WISERD Co-Director
Aberystwyth University

01970 622592

Michael Woods is Professor of Human Geography and Director of the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences. He joined IGES in 1996, having completed his first degree at the University of Wales, Lampeter, and his PhD at Bristol University. He became Acting Director of IGES in July 2007 and Director in September 2008. Michael’s main research interests lie in the fields of rural geography and political geography. He has been Co-Director of the Wales Rural Observatory (a collaborative venture with Cardiff University) since 2007, and is coordinator of a major European project on ‘Developing Europe’s Rural Regions in the Era of Globalization’ (DERREG). He is also collaborating with colleagues at the University of Queensland in Brisbane in research on ‘globally engaged’ farmers, and is convenor of the Environment and Tourism Thematic Group for the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD).

He was awarded the John Fraser Hart Award for Research Excellence in Rural Geography by the Association of American Geographers in 2010. Michael is a member of the Research, Innovation and Engagement Committee of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and of the National Training Advisory Group for Community and Town Councils in Wales. He is a former Chair of the Political Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG, and a former member of the Council of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers). His publications include three textbooks, Rural (Routledge, 2010), Rural Geography (Sage, 2005), and An Introduction to Political Geography (Routledge, 2004); the monograph, Contesting Rurality: Politics in the British Countryside (Ashgate, 2005); and an edited book, New Labour’s Countryside: Rural Policy in Britain since 1997 (Policy Press, 2008).

He is a member of the editorial boards for Dialogues in Human Geography and European Countryside. Michael Woods’s research interests address the broad fields of rural geography and sociology, political geography, economic geography and social geography, with a particular focus on the politics and dynamics of rural change.

His current and recent research falls primarily into four main areas: (i) The emergent ‘global countryside’ and the reconstitution of rural places under globalization, employing a relational analysis to understand the interplay of local and global actors and processes and human and non-human actants in reproducing and contesting globalization in the rural sphere; (ii) The ‘politics of the rural’, including local rural conflicts, the mobilization of rural social movements, and the contested articulation of the rural through policy discourse; (iii) Community governance, leadership and power relations, in both rural and urban settings, with a particular focus on town, parish and community councils in the UK; (iv) The social and economic restructuring of rural communities and regions, including population dynamics, service provision and economic development issues, with a particular focus on Wales. This last theme includes work through the Wales Rural Observatory and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD). Politics of the rural, including rural conflicts and rural social movements; community governance and participation; power structures and elites; the political representation of place, globalisation and rural localities.


