Dr Luke ParryReader in Environmental Social Science
Luke is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose current research focuses on health inequities and disasters. He has a long-term interest in identifying pathways towards socially-just and sustainable futures for tropical forest regions, particularly the Amazon. Luke became a Reader in the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) in 2022. He was a Senior Lecturer in the department between 2017 and 2021 and a Lecturer from 2012. Luke was an ESRC Future Research Leader Fellow between 2014 to early 2017.
His research program makes links between political ecology (particularly of health), food systems, urbanization and climatic change. He uses mainly quantitative approaches and seeks to ask and answer policy-relevant questions. Luke has been working in, and learning about, the social, health, environmental and political dimensions of tropical forests since 2002.
Luke is the Lead Principal Investigator of a new project (2022 until 2025), Forest citizenship for disaster resilence: learning from COVID-19. Funded by the Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP) for the Social Sciences and Humanities, specifically the ESRC (UK), NSF (USA) and FAPESP (São Paulo, Brazil). The ESRC-funded UK team includes James Fraser (also in LEC, Lancaster) and Andreza Souza Santos (Global & Area Studies, Oxford Uni). The UK-Brazil-USA researchers aim to: (1) quantify linkages between forest citizenship and COVID-19 resilience; (2) understand practices of forest citizenship in relation to COVID-19 experiences; and (3) understand and disseminate learning on conditions for promoting forest citizenship and enhancing disaster resilience across Amazonia.
Luke's current research also examines the relationships between social inequities, health and exogenous shocks/stressors. For example, his 2021 paper in Nature Sustainability shows that prenatal exposure to rainfall extremes in Amazonia is associated with preterm birth, restricted fetal growth and lower birth-weight. Reflecting deep social inequities, the children of Amerindian and adolescent mothers are worse affected. Another paper in Social Science and Medicine draws on the concept of 'invisibility' to explore systematic biases in current understanding of climate-health risks in Latin America. His empirical research is based around:
(1) Vulnerability to climate change, including understanding linkages between social vulnerability, climatic shocks, and health. Working with Gemma Davies, he identified ‘food deserts’ in Amazonian cities and also developed a bottom-up Citizens Network to explore (and strengthen) the political and social dimensions of living with environmental change in remote, river-dependent places. His research aims to contribute to improving the adaptive capacity of 'neglected' road-less Amazonian cities to cope with severe climatic events, especially among vulnerable social groups. His team is working on the spatial dimensions of urban food insecurity (with Erick Chacon-Montalvan). Previously, he was Principal Investigator of an ESRC-funded project on "Amazonian cities and extreme hydro-climatic events: research to reduce vulnerability".
(2) Poverty and development in forests under change. For instance, collaborative research addressing the social dimensions of environmental change in Amazonia (e.g. capability failures and corrosive disadvantage, connection with nature, peasant livelihoods, deforestation and agricultural land-uses, fire risks and poverty). This work also includes understanding the relationships between environmental change and human welfare in the semi-arid Caatinga social-ecological system in the North-East of Brazil. Led by Felipe Melo from the Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil. See their recent paper in Nature Sustainability on adding forests to the water-energy-food nexus.
(3) Wildlife harvest in tropical forests. Particularly, harvesting and consumption of bushmeat and fishes by rural and urban populations, linking normative perspectives on human health and dignity (in relation to food insecurity and malnutrition), local ecological knowledge and conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems. For instance, our 2022 paper in Scientific Reports shows that eating wildmeat may protect the most vulnerable rural children in Amazonia from iron-deficiency anemia. Luke's wildmeat research also relates to questions around space and place (contextual-understanding and urban defaunation shadows), trade, social relations, livelihoods and migration-decisions by individuals and households. Related, Luke is also an Editor of the journal Conservation Letters.
Luke and his postgraduate research students are part of the Political Ecology group in the Lancaster Environment Centre.
Luke’s teaching primarily contributes to LEC’s geography courses and includes:
LEC.333: Geographies of Health: understanding and tackling inequality
LEC 322 Environment, Society and Politics in Amazonia (taught with James Fraser & Jos Barlow) - his sessions focus on population-environment relationships (especially under rural exodus and urbanization), resilience, dams and claiming emergencies.
LEC330 Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Brazilian Amazon [field-course to the Rio Negro in Amazonas State, with Jos Barlow) [not running for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19]
- LEC.203. Human Geography Methods (workshops)
LEC342 Issues in Conservation Biology
PhD Supervision Interests
I welcome interest from potential Masters by research or PhD students interested in these or related topics:
Projects taking a quantitative perspective on the political ecologies of health
Developing new tools for assessing local-scale healthcare access and quality in the Global South
Assessing impacts of Amazonian floods and droughts on maternal and infant health
Understanding the vulnerabilities of marginalized peri-urban, flood-prone communities in Amazonia
New approaches for understanding social vulnerability to climatic extremes
DSI: FORest CiTizenship for disaster rEsilence: learning from COVID-19 (FORTE)
01/04/2022 → 30/04/2025
Identifying seeds of transformational change in Amazonia
01/04/2021 → 31/03/2022
Effects of climate change on forest security and sustainability in the Caatinga (Brazil)
01/01/2021 → 31/12/2023
Forest, water, energy and food security in the Brazilian dry forests
01/01/2018 → 31/12/2021
ODYSSEA: Observatory of the Dynamics of Interactions Between Societies and Environment in the Amazon
01/01/2016 → 31/12/2019
Risks and adaptation to extreme climate events by Estuarine and riverine populations in the Brazilian Amazon
02/12/2015 → 02/12/2015
Amazonian Cities and Extreme Hydro-Climatic Events: Research to Reduce Vulnerability and Build Resilience
01/01/2015 → 30/09/2016
Predicting urban food insecurity under climate change in Brazilian Amazonia
01/01/2014 → 31/12/2017
- DSI - Health
- Improving global stewardship
- Political Ecology
- Understanding a changing planet