Research Projects

Participatory Literature and the Creative Expression of Environmental Challenges


Brett Matulis
University of Leicester
Jessica Moyer
University of Leicester
Sian Sullivan
Bath Spa University

This research explores the potential of 21st century nature writing to empower disadvantaged communities, restore environmental rights at risk, and transform the global conservation agenda.  Creative practice-based inquiry sits at the heart of the project, in the form of a series of nature writing workshops for women in the Philippines.  These were delivered in Pampanga and Quezon City, in partnership with local professional writers, performers, researchers, and activists.  The workshops examined nature writing as tradition, identity, practice, communication, advocacy, and legacy – all while working towards the compilation of a Filipina Nature Writing Anthology.  The project further engages participants in the digital humanities to produce a distinctly contemporary piece of nature writing – the video essay – to be disseminated through social media.


  • To work in close partnership with and support ongoing efforts by local NGOs towards environmental justice and sustainable development within the Philippines.  These include Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), which advocates for the rights, security, and political participation of rural Filipina women; Gabriela, which is a national alliance of over 200 organizations representing Filipina women’s struggle for freedom and democracy; and the Centre for Environmental Concerns (CEC), which is a Philippines-based environmental organization that works directly with under-resourced and marginalized communities around the country.
  • To shed light on the most pressing environmental issues of the Southeast Asian region, as identified ‘on the ground’ and directly relayed by those with first-hand experience
  • To generate compelling evidence and illustrative personal accounts in support of claims by a growing number of organizations and civil society groups in the Philippines and other parts of the developing world, that socio-economic inequality is the single greatest threat to global environmental security and sustainability
  • To bolster critiques of capitalist conservation by fostering greater understanding of the communities it disempowers as well as the local environmental values and traditions it undermines
  • To highlight equitable and sustainable alternatives to capitalist conservation, and to inform environmental practices and policies at multiple scales by giving voice to the unique knowledges and practices of rural Filipina women – and then translating such insights into concrete policy recommendations for presentation to national and international policymakers
  • To honor, engage with, and help shape the future direction of nature writing by working to diversify, contextualize and modernize the art form.
  • To address gender inequality in the fields of both nature writing and conservation by focusing on the female experience, and by celebrating women as authors and engaged environmental citizens


The project is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.  Local partner institutions include Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), Gabriela, De La Salle University, and the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC).



More Stories

The Network
The Newton Tech4Dev Network research team is led by Dr. Jonathan Corpus Ong, Prof. Peter Lunt, and Prof. Julio C. Teehankee.