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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Francesca Fois

Lecturer in Human Geography


Francesca’s background is in Economics and Management (Bachelor and Master Degrees at Cagliari University in Italy). In 2009, she joined the Geography Department at Durham University undertaking an MA in Research Methods in Human Geography. After collaborating with Rome University, in the following years, she moved to Newcastle University where Francesca undertook a PhD research in Human Geography. This explored the social, economic, spiritual and spatial enactment of alternative spaces such as intentional communities in Italy and Brazil by critically interrogating the themes of utopianism and heterotopia.

While concluding her PhD, she was appointed as a Teaching Associate in Economic Geography in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. After spending 16 months in Nottingham and obtaining her PhD in December 2015 from Newcastle University, she moved to Aberