Dr. Ruth Littles career is thriving at the University of Sheffield

Dr. Ruth Little's career is thriving at the University of Sheffield

 May 09, 2019

Dr. Ruth Little is a Lecturer for the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield and also works for the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to inform evidence-based policy around her key areas of interest: animal health and welfare, and how payments to farmers will change following Brexit.

Ruth shares insight into her human geography career, specialising in agriculture, food and the environment.  

Recieving a grant to undertake important agriculture work

Ruth describes herself as a social scientist and her role in Defra has been to assist policy makers to use social scientific research to inform their decision-making and to find ways to enhance the role of the public in creating effective policies in the real world.

Ruth was awarded a grant to look at how Brexit will affect agriculture in the UK. This project enables Ruth - alongside colleagues at York University and University of East Anglia – to track and understand the implications of leaving the EU for UK farmers.

She explains: "Under the EU, farmers are given payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) based upon the amount of land that they farm – this is the EU’s largest single item of expenditure, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the total EU budget. Under the new post-Brexit system, the UK government proposes to continue to provide these payments based upon the ‘public goods’ that can be generated on farms (mainly environmental benefits that may include enhanced biodiversity, improved air and water quality etc).

"Agriculture is a big part of our landscape and so this could involve a potentially radical change in the management of 72 per cent of the UK’s land. We will be working with Defra and other key organisations to understand what these changes might be and how the people who will be most affected by these changes can help to design these new policies."

Feeling motivated by fast-moving research 

When asked what inspires her to get out of bed every morning, Ruth says: "I work on an incredibly interesting and fast-moving area of research. Whilst Brexit may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the transformations that will result for our EU exit will be wide-ranging, particularly for agriculture. As well as being a research interest, I also grew up on a farm so the changes for farming communities and agricultural landscapes will be fascinating to track from a professional as well as personal perspective."

Delivering research-led teaching to students 

In her role at The University of Sheffield, Ruth prides herself on delivering research-led teaching. She adds: "I am really looking forward to incorporating key findings from our Brexit project into teaching at all levels, ranging from first year courses on environmental geography through to third year and Masters level courses that encourage students to critically engage with current debates on the geopolitics of environmental change, food and sustainability."

Join talented women like Ruth at the University of Sheffield

There are many opportunities for strong candidates in a host of academic and support roles at the University of Sheffield. Search and apply for exciting and challenging jobs today.


Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

Share this page:

Join our women's careers community