Sustainable Consumption Institute

Materialising sustain
abilities, re-imagining futures

The SCI Festival celebrates over a decade of cutting edge research and launches our new research agenda.

Photograph of sea waves

At the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) we are celebrating a decade of existence with the launch of a new research agenda that will deepen and extend our thinking about the urgent socio-technical and political challenges of our time.

Join us on Thursday, 5 December 2019 at the Alliance Manchester Business School, Booth Street West, Manchester M15 6PB.

Photograph of man teaching children to ride a bike. Photo by San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (Creative Commons)
'Learning to ride'. Photo by San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (Creative Commons)

The new research agenda will be presented at the Festival 'Materialising Sustainabilities, Re-imagining Futures', a half-day event that will combine talks from the SCI academic team as well as business, entrepreneurs, policy makers and social activists representatives. 

The new research agenda takes a critical perspective on sustainability in the face of growing social inequalities, and documents the SCI’s ambition to engage and respond to the current societal challenges with our expertise, now more valuable than ever. 

Founded at the University of Manchester to bridge the fields of sociology of consumption and innovation studies, the SCI has provided unique contributions to these fields and is a well-recognised critical voice on the role of consumption as a key force in shaping the transition to a more just and sustainable society. 

Today, the SCI is a key contributor to the University of Manchester’s aim to excel in research that combines the insight of different academic disciplines such as sociology, human geography and urban studies, business and management studies, environmental politics, social movement and innovation studies as a basis for research that illuminates the ways in which consumption practices play a key role in shaping societal responses to questions of sustainable development.

Two men help build a home from recycled materials in Malawi. Photo by Jenny Parkins. Creative Commons.
Two men help build a home from recycled materials in Malawi. Photo by Jenny Parkins (Creative Commons).

Pressing issues such as climate change, accumulation of plastic in the world’s oceans, and unequal access to sustainable products and services require the imagination to re-invent our shared future, and then do the hard work of materialising these futures so they deliver on the need to be more ecologically and socially sustainable. 

Regional authorities like the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, business firms partnering with NGOs, such as Tesco Plc. and WWF, as well as regional, national and international governments, but also social movements that seek radical socio-ecological change are already articulating vibrant narratives to re-imagine the future. 

‚ÄčIn our research we critically study and facilitate the process through which futures are re-imagined by business, government and social movements. The process of re-imagining is a key part in the process of change, as it delimits what sorts of concrete options (policies, technologies, etc) are available, and perhaps as importantly, who is to be included and excluded in the decision-making processes. 

This Festival is an open invitation to citizens, politicians, fellow researchers, policy makers, CEOs, and NGOs to join us in collaborations to help re-imagine futures and materialise sustainabilities.

Keynote speakers

Corin Bell

Photograph of Corin Bell for SCI Festival web content

Founder and Director of social enterprise Open Kitchen MCR (formerly Real Junk Food Manchester). Areas of work include food waste, social inclusion, plastic free / waste reduction, and more general work around sustainability.

“I am fascinated by ideas around gift economy and moving beyond our current money economics to place more value on people, their time and effort.”- Corin Bell

Magid Magid (to be confirmed)

Photograph of Majid Majid

Magid, who came to the UK aged five as a refugee from Burao in northern Somalia (now in Somaliland), is an activist and politician.  He was the first ethnic Somali, the youngest-ever, and the first Green Party councillor to hold the role, and spent 12 months as deputy lord mayor. He studied zoology and marine biology at the University of Hull, becoming the president of the student union. At 28, he was the youngest person ever to hold the ceremonial title of Lord Mayor of Sheffield and served on this capacity from May 2018 to May 2019. In May 2019, he was elected to the European Parliament as Green Party MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.

“Together, we can turn the tides of history.” - Magid Magid

Euan Mills

Photograph of Euan Mills for SCI Festival web content

Euan Mills is Head of Digital Planning at Future Cities Catapult. Euan is an Urban Designer with 16 years’ experience working in the built environment industry. He spent 6 years providing design advice to the Mayor of London and his planning team, and contributed towards a number of key planning policy and research documents. Before this he worked at Urban Initiatives developing master plans and regeneration strategies for public and private sector. Euan has also set up the Chatsworth Road Neighbourhood Forum and Traders and Residents Association.

Martine Postma

Photograph of Martine Postma for SCI Festival web content

Martine Postma is a Dutch environmentalist and former journalist, best known for creating the concept of Repair Café. She organised the first Repair Café in Amsterdam in 2009 and has been spreading the concept worldwide ever since.Today, there are over 1900 Repair Cafés, in 35 countries, spread over six continents, this truly is a global movement. In 2018, the combined efforts of Repair Cafés around the world managed to save an estimated 350,000 kilos of waste from landfills.

