Nathan Oxley

Nathan Oxley

Communications and Impact Manager

Nathan contributes to the impact, communications and engagement work of the STEPS Centre. He is also a web editor for the Future Agricultures Consortium. He has worked for a specialist communications agency on sustainable development, and as a web editor for a national charity in the UK.

  • Digital fabrication. Whose industrial revolution?

    Published on 17 August 2016

    As the Society for Social Studies of Science & EASST build up to their annual meeting in Barcelona next month, the 4S blog is featuring preview pieces by participants. One is by Johan Söderberg, Maxigas, and Adrian Smith, with a taste of their paper about democratizing the tools of scientific-technical expertise. 

    The last wave of making, makerspaces and open hardware production have been hailed as a new industrial revolution, promising a democratization of the means of production and to set straight all the wrongs of the previous industrial revolutions.

    How many times before have we not heard that tune being sung to us? It is familiar to anyone that has been following information technology discourses for a few years, so familiar, in fact, that even the critiques against it are getting tedious.

    Time to start afresh and ask new questions about the hype surrounding making: in what ways are the maker scene constituted by hype, why do we so badly want to be deceived by it, and what potentialities for emancipation lay hidden in this latest wave of talked-up products, not in spite of the hype, but because of it?

    Read the full post on the 4S Backchannels blog.

    More on making & innovation

    Adrian Smith is one of the authors of the new book Grassroots Innovation Movements, which is now available to order from Routledge. We’ll also be discussing digital fabrication at an event at the Brighton Digital Festival on 28 September.

  • Landmarks: how to get up close and personal with nature

    Published on 21 July 2016

    I’ve just finished reading Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in sustainability and language. Each chapter focuses on one or two authors who’ve made deep impressions on Macfarlane through their writing about the natural world – including Nan Shepherd’s deep explorations of the Cairngorms, Roger Deakin’s explorations of wild swimming, and JA Baker’s obsessive documenting of the life of peregrines.

    Underlying all this is a search for the language and words that can evoke specific places and features of nature. Scattered across the book are rare lexical gems, lists of unusual and particular words for natural phenomena.


  • How are the LDCs defining a new sustainable development agenda?

    Published on 11 July 2016

    In June 2016, the Least Developed Countries Independent Expert Group, the International Institute for Environment and Development and the STEPS Centre hosted a dialogue for Least Developed Country (LDC) experts to discuss how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could help to define a new agenda for development.

    Our colleagues at IIED interviewed participants at the meeting to gather international perspectives on how organisations are developing new thinking and actions on sustainable development. Watch the playlist of interviews below or watch them on IIED’s YouTube channel.


  • Sustainability transformations at the IDS 50 conference

    Published on 3 July 2016

  • Brexit and development

    Published on 27 June 2016

    Brexit graffiti

    As Britain faces the prospect of leaving the European Union, here’s a couple of blog posts on what the referendum result might mean for the UK’s role in international development.

    Ian Scoones on Brexit and Africa: Why Britain’s Decision to leave the EU is bad news for Africa 

    “The decision will fundamentally affect the continent’s relationship with Britain. It will have an impact on trade, aid and diplomacy. And, with Britain going it alone, the moderating influence of the EU will be lost.”

    Read the full blog

    Melissa Leach on Brexit and the future of the UK’s international development agenda

    “There are major implications for global geo-politics and governance, as the post-war European project declines at the same time as other powers and networks – from a changing US and Russia to the BRICS and China’s ‘one road, one belt’ initiative and more – rise to prominence on the world stage.”

    Read the full post on the IDS website

    Andy Stirling on Brexit, science and ‘post-truth’ politics

    “To properly get at truths, requires open, respectful, reasoned contestation – free (though only ever partly) from fetters and pressures of power. So science arguably best comes about – and flourishes most – in energetic strivings towards democracy…So what are the implications, when society suffers a collapse – not only in these political qualities, but in abilities properly to notice their decay?”

    Read the full post on the STEPS blog


  • Ebola initiatives win ESRC Outstanding International Impact Prize

    Published on 22 June 2016

    The Ebola Response Anthropology Platform (ERAP) and the related Ebola: lessons for development initiatives have won the prestigious Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Outstanding International Impact Prize. The team comprised leading anthropologists from the Institute of Development Studies and its partners, led by IDS director and former STEPS director Melissa Leach.

    The initiative built on an extensive history of research, including contributions from ESRC-funded STEPS Centre work on how social and natural scientists could work together to prepare and respond to zoonoses and infectious diseases in developing countries.

    Read a case study on the ESRC website.


  • 5 challenges for Least Developed Countries in the post-2015 era

    Published on

    Solar home system training in Bangladesh

    2016 has been a big year for international agreements on development. New Sustainable Development Goals and targets were agreed. The Paris Agreement, the strongest statement for some time on climate change action, was signed.

    But if the aspirations in them are to be fulfilled, hard work is needed. This hard work should benefit the poorest people in the world as well as those better off. At a debate last week on the Least Developed Countries and the SDGs, organised by IIED, the STEPS Centre and the Least Developed Countries Independent Experts Group, we discussed how this might happen. Here are five challenges which reflect some of the debate.


  • Painting a new picture of development

    Published on 17 June 2016

    Mobile phones on sale in the Congo

    Can the Sustainable Development Goals trigger a new approach to development in the world’s Least Developed Countries? On Monday, Least Developed Country experts from around the world gathered in London for a dialogue event to discuss how the world’s poorest countries relate to the new global goals.

    Organised by the Least Developed Countries Independent Expert Group, IIED, and the ESRCs STEPS Centre, the event discussed the challenges and opportunities created by the SDGs, and asked whether the momentum created in 2015, with international agreement on the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change, could help deliver real transformation.


  • How do we reform fossil fuel subsidies?

    Published on

    The idea of reforming fossil fuel subsidies is attracting attention in both academic and policy circles. The environmental and economic aspects of subsidies and their reform have been much debated, but the political aspects are less prominent in the discussion.

    STEPS member Peter Newell gave a keynote talk at ‘The Politics of Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Their Reform’ – a Lund University and Stockholm Environment Institute workshop – on 16 June 2016 in Sweden. The workshop aimed to address the political causes, consequences and normative implications of fossil fuel subsidies and the emerging efforts to reform them.

    Peter’s talk was called ‘The Political Economy of Incumbency: Beyond Fossil-fueled Capitalism’. The video of it is below.


  • Explainer: Sustainable Development Goals and Least Developed Countries

    Published on 6 June 2016

    The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could provide an opportunity for radical transformation in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). But with hundreds of targets, attempts to implement the goals could be mired in bureaucracy. Could the SDGs, instead, open up a political space to rethink current patterns of development?

    Ahead of a dialogue event in London on 13 June 2016, here’s our take on some of the key terms and ideas involved.