Rural-Urban Outlooks: Unlocking Synergies (ROBUST)
Rural-Urban Outlooks: Unlocking Synergies (ROBUST) Link to the Robust Website: link Link to the CWPS/WISERD @ Aber website: link Centre for Welsh Politics and Society / WISERD@ Aberystwyth researchers are involved in a European study to investigate interactions between rural
Research Team:
Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University), Jesse Heley (Aberystwyth University)
Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe (IMAJINE)
The IMAJINE project (Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe) is one of the largest social sciences projects to be financed as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.The five-year project aims to come up with new policy
Research Team:
Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University), Rhys Jones (Aberystwyth University), Elin Royles (Aberystwyth University), Rhys Dafydd Jones (Aberystwyth University)
Centre For Welsh Politics And Society
The Centre for Welsh Politics and Society / WISERD@Aberystwyth aims to use research on Welsh politics and society, comparative studies of Wales and other nations and regions, and analyses of Wales’s global connections, to make internationally-significant cutting-edge
Research Team:
Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University), Jesse Heley (Aberystwyth University), Laura Jones (Aberystwyth University), Marc Welsh (Aberystwyth University), Taulant Guma (University of Edinburgh), Anwen Elias (Aberystwyth University), Elin Royles (Aberystwyth University), Rhys Jones (Aberystwyth University), Anthonia Onyeahialam (Aberystwyth University), Rhys Dafydd Jones (Aberystwyth University), Dyfan Powel (Aberystwyth University), Sophie Yarker (University of Manchester)
GLOBAL-RURAL
‘The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization (GLOBAL-RURAL)’ was a major research project funded by the European Research Council . The study aimed to advance our understanding of the workings and impact of globalization in rural regions through the
Research Team:
Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University), Jesse Heley (Aberystwyth University), Laura Jones (Aberystwyth University), Anthonia Onyeahialam (Aberystwyth University), Marc Welsh (Aberystwyth University), Fidel Budy (Aberystwyth University)
Redefining Local Civil Society in an Age of Global Inter-connectivity
Overview This project will explore how imaginaries and practices of local civil society have been stretched and reconfigured by global interconnectivities, including both the reorientation of local civil society activities around global issues and concerns, and participation
Research Team:
Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University), Jon Anderson (Cardiff University), Sophie Yarker (University of Manchester), Taulant Guma (University of Edinburgh)
Connected Communities: Older People's Connected Rural Lives
This project sought to problematise homogenising narratives of older people as predominately ‘static’ and ‘passive’, and therefore somehow less implicated in wider social and economic networks; perceptions compounded by the context of rural peripherality. While older people
Research Team:
Jesse Heley (Aberystwyth University), Laura Jones (Aberystwyth University), Suzie Watkin, Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University)
The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization
Overview ‘The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization (GLOBAL-RURAL)’ is a major research project funded by the European Research Council. The study aims to advance our understanding of the workings and impact of globalization in rural regions
Research Team:
Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University), Jesse Heley (Aberystwyth University), Laura Jones (Aberystwyth University), Anthonia Onyeahialam (Aberystwyth University), Rachel Vaughan, Marc Welsh (Aberystwyth University), Emily Strub
Storymap: The Making and Remaking of a Cane Countryside
This StoryMap is based on research for the GLOBAL-RURAL projected funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant at Aberystwyth University. Research was conducted in October and November 2014, with information sourced from the Factiva newspaper archive, and books,...
October 2017
Storymap: Diversity in an Irish Small Town
This StoryMap is based on research for the GLOBAL-RURAL projected funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant at Aberystwyth University. Interviews were conducted with community leaders, residents and migrants in Ballyhaunis in October 2015 and March 2017., with...
August 2017
Key Concepts in Rural Geography
Key Concepts in Rural Geography is a new kind of textbook that forms part of an innovative set of companion texts for the Human Geography sub-disciplines. Organized around 20 short essays, Key Concepts in Rural Geography provides a cutting edge introduction to the central...
October 2016
Journal and Journal Article
New Localities
During the mid-to-late 1980s, 'locality' was the spatial metaphor to describe and explain the shifting world of regional studies. The paper argues that the resulting 'localities debate' threw this baby out with the bathwater and rather than invent new concepts to capture...
Localities | November 2012
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Journal and Journal Article
New directions in rural studies?
This paper examines the local politics through which the reconstitution of rural localities under globalization is advanced and contested, with particular reference to the impact of international amenity migration. It contends that as globalization proceeds not by domination...
Localities | December 2011
Books and Book Chapters
Poles Apart? Migrant workers in Rural Wales
The book explores the changing relations between people, place and environment in rural Wales in the twenty first century and provides new understandings of rural geography and rural sociology. Mae'r gyfrol hon yn edrych ar y berthynas gyfnewidiol rhwng pobl, lle ac...
Inequalities | November 2011
Books and Book Chapters
Market towns in rural Wales: a differentiated geography
The book explores the changing relations between people, place and environment in rural Wales in the twenty first century and provides new understandings of rural geography and rural sociology. Mae'r gyfrol hon yn edrych ar y berthynas gyfnewidiol rhwng pobl, lle ac...
Localities | November 2011
Journal and Journal Article
Rural Geography III: Rural futures and the future of rural geography
Global concerns such as climate change and food security have focused renewed attention on the future of rural space. Although the direct engagement of rural geographers with climate change and food security has been limited to date, recent research in rural geography holds...
Localities | February 2011
Journal and Journal Article
Applied policy research and critical human geography
This paper discusses the relationship between applied policy research commissioned by the state and the development and maintenance of critical human geographies. In contrast with recent debates, which have centred on the relative status of human geography within policy...
Civil Society | January 2011
Books and Book Chapters
Policing rural protest
Policing reveals much about rural society. It refers to the way that the police, the public and other agencies regulate themselves and each other according to the dominant ideals of society. This can be formally, through the ever-growing spectrum of policing partnerships in...
Localities | December 2010
Books and Book Chapters
Rural
The division of ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ is one of the oldest ideas in Geography and is deeply engrained in our culture. Throughout history, the rural has been attributed with many meanings: as a source of food and energy; as a pristine wilderness, or as a bucolic idyll; as a...
Localities | October 2010
Journal and Journal Article
Performing Rurality and Practising Rural Geography
Recent research in rural geography has shown increasing interest in the ways in which rurality is performed and enacted by diverse actors. Rural geographers have also demonstrated increasing awareness of their own ‘performances’ as researchers, including their enactment of...
Localities | February 2010
Journal and Journal Article
Rural Geography: Blurring boundaries and making connections
A number of commentaries and articles have been published in recent years reflecting on the nature, history and practice of rural geography. The introspective mood follows a period in which rural geography has been widely considered to have been resurgent, but indicates...
Localities | December 2009
Books and Book Chapters
Rural Geography
Global concerns such as climate change and food security have focused renewed attention on the future of rural space. Although the direct engagement of rural geographers with climate change and food security has been limited to date, recent research in rural geography holds...
Localities | July 2009
Conference Changing Wales: WISERD at 10
17th October 2018 |
Cardiff
The Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) will be celebrating ten years of research that has helped address some of the key social challenges facing Wales on Wednesday 17 th October. This invitation only event...