School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Ruth Machen

Research Associate



Ruth is a research associate working for Prof Simin Davoudi on the LOCATE project and within the Global Urban Research Unit (GURU). Her main research interests involve political questions around hegemony, legitimacy, values, and exclusion in the context of climate change science-policy discourses.

Previous Life

Before returning to academia, Ruth spent seven years working in climate change and renewable energy policy in Northumberland – leading climate change and renewable energy policy in local government and Northumberland Strategic Partnership.

Work on Research Impact 

Ruth has a longstanding interest in fostering academic-policy collaboration - both as a practitioner and as an academic - particularly in ways that draw from critical theory to open up thinking space in shaping social policy. Most recently, she has been working with the School of Geography Politics and Sociology at Newcastle to support strategic planning around research impact towards REF2021.


My research focuses on science-policy interaction, particularly in the context of climate change. I am specifically interested in boundary work that constructs (or transgresses) what comes to be seen as possible and/or legitimate in processes of decision-making, and in questions of values within these boundary processes. This latter concern has opened up a series of theoretical questions around how values might be re-thought.

Research undertaken for my doctoral thesis examined climate science-policy boundary work in Scotland - specifically the way in which performing science-policy boundary work through the language of 'translation' shapes particular types of knowledge and forms of policy response. 

My current research agenda takes these interests forward by examining three specific intersections of science and policy knowledges that occur through processes of algorithmic thinking. This new research will explore a) constructions of value-orientated knowledge through climate modeling and scenario work b) circulations of value-orientated knowledge through algorithmic climate news reporting and, c) artificially intelligent learning of values through discursive exposure. Together these three themes will develop a research agenda that explores further the politics of possibility within climate change futures thinking and highlights the political need to pay greater attention to the values-orientation of discourses. 


I currently contribute to undergraduate teaching at Newcastle University on the Geography module GEO 3041 - Geographies of Commodities 

In the past I have contributed to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in the areas of: 

Level 1: Geographies of Crisis; Environment and Society; Integrated Geographical Research Methods

Level 2: Theory and Concepts, Social Research Methods

Level 3: Cities and Climate Change

Level 4: (Masters) Geographical Research Skills and Dissemination