School of Earth and Environment

Rebecca Sumerling Rebecca Sumerling

Postgraduate Researcher

Email address:
Room: 9.123

Affiliation: Sustainability Research Institute


I am a PhD student between the Sustainability Research Institute and the School of Geography.

I studied in SRI for my undergraduate degree on the (now superseded) BA in Environmental Sustainability, after which I spent a year working as a planning policy officer at Leeds City Council. I worked on greenspace policy and neighbourhood planning. I was always interested in planning, urban design and environmental justice and it was in this role that I reaffirmed and developed these areas of interest. I decided to return to study and was successful in applying for a 1+3 scholarship from the ESRC's White Rose DTC.


  • MSc Environment and Development (SRI, University of Leeds), Distinction. I also studied key modules from the MA programme in Global Urban Justice (School of Geography).

  • BA Environmental Sustainability (SRI, University of Leeds), First-Class Honours.

Research Interests

Intergenerational, environmental and social justice

Urban experimentation

Innovative qualitative research methods

Project details

Project title

The City is a Playground: Contested space, playfulness and social change in the public urban realm


I am co-supervised between the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Geography.

Dr Lucie Middlemiss

Prof Paul Chatterton


My research is supported by an ESRC White Rose DTC 1+3 award. I had sponsorship to undertake an MSc in Environment and Development during 2015/16 before commencing my PhD in October 2016.

Start date

1 October 2016

Project outline

Focusing specifically on cities, the PhD project critically explores the different ways that play is mobilised in the public urban realm, within a broad agenda of urban change. Play is a fluid and contested concept that is mobilised in multiple ways to fit with different agendas, and it is now being taken more seriously as both a research object and subject; it holds value as a tool for expression and disruption, it allows people to reimagine the world and to think about a different order, system and structure of power.