Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences (SPEHS)
Professor Cara Aitchison
Chair in Social and Environmental Justice
Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences (SPEHS)
Tel: +44 (0)131 651 6167
Location: Old Moray House
Professor Cara Aitchison is Head of Moray House School of Education and Chair in Social and Environmental Justice.
As Head of School Cara is responsible for the leadership and management of the School of Education comprising 245 permanent staff, approximately 150 additional staff and almost 3,000 students, including 120 PhD students.
Professor Aitchison is Chair of the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) Sub-Panel 26: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism and a member of the Main Panel for Social Sciences for REF 2014.
Prior to moving to Edinburgh in 2010 Professor Aitchison held the posts of:
- Dean of the Faculty of Education and Sport at the University of Bedfordshire where she was also Professor in Leisure and Tourism Studies and Director of the Institute for Sport and Physical Activity Research (2008-2010)
- Professor in Human Geography and Director of the Centre for Leisure, Tourism and Society at the University of the West of England, Bristol (2003-2008)
- Senior Research Fellow (1997-99), Reader (1999-2003) and Head (2001-2003) of the Leisure and Sport Research Unit at the University of Gloucestershire
- Lecturer (1989-90), Senior Lecturer (1990-93) and Principal Lecturer (1993-97) in Leisure and Tourism Studies at the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University)
- Tutor in Geography (part-time) for the Open University (1990-93)
- Lecturer in Leisure Studies at Croydon College (1988-1989).
Professor Aitchison's qualifications include:
- PhD in Social Science (Bristol University, 1999)
- MA in Gender and Society (University of Middlesex, 1993)
- Certificate in Education (Thames Polytechnic, 1990)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Recreation and Leisure Practice (CNAA, 1988)
- MA (Hons) in Geography (University of Edinburgh, 1987)
Professor Aitchison currently holds a number of national and international positions in education, sport and tourism including:
- Chair of the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) Sub-Panel 26: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism and member of the Main Panel for Social Sciences for REF 2014
- Chair of the National Reference Group and Member of the National Sub-Group for Career-Long Professional Learning in ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’
- Member of the joint Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) Commission for Rural Education
- Member of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Peer Review College
- Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Senior Fellow of the World Leisure Academy
- Associate Editor (Recreation and Leisure) for 'Annals of Tourism Research'
- Editorial Board Member of 'Contemporary Social Science'
- Editorial Board Member of 'Leisure Studies'
- Editorial Board Member of 'Journal of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise'
- Editorial Review Board Member of 'Annals of Leisure Research'
- Editorial Review Board Member of 'Equality, Inclusion and Diversity'
Professor Aitchison was previously:
- Member of the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) Sub-Panel for Sports-Related Studies
- Member of the AHRC Peer Review College (2004-2007)
- Chair of the Leisure Studies Association (2001-2004)
- Chair of World Leisure's Women and Gender Commission (2002-2008)
- Secretary of the Feminist and Women's Studies Association UK and Ireland (1998-2000)
Professor Aitchison is committed to the development of both original conceptual research and theory-informed applied research. Her research focusses on three overlapping themes that develop social responsibility and sustainability through education, leisure, sport and tourism:
- Social justice and participatory democracy
- Environmental sustainability and integrated rural development
- Global citizenship and international development
Cara is best known for her research on social justice in leisure, sport and tourism and particularly her work examining gender relations and published in Gender and Leisure: Social and Cultural Perspectives (Routledge, 2003), Sport and Gender Identities: Masculinities, Femininities and Sexualities (Routledge, 2007) and, with Peter Hopkins and Mei-Po Kwan, Geographies of Muslim Identities: Diapora, Gender and Belonging (Ashgate, 2007). She has also undertaken research into disability rights and inter-cultural relations in and through leisure, sport and tourism. With Professor Karla Henderson and Professor Heather Gibson (USA) she recently led an invited response to the UN Women and UNICEF Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities to inform policy developments beyond the 2015 Millennium Development Goals for the World We Want initiative.
