions of natural resource management, and the relationship between natural ecosystems and human well-being.

Vira is currently leading a programme of research on agrarian change and rural transformations in India, as part of the GCRF TIGR2ESS project “Transforming India’s Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable Food Supplies” and is also convening a programme on Decent Work and Youth Livelihoods, which is hosted at the Department of Geography.

“I am truly honoured to receive this recognition by my peers and by the Academy of Social Sciences,” said Vira. “I am particularly grateful to generations of colleagues and students at the Department of Geography and at Fitzwilliam College, who have provided such a welcoming and nurturing environment, as well as to colleagues across the wider University, especially in the social sciences.

“It has been a privilege to work with research collaborators around the world, and their thinking and work has been a source of inspiration, for which I am very grateful. For someone who has been slightly disrespectful of disciplinary boundaries, this is also a recognition of the importance of the social sciences, and the role that they play in responding to contemporary global challenges.”

First published on the University of Cambridge website.

Image of Jennifer Howard-Grenville courtesy of the Cambridge Judge Business School.