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.