Dr Valentine Seymour

Research Fellow
+44 (0)1483 683965
26 AD 03

Academic and research departments

Department of Sociology.


George Warren, Birgitta Carolina Maria Gatersleben, Harry Marshall, Valentine Iona Seymour (2024)Benefits, drawbacks, barriers, and drivers of working with other disciplines and stakeholders: ACCESS literature review report University of Surrey
George W. Warren, Birgitta Gatersleben, Valentine Seymour, Harry Marshall, Gerardo A. Torres Contreras (2024)Factors influencing Environmental Social Science inclusion in policy and practice University of Surrey

Advancing Capacity for Climate and Environment Social Science (ACCESS) is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project, which aims to champion and coordinate social science research, to build capacity and promote and enhance the value of environmental social science in research and practice to address key environmental challenges. ACCESS’s first step is to learn from the past experiences of social scientists in climate and environment training, research, policy and practice through various research activities. This report summarises the key findings of one of these activities: exploratory interviews with participants from academic, governmental and non-governmental sectors to explore the impact of UK-based Environmental Social Science (ESS) into policy and practice. Specifically, this report focuses on participants’ experiences of the factors hindering or enhancing the integration of ESS into policy and practice. The aim of this research is to provide evidence to promote greater inclusion of ESS into policy and practice by outlining the key factors influencing its impact. To achieve these wider project aims, findings presented here will be combined with evidence emerging from other activities conducted within the ACCESS project to inform a broader set of recommendations to enhance the inclusion of ESS into research, training and policy and practice. This is with the wider ACCESS goal of supporting and building capacity for ESS in the UK. Findings presented in this report, and subsequent reports of this nature, can be applicable for those working in academia, the government agencies (intermediates), non-governmental organisations, and the policy makers wanting to understand current and future ways in which UK-based ESS can be integrated into research, training, and policy and practice. It is important to note that perceptions of enhancing and hindering factors were collected through the interviews; assessing the extent of their reality in practice would require other observatory methods that were not undertaken in this study (see Newman, 2023).

Valentine Seymour, M. Xenitidou, L. Timotijevic, C.E. Elena Hodgkins, E. Ratcliffe, B. Gatersleben, N. Gilbert, C.R. Robert Jones (2024)Exploring perceptions of smart, modular living in the UK: a think aloud study, In: Behaviour & Information Technology Routledge

While there is growing interest in the design and deployment of smart and modular homes in the UK, there remain questions about the public’s readiness and willingness to live in them. Understanding what conditions prospective residents might place upon the decisions to live in such homes stands to improve their design, helping them to meet with the expectations, and requirements of their residents. Through direct interaction with a prototype of a smart and modular home within a university context, the current study investigated how people negotiate the prospect of smart and modular living, and the conditions they would place on doing so. The study explores the short observational experiences of 20 staff and students within a UK university context, using think aloud interviews. Findings indicate that whilst participants were able to identify the benefits of smart and modular homes, there were nuanced responses when they negotiated the challenges of living. Further, a framework of considerations and recommendations are presented which could support practitioners and policy makers in making more informed, citizen-led decisions on ways to adapt and improve these home solutions.

Birgitta Gatersleben, George William Warren, Valentine Seymour, Harry Marshall, Gerardo A. Torres Contreras (2024)What is Environmental Social Science? ACCESS interview report University of Surrey
Valentine Seymour, Betheney Willls, Paul Wilkin, Peter Burt, Ed Ikin, Philip C. Stevenson (2022)Incorporating citizen science to advance the Natural Capital approach, In: Ecosystem services54101419 Elsevier

