Michael Hardman

Dr Michael Hardman

Lecturer in Geography


I am currently a Lecturer in Geography in Geography and Environmental Management (GEM). My academic career started with a first degree in Geography, I then undertook an MA in urban geography followed by a PhD in Planning; the latter I completed in less than 2 years and 7 months. The subject of my doctorate was guerrilla gardening: I used ethnographic methods to analyse the actions of those who illegally colonised land in cities. Following this, I held posts on several research projects and was appointed a Research Fellow at Birmingham City University.

In terms of research I have spoken at over 30 events, including presenting several international invited and keynote papers, such as my recent pieces in Slovakia and my role in launching a major agriculture initiative in the UK. I have published in a range of high-impact journals, proceedings, books and have my own forthcoming book with Springer on illegal urban agriculture; this is due to be the first in the international series due in 2014. This research has gained a considerable amount of media coverage, including The Brazilian Post, Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post, other media and industry magazines e.g. Fresh Produce Journal.


I am module lead for Academic Skills Tutorials, Cities, Governance and Change and Sustainability and Environment in the department. I also teach substantial parts of People, Place and Space, Economic Geography, Research Methods and other modules across the school. I currently supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate students on subjects ranging from urban greenspace to sustainable food systems.

Research Interests

I am an interdisciplinary researcher interested in a variety of topics: from spatial planning, to urban geography and environmental management. I have worked on a variety of projects, ranging from government-funded initiatives (UK National Ecosystem Follow-On), to local authority (Connecting Communities), research council schemes (RELU) and a variety of others.

My core focus is around food security, particularly attempts to introduce agricultural activity into cities. I am currently involved in a variety of projects around the idea of urban agriculture, from two European COST Actions: Urban Agriculture Europe (management member) and Urban Allotments (planning member), to other large international projects, such as Carrot City (www.carrotcity.org). Besides these academic projects, I am also working alongside local authorities and organisations to evaluate and improve these initiatives; for instance, a pilot project with Birmingham City Council and Growing Birmingham aims to explore the value of community gardening in deprived areas of the city.

I have published in a variety of high-impact journals, keynoted at several major events and spoke at numerous international conferences on the topic. My forthcoming book on illegal urban agriculture will be the first to be published in Springer’s new international series.    

Qualifications and Memberships

PhD in Planning (Birmingham City University)

MA the Contemporary City (Manchester Metropolitan University)

BSc (Hons) Geography (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Member of the British Sociological Association

Member of the Town and Country Planning Association


Adams, D. and Hardman, M. (2013) Observing Guerrillas in the Wild: Reinterpreting Practices of Informal Gardening, Urban Studies doi:10.1177/0042098013497410

Adams, D., Hardman, M. and Scott, A.J. (2013) Guerrilla Warfare in the Planning System: Revolutionary Progress Towards Sustainability? Geografiska Annaler B: Human Geography, in press

Hardman, M. and Larkham, P. (forthcoming) An Exploration of Illegal Urban Agriculture: The Secret Life of Guerrilla Gardeners, New York: Springer

Hardman, M. (2012) Review: AESOP Third Sustainable Food Thematic Group Meeting, Town Planning Review, 83 (4): 487 – 492

Hardman, M. (2011) Artificial Grass in Schools: A Synthetic Novelty? Critical Contemporary Culture, 1 (1): 3 – 14

Scott, A.J., Carter, C.E., Larkham, P., Reed, M., Morton, N., Waters, R., Adams, D., Collier, D., Crean, C., Curzon, R., Forster, R., Gibbs, P., Grayson, N., Hardman, M., Hearle, A., Jarvis, D., Kennet, M. Leach, K., Middleton, M., Schiessel, N., Stonyer, B., Coles, R. (2013) Disintegrated Development at the Rural Urban Fringe: Re-connecting Spatial Planning Theory and Practice, Progress in Planning, 83: 1 – 52