Professor Catherine Leyshon (nee Brace )
Associate Professor of Human Geography


Catherine is a human geographer whose work is unified by an interest in landscape, place, identty and socal relations in space. Most recently, Catherine’s research has followed two main strands looking at: i) social innovation and volunteering in place; and ii) landscape and climate change. 

Social Innovation and Volunteering in Place: Catherine's research asks how social innovation is linked to the particular configurations of people, energy, resources, agencies, and organisations in place. She also looks at the role of volunteers in social innovation. She is co-director of the Social Innovation Group (SIG), with Michael Leyshon. SIG research focuses on place-based, person-centred approaches to care, however broadly care is defined. The SIG team currently work on several EU-funded projects with Volunteer Cornwall, local housing associations, local GPs, the Eden Project, and other organisations in Cornwall and beyond. 

Landscape and climate change: this work focuses on and the particular challenges of managing culturally iconic and ecologically important landscapes through multi-agency working with different knowledge communities. Catherine works with Natural England, the National Trust and other organisations in the Linking the Lizard partnership. 

Catherine has extensive experience of working with research parterners and stakeholders including Natural England, the National Trust, the AONB partnership, Cornwall Council, Age UK, Volunteer Cornwall, NHS Kernow, and others. She has research collaborations with colleagues at the University of Hamburg and elsewhere in the EU.

Outside the department, Catherine is a member of the Partnership Board of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (2013-date) and a member of the Board of Trustees of Volunteer Cornwall (2012-date). Catherine is also an active member of the Linking the Lizard Countryside Partnership ( She was a contributor to WP 4 of the National Ecosystem Services Assessment Follow On.

Personal Interests

Catherine likes to run and she completed four half marathons and four marathons. In 2013, Catherine took up sea swimming and is trying to devise a means of zipping a hot water bottle into her wetsuit. When she is not running or swimming, Catherine enjoys baking cakes. Her particular specialisms are lemon drizzle cake and fruit cake but she has recently developed a recipe for salted caramel cupcakes that are life-changingly delicious. She also likes baking bread and trying new recipes. Catherine likes to read restaurant reviews, cook books, and novels. She has recently rediscovered her childhood love of Sci-Fi novels. In terms of superheros, Catherine is 100% Marvel, not DC. Catherine is especially vigilant about the misuse of apostrophes, having been converted to their proper use in her twenties. With the zeal of the converted, Catherine is also critical of the improper use of 'less' instead of 'fewer'. Catherine dislikes shopping, except for cooking ingredients.


MA (Toronto),
PhD (Bristol)


Catherine became interested in historical and cultural geography as an undergraduate and pursued this interest through an MA by research at the University of Toronto. In 1996 she was appointed as a Lecturer in Human Geography at Exeter. Catherine completed her PhD thesis on "Finding England Everywhere: Representations of the Cotswolds 1880-1950" during her first year as a lecturer and has since developed lines of inquiry from her PhD work. Her research is unified by an interest in landscape, place, and identity. She has researched landscape, national identity and regional identity; geography and film; geography and literature; geography and religion; cultural landscapes and climate change; and cultural ecosystem services; volunteering and resilient communities; place-based, person-centred approaches to care.

Contact details

Tel+44 (0) 1326 371810
AddressPeter Lanyon Building
University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
Treliever Road
TR10 9FE
Office hours


Term 1: Monday 1.15-2.15 and Tuesday 4-5.

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