Prof. John Whitton

Professor of Engineering and Social Science; Co-Director, Centre for Energy, Sustainable Development and Resilience; Co-Director, Institute for Citizenship, Society and Change

School of Engineering

Kirkham Building, KM016

+44 (0) 1772 89 4211

John is Professor of Engineering and Social Science. He has a multi-disciplinary background in Earth Science, Engineering and Social Science. He joined UCLan in 2014, following a career in the energy industry as an Environmental Social Scientist. He is a Director of the UCLan Centre for Energy, Sustainable Development and Resilience – a research centre that brings together Engineers, Social Scientists and Psychologists to work on the systemic challenges presented by the interaction between UN Sustainable Development Goals. He is also a Director of the UCLan Institute for Citizenship, Society and Change – a collaboration of research strands from four UCLan Faculties into a critical mass capable of extensive transdisciplinary research. John is a Chartered Scientist and a Member of the Institution of Environmental Sciences.

Full Profile

John’s research interest’s focus on the interaction between communities and large-scale infrastructure development, such as the industrial complex associated with energy production and consumption.  His published academic research is on community participation in large energy infrastructure decision making for nuclear energy, shale gas and renewables. He is an Editor of the recent Routledge Energy Series book “Governing Shale Gas: Development, Citizen Participation and Decision Making in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe”. John’s group at UCLan currently hold the Horizon 2020 research grant, “History of Nuclear Energy and Society”, led by Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona with academic partners from across the EU. He leads the social science work packages with his Spanish counterpart and has carried out social science research on the development of the relationship between nuclear energy and society in 23 countries over the last 60 years.

  • PhD - Participant Perceptions on the Nature of Stakeholder Dialogue Carried Out by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), University of Manchester. 2010.
  • MSc Geotechnical Engineering, University Of Glasgow. 1997.
  • B.Sc(Hons), Earth Science (Environmental Science / Geology), Liverpool John Moores University. 1994.
Research Groups
  • Energy and Society Research Group


Whitton, J. and Charnley-Parry, I. (2019). Chapter 14 - The Long Hello: Energy Governance, Public Participation, and ‘Fracking’. In The Palgrave Handbook of Managing Fossil Fuels and Energy Transitions, Edited by Geoffrey Wood and Keith Baker. ISBN:978-3-030-28075-8. Springer Nature.

Whitton, J., Cotton, M. and Brasier, K. (2018). Eds. Governing Shale Gas: International Perspectives on Development, Citizen Participation and Decision-Making. Routledge Studies in Energy Policy.

Witt, K., Whitton, J. and Rifkin, W., (2018). Is the Gas Industry a Good Neighbour? A Comparison of UK and Australia Experiences in Terms of Procedural Fairness and Distributive Justice. Journal of the Extractive Industries and Society. In Special Issue on Social aspects of unconventional hydrocarbon development globally. The Extractive Industries and Society, Volume 5, Issue 4, November 2018, Pages 547-556.

Whitton, J., Brasier, K., Parry, I.M. and Cotton, M., (2017).  The Development of Shale Gas Governance in the UK and US: Opportunities for Public Participation and the Implications for Social Justice. Journal of Energy Research and Social Science. Energy Research & Social Science 26 (C), pp. 11-22

More publications

External Activities

John is a Director of Local Trust, overseer of the £220m, 15 year resident-led National Lottery community regeneration programme, Big Local.


Histories of Nuclear Energy and Society (HoNESt), Horizon 2020/Euratom Nuclear Fission Research Program, led by Dr Albert Presas i Puig, Universitat Pompeu Fabra – €3,052,269

(Co-Investigator, October 2015-February 2019).


  • Full Member of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (MIEnvSc). 2011
  • Chartered Scientist, Science Council (C.Sci. A). 2004.

Social Media


Current PhD Students

2017: Assessing Social Sustainability in Urban Road Transportation of Abuja, Nigeria

2017: The Social, Political and Economic Challenges of Developing the United Arab Emirates Nuclear Development Programme

2015: Assessing homeowners' attitudes towards reducing energy consumption

2012: EPSRC CASE Award with BAE SYSTEMS: Private Carbon Governance Initiatives to Encourage Climate Change Mitigation via the Defence Sector. (Complete 2017)

2012: EPSRC CASE Award with National Nuclear Laboratory: Strategic Decision Making for a Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycle. (Complete 2015)

2012: EPSRC CASE Award with BAE SYSTEMS Human Science Aspects of Intelligent Energy Management Systems. (Complete 2015)

John welcomes enquiries by potential PhD students in the following areas:

  • Human and social dimensions of climate change and energy policy / governance associated with the low carbon transition
  • Community decision making and citizen participation
  • Social sustainability and social networks


Whitton, J. and Parry, I.C.P., (2018). Conceptualizations of Energy Community based on Place, Social Groups and Social Imaginings. Energizing Futures – Sustainable Development and Energy in Transition. Tampere, Finland from 13-14 June, 2018.

Parry, I.C.P. and Whitton, J., (2018). Future Energy Governance in Anglesey, North Wales: Effective Stakeholder Dialogue, Social Priorities, and Perceived Social Impacts of New Nuclear Build at the Community-level’. Energizing Futures – Sustainable Development and Energy in Transition. Tampere, Finland from 13-14 June, 2018.

Whitton, J. and Parry, I.C.P., (2018). Preliminary Social Science Findings. Horizon 2020 History of Nuclear Energy and Society (HoNESt) Stakeholder Engagement Event, Natural History Museum, London on 30th – 31st January 2018.

Energy Impacts Symposium, (2017). Plenary Organiser and Chair: Applying Social Science to Energy Research Priorities: Perspectives from the Commonwealth. Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio from 25th – 27th July 2017

European Union Joint Research Centre, (2017). Transatlantic Knowledge Sharing Conference on Unconventional Hydrocarbons: Resources, Risks, Impact and Research Needs. Conference Co-chair, Session Organiser and Chair for Session 4: Multi-actor and public engagement in research and innovation. De Bazel Conference Centre, Amsterdam from 20th – 21st June 2017.