Photo of Professor Clare Saunders

Professor Clare Saunders

Research Interests

My research interests are in social movements and protest and environmental sustainability from above and below. I am also interested in improving the teaching and learning of research methods in social sciences. Here are details of some of the projects I have been involved in:

POLPART: How Citizens Influence Politics and Why,  team leader for the UK case (€244,000). This project seeks to understand the multiple ways in which people participate in politics, and the nature of the issues that motivate them to do so. The UK case is part of a cross-national European Research Council Advanced Grant project run by Bert Klandermans (Amsterdam) €2.5m.

Doing TB Differently, funded by the ESRC (£200,000). This project explores the potential of deliberative forums to help create a more workable TB policy to blanket badger culling. I am principal investigator, working with Steve Hinchliffe (Geography), Robbie McDonald (ESI, Biosciences) and Stephan Price (RA).

Caught in the Act of Protest, funded by the European Science Foundation (£285,000 for UK case). I am lead for the UK case of this pan-European project, which involves systematically surveying large scale street protests across Europe. For more information about this, please see the project website

Making Methods Matter: Embedding Employability and Enhancing Experience, funded by the Higher Education Academy (£7,000). With colleagues at the University of Southampton, I have worked to improve research methods teaching by engaging students in real-world research with genuine stakeholders. I will be building on this work as key member of staff in the University of Exeter's Q-Step Centre. 

Community Based Initiatives in Energy Saving, funded by the RCUK Energy Programme (£945,000). I work as co-investigator with colleagues from the Universities of Southampton, Westminster and Reading, using a matched case controlled experiment to understand whether community based intiatives can deliver a net saving in household energy demand. See for more information.

Comparing Climate Policy Networks, funded by the US National Science Foundation (US$24,000 for the UK case). With collaborators in over 20 countries, we are using policy network analysis to understand whether advocacy networks are responsible for divergent climate change policies across nations. You can find out more about the Compon project from this link:

Democracy in Europe and the Mobilization of Society, EC-FP7 project. Between 2004-8, I worked with Christopher Rootes on the UK case of this project, which explored activists conceptions and practices of democracy. The project website can be found through this link:

Research Supervision

I would welcome applications from PhD students in any of the following areas:

* Social movements / protest

* Pro-environmental behaviour change

* Environmental discourses

* Climate change policy

I currently supervise one PhD student in the ESI, University of Exeter:

* Phillip Passmore: Understanding the relationship between newspaper coverage on climate change and public opinion.


I am currently external supervisor for two students at the University of Southampton:

* Gina Angelescu: Environmental citizenship in Europe: A longitudinal analysis

* Phil Waddel: Activists' use of social media