There are several frameworks which have been developed to describe the Natural Capital assessment approach. However, some of these frameworks are not fully operational in practice, and there is no unified methodology. Furthermore, calls have been made to increase the public's awareness and understanding of Natural Capital issues. To address some of these limitations it has been suggested to incorporate citizen science methods, an approach which has been increasingly growing in the Natural Capital field. The purpose of this article is to present a framework within the context of UK environmental policy as a case study. It illustrates the practicalities and the potential of using citizen science and other forms of public engagement approaches within a pre-existing Natural Capital accounting framework. This article first reviews current UK Natural Capital assessment approaches, as well as the potential for including citizen science and public engagement approaches. Combining these approaches, the inclusion of citizen science within the Natural Capital assessment framework is explored through the development of a conceptual model. We argue that the inclusion of a citizen science approach, and other forms of public engagement within the Natural Capital assessment can support in gathering a multidimensional perspective on comprehensive Natural Capital assets, and ecosystem service benefits. Knowledge generated could then be implemented to support holistic decision-making for nature-based solutions.

Valentine Seymour, Maria Xenitidou, Lada Timotijevic, Charo Hodgkins, Eleanor Ratcliffe, Birgitta Gatersleben, Nigel Gilbert, Chris R. Jones (2022)Incorporating the Public Perspective into the Future Design of Smart Home Living’, In: HCI International 2022 Posters 24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII 2022) Proceedings, Part IIpp. 362-367 Springer International Publishing

User-Centred Design (UCD) researchers have been investigating smart homes for 20 years and have highlighted the approaches’ effectiveness in identifying the requirements of users. Despite the growing interest in smart homes, research has shown that its adoption remains low. This owes to the tendency for research to often use a technological-centred approach to improve a pre-existing product or tailor it to target users. Visions of smart homes may therefore not have been fully based on a clear understanding of users’ needs and sociotechnical issues of concern. Enabling the public to have a role in shaping the future of smart home technologies and related sociotechnical issues of concern in the early stages of the UCD process have been widely recommended. Specifically, there have been calls to engage the public in sharing responsibility for developing data privacy agreements, data governance frameworks, and effectively domesticating technologies into life and ‘home’ systems. This paper introduces the citizens’ jury method to enable the public to have a role in shaping the future of smart homes and related sociotechnical issues. This is an understudied area of research that would be considerably valuable for practitioners in the usability and smart technology sectors. Findings from this paper are based on a cross-section of UK citizens’, exploring their opinions on sociotechnical issues of data security, accessibility to and control over use of devices and technological appliances associated with smart homes. A set of recommendation are developed to provide guidance and suggested actions on approaching these issues in the future.

Ciara O'Flynn, Valentine Seymour, James Crawshaw, Thomas Parrott, Catriona Reeby, S. Ravi P. Silva (2021)The road to net zero: A case study of innovative technologies and policy changes used at a medium-sized university to achieve Czero by 2030, In: Sustainability (Basel, Switzerland)13(17) Mdpi

The need for the world to follow a more carbon-neutral path is clear, with growing evidence highlighting the existential threat posed by unregulated GHG emissions. Responsibility for achieving this does not only lie with policy makers but is shared with all stakeholders including governments, private sectors, charities and civil society as a whole. Several methodological approaches have been developed to set emission reduction targets, including the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). However, it is yet to be widely adopted, and as thought leaders in the field, universities must take a lead in its interpretation and application. This study is reported from the perspective of a UK university, which is adopting climate change considerations to facilitate achieving Czero by 2030 and will act as an exemplar case. We calculate baseline emissions, science-based reduction targets for different carbon emission reduction methods and options in terms of financing emission reduction pathways at present and in the future. The study outcomes show that incorporating a SBTi methodology can serve as insight into other medium-sized organisations and universities wishing to develop a net-zero pathway. These results have been summarised into a series of recommendations.

V. Seymour, M. Xenitidou, L. Timotijevic, C. E. Hodgkins, E. Ratcliffe, B. Gatersleben, N. Gilbert, C. R. Jones (2024)Public acceptance of smart home technologies in the UK: a citizens’ jury study, In: Journal of decision systems Taylor & Francis

Despite growing interest, public uptake of 'smart home technologies' in the UK remains low. Barriers for accepting and opting to use smart home technologies have been linked to various socio-technical issues, including data governance. Understanding barriers for accepting to use smart home technologies is therefore important for improving their future design. Equally, enabling the public to help shape design features of these technologies from evidence-informed and deliberative approaches is also important. However, this remains an understudied area. This article reports a UK study exploring public opinion towards smart home technologies, using a Citizens' Jury method. Findings indicate that whilst participants identified the benefits of smart home technologies, participants' data sharing intentions and practices are contingent upon the condition of trust in technology developers. Study outcomes could support practitioners and policymakers in making informed, citizen-led decisions about how to adapt existing data governance frameworks pertaining to smart home technologies.

