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


Research projects

Social Innovation Group - SIG

Catherine Leyshon is the co-director of the Social Innovation Group. Our work focuses on social innovation at every scale, from the individual in communities to big organisations. We work across different sectors, including health and social care, housing, employment and the environment. Our project partners include Volunteer Cornwall, the Voluntary Sector Forum, several housing associations, and charities devoted to supporting people in communities. Visit our website:


VICTOR stands for Volunteers In Communities: Training, Organisation and Retention. Catherine is working with Michael Leyshon (Geography, Penryn), Age UK, Volunteer Cornwall, NHS Kernow and other partners on the role of volunteers in the co-production and delivery of a range of services including health and social care for the elderly in Cornwall. Visit our website:

Managing Cultural and Natural Landscapes

Building on work that has been ongoing since 2009, Catherine has been exploring the management of cultural and natural landscapes, focused on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, UK. Catherine works with Natural England and other agencies in the Linking the Lizard Countryside Partnership to explore i) the envisioning of climate impacts on landscape and the development of environmental knowledge; ii) the challenges of multi-agency working with different knowledge communities; iii) the various conceptual approaches to landscape management including the Ecosystem Services approach, the Ecological Network Approach, Landscape and Seascape Characterisation (both natural and historical). Catherine is a regular contributor to the blog of the Linking the Lizard Countryside Partnership:  

Catherine also collaborates in research on coastal change, landscape management, cultural heritage, landscape, and identity with colleagues at the University of Hamburg.

Geographies of Religion
Catherine has worked with Dr David Harvey and Dr Adrian Bailey on a project entitled "Geographies of Religion: The role of Methodism in Cornish cultures, c.1830-1930" which examines the influence of Methodism in the formation of communal identities during the 19th and early 20th centuries in Cornwall. Drawing from existing literature on the geographies of religion, this project seeks to understand the dynamics of place-based identities and the role of Methodist religion (both formal and informal) in the construction and historical development of communities in Cornwall. This work was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and has been published widely (see publication list).

Understanding Landscape
Catherine has recently completed a project funded by the AHRC under their Landscape and Environment Programme on Understanding Landscape. This Networks and Workshops programmes starts from the view that, traditionally, geographers have been interested in landscape but have not been very successful in understanding how people create a sense of place and attachment to landscape through literature. When literary scholars, on the other hand, study literature and landscape, they tend to do this in abstract or purely theoretical terms. They also focus on published novelists and poets and have not traditionally paid attention to ordinary, real people who express their identities in part through writing about themselves and their everyday lives. A series of workshops and conferences explored these issues. 

Geography and Film
Catherine has worked with Dr Michael Leyshon on geography and film, looking in particular at deviant ruralities. They have also produced work on British War film. See publications list for more details.

Research grants

  • 2016 Reading Agency
    The research is a small qualitative study evaluating the attitudes and perceptions held by users of the Adult Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme available through public libraries across England. The research will also examine the potential to involve community based volunteers in supporting people to engage and use books on the scheme and activate wider community support.
  • 2016 ESRC Impact Acceleration Award
    This Impact Cultivation Award will fund a focused two-day workshop with project partners, to: 1. Explore the knowledge and capacity-building needs of UK-based environmental charities, such as the RSPB and the WWT, for enabling and promoting inclusive onsite sensory, physical, social and intellectual experiences in nature-based settings for people living with visual impairment (Day 1). 2. Examine how these charities can best realise and evidence the social and economic benefits of promoting these socially inclusive multisensory nature experiences (Day 2).
  • 2016 European Regional Development Fund
    SMARTLINE is a research and innovation project aimed at supporting the growth of eHealth and eWellbeing of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Cornwall through the identification and support for products, processes and services that will improved the health and wellbeing of social housing tenants and build the cohesion of their communities. This is a partnership project involving the University of Exeter, Coastline Housing, Volunteer Cornwall and Cornwall Council.
  • 2009 ESF
    From climate to landscape - imagining the future


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