Cara's research on environmental justice and sustainable development focuses on the integration of tourism and recreation with other sectors to develop sustainable rural economies. Her best known book in this field is Leisure and Tourism Landscapes: Social and Cultural Geographies, co-authored with Nicola Macleod and Stephen Shaw (Routledge, 2001). Over the last eight years she has been developing a body of research examining the integration of tourism, renewable energy and local food production in rural areas. She led the largest study to date of tourist attitudes to wind farms in England and Wales in 2004 and has undertaken extensive empirical research of wind energy and tourism at nine locations across England and Wales between 2004 and 2012. She has been an Expert Witness at Public Inquiries and Planning Appeals, recently submitted evidence to the Scottish Renewables Inquiry and was an invited speaker at the Scottish Tourism Alliance seminar Tourism and Wind Farms in 2012. Her research has been used to inform planning applications, decisions, appeals, public inquiries and a High Court ruling.
As Principal Investigator Cara has managed over 25 funded research projects including needs analyses, community consultations, feasibility studies, impact assessments, policy evaluation studies and research networks. These projects have been funded by the ESRC, British Academy and national, regional and local bodies in the public, commercial and third sectors including local authorities in England and Scotland, the Countryside Council for Wales, the Forestry Commission, renewable energy companies, national disability organisations including Arthritis Care and Scope and professional bodies in leisure and sport including the Institute for Sports, Parks and Leisure and the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation.
Professor Aitchison has supervised and examined over 20 PhD theses and welcomes enquiries from prospective PhD students. She has been principal supervisor to part-time and full-time UK and international students in four different universities and in the disciplines and subject areas of geography, sociology, culture, leisure, sport and tourism with topics such as tourism and rural development, gender and international tourism, gender and physical activity and sexuality and leisure space.
Professor Aitchison has presented invited keynotes to national and international conferences in sport, leisure, tourism and gender studies including the:
- European Association of Tourism and Leisure Education (ATLAS), Latvia (2011)
- International Sports Forum, Florianópolis, Brazil (2011)
- Leisure Studies Association, Southampton, UK (2011), Canterbury, UK (2009) and Luton, UK (2001)
- Council for Australian Tourism and Hospitality Education, Perth, Australia (2009)
- Association of Tourism in Higher Education, Liverpool, UK (2005)
- New Directions in Tourism Theory, University of California, Berkeley, USA (2005)
- Critical Tourism Studies, Dubrovnik, Croatia (2005)
- International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance and Islamic Federation of Muslim Women's Sports, Tehran, Iran (2003)
- National Olympic Committee of Iran and Women's Sport Federation of Iran, Tehran, Iran (2003)
- Higher Education Academy Subject Network Annual Conference: Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism, Bromsgrove, UK (2003)
- 1st National Congress on Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality, Tehran, Iran (2003)
- 5th National Congress on Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran (2003)
Current and recent research
Principal Investigator for:
- RES Ltd. (Renewable Energy Systems), Environmental statement and socio-economic impacts: the tourism impact of Garreg Lwyd Hill Wind Farm, Powys, Mid Wales (2012)
- RES Ltd. (Renewable Energy Systems), Tourism impact analysis: Llanbrynmair wind farm proposal, Powys, Mid Wales (2012)
- British Academy, Gender, sport and Muslim identities: human rights and responsibilities in the adoption, adaptation and contestation of Western leisure and sport policies by women’s organisations in Iran (current)
- RES Ltd. (Renewable Energy Systems), Tourism impact analysis: Bryn Llywelyn wind farm proposal, Carmarthenshire, South West Wales (2011)
- Your Energy Ltd., Tourism impacts of wind farms in Northumberland, including expert witness evidence and appearance at planning appeal into Moorsyde wind farm proposal, Northumberland (2009)
- East Lothian Council, Monitoring and evaluation of Performance Athletes in Schools Programme (2008-2009)
- Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Tourism, Inequality and Social Justice (2007-2009)
- Forestry Commission, A social and economic engagement strategy for the National Arboretum, Westonbirt, Gloucestershire (2006-2007)
- Devon Wind Power, Tourism impacts of wind farms in South West England, including expert witness evidence and appearance at public inquiry into Fullabrook Down wind farm proposal, North Devon (2006-2007)
Publications list for Professor Cara Aitchison
This article was published on Oct 18, 2012