Valentine Seymour (2022)Participatory Ideology: From Exclusion to Involvement, In: Voluntary sector review : an international journal of third sector research, policy and practice13(3)pp. 485-486 Policy Press
Valentine Seymour (2022)Civil Society through the Lifecourse, In: Voluntary sector review : an international journal of third sector research, policy and practice13(1)pp. 177-179 Policy Press
Valentine Seymour, Mike Wood (2022)Exploring Environmental Volunteers’ Perceptions of Health to Design a Health-Related Impact Measurement Tool, In: Journal of applied social science16(1)pp. 223-241

This article aims to explore the use of the user-centered design (UCD) method, mental model approach, of those who engage in environmental volunteering to work toward the development of a health-related impact measurement tool. It reports a case study which explores the use of one UCD method, a mental model approach. This is an understudied area of research that would be considerably valuable for practitioners in the voluntary sector who wish to create their own health-related impact measurement tool. Focus group interviews are used to explore how volunteers perceive the term health, their conceptual understandings, terminology used, and the attributes to measure it. This study is reported from the perspective of U.K. environmental charity, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV). Findings from this article can be used by other voluntary organizations and charities to help shape their own health-related impact measurement tool and the ways in which these tools can be tailored to suit their individual needs.

Valentine Seymour, Mike King, Roberta Antonaci (2020)Exploring those characteristics which may help to foster and support people's social-ecological resilience: an environmental volunteering case study, In: Journal of environmental studies and sciences10(4)438pp. 438-456 Springer Nature

Engaging in environmental community-based practices such as environmental volunteering has been shown to offer a range of benefits, including social connectivity. There has been a growth in studies exploring the potential impact of people engaging in environmental community-based practices has on the resilience of social-ecological systems. However, these studies have not fully explored those characteristics environmental volunteering groups undertake which can help to promote and support the resilience of social-ecological systems. This study provides further understanding about social-ecological resilience and examines how environmental volunteering has the potential to promote and strengthen the resilience of social-ecological systems. This is explored through the lens of four characteristics regarded as key attributes fostering resilience in social-ecological systems using focus group interviews: activity, self-organisation, connections and skills and knowledge. The study is reported from the perspective of 13 local community groups in Greater London (UK) who engaged in environmental volunteering as a case study. Findings show there to be variability in these characteristics explored amongst local community groups, providing further contextual insight into how these local community groups operate. By exploring these characteristics, groups were able to understand how they operate, knowledge which can then be used to enhance their future activities to help strengthen the resilience of social-ecological systems.

Thomas Roberts, Valentine Seymour, Katya Brooks, Ross Thompson, Carl Petrokofsky, Emer O’Connell, Owen Landeg (2022)Stakeholder perspectives on extreme hot and cold weather alerts in England and the proposed move towards an impact-based approach, In: Environmental Science and Policy136pp. 467-475

Extreme weather alerting systems are one of the central tools utilised in adapting to changing weather patterns resulting from climate change. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the current alerting systems for hot and cold weather used in England to notify the health and social care sector of upcoming extreme weather events. We consider the views of stakeholders on the current system and explore their perspectives on the proposal to move towards an impact-based system. The paper concludes that while the current system is an effective tool, stakeholders feel they need to draw on additional material to assist with the development of an appropriate response. We also highlight that many stakeholders are concerned about the potential for creating alert fatigue due to a lack of clarity of the geographical area impact of some of the alerts. Consequently, there was a high level of support from stakeholders for the move towards an impact-focused system.