“If something is broken, the first reaction should be: this should be mended.”- Martine Postma

Academic speakers

Professor Frank Boons

Photograph of Professor Frank Boons

Frank Boons is professor of Innovation and Sustainability and Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute. His research focuses on the social processes through which practices of production and consumption change as a result of technological change, in particular in relation to the circular economy and sustainable business models. With Andrew McMeekin, he edited the Handbook of Sustainable Innovation. In addition, he is associate editor of the Journal of Industrial Ecology and sits on the editorial board of Business Strategy and the Environment and Journal of Cleaner Production. 

Dr Michael Hodson

Photograph of Dr Michael Hodson

Mike is Senior Research Fellow in the Sustainable Consumption Institute and the Alliance Manchester Business School. His research agenda is at the interface of three issues: the shape of future sustainable cities, transitions in urban infrastructures and the forms of urban governance this draws on. He has published and presented widely on this agenda for academic and policy audiences. His current research addresses the implications of digital platforms for the shape of urban infrastructure systems, governance and space.

Dr Helen Holmes

Photograph of Dr Helen Holmes

Helen is a Research Fellow at the Sustainable Consumption Institute/Sociology Department at The University of Manchester.  Her work explores materiality and consumption focusing on the lived everyday relationships we have with objects.  Recent projects include a three year fellowship investigating contemporary forms of thrift and  a current study exploring lost property, and the potency of absent objects.  She has publications in leading journals including: Sociology; The Sociological Review; Work, Employment and Society; and Geoforum.

Dr Julia Kasmire

Photograph of Dr Julia Kasmire

Contrary to all literary expectations, Julia Kasmire was born on a warm and dry evening instead of a dark and stormy night, although that evening was the reasonably spooky holiday of Halloween. Since being born, she has embarked on a meandering research path through several disciplines (from linguistics to cognitive evolution and from infrastructure adaptation to industrial regeneration) as well as through several countries (from the USA to Spain, Scotland, the Netherlands and finally England). All of this means that she can speak to researchers from a range of backgrounds, but that her odd accent will distract any researchers who do speak to her. She has recently begun exploring how to use new forms of data for social science and how to use comedy for scientific impact.


Twitter: @JKasmireComplex

Dr Sherilyn MacGregor

Photograph of Sherilyn MacGregor

Sherilyn MacGregor is a Canadian environmental social scientist with a twenty year career of teaching and writing on the political dimensions of unsustainability and the quest for more just and sustainable societies. Based in the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester UK, her research looks at how social inequalities and differences shape people’s perceptions and experiences of, as well as their responses to, the ecological and climate crises. She is best known for her work that explores socio-environmental questions from a critical eco-feminist perspective. Her most recent book project is The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment (2017); other recently published work appears in The Conversation, Hypatia, and International Journal of the Commons.

Professor Andrew McMeekin

Photograph of Andrew McMeekin

Andrew McMeekin is Professor of Innovation at the Alliance Manchester Business School and was Research Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute following 2013-2018. Between 2010 and 2013 he was Deputy Director of the ESRC, Scottish Government and Defra funded Sustainable Practices Research Group. His research interests focus on the study of innovation and social change, relating to sustainability transitions, consumption, emerging fields of science, technology and professional practice, and urbanisation. His work has published in leading academic journals and he is co-editor (with Boons) of the Handbook of Sustainable Innovation (2019, Elgar).

Professor Matthew Paterson

Photograph of Professor Matthew Paterson

Matthew is Professor of International Politics at The University of Manchester and Research Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute. His research focuses on the political economy of global environmental change. His publications include Global Warming and Global Politics (1996), Automobile Politics (2007), Climate Capitalism: global warming and the transformation of the global economy (with Peter Newell, 2010), and Transnational Climate Change Governance (with Harriet Bulkeley and eight others, Cambridge University Press 2014). He is currently focused on the political economy and cultural politics of climate change, and starting to work on the networked character of global climate governance.

Professor Alan Warde

Photograph of Alan Warde

Alan is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at The University of Manchester, and a Professorial Fellow of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI). Research interests are wide but recently have concerned the sociology of consumption, the sociology of culture, and the sociology of food and eating in the context of issues of sustainability. Recent publications include: Consumption: a sociological analysis and The Practice of Eating.


The festival will be followed by a networking reception with vegan and vegetarian food and vegan and Fairtrade drinks.  Further details to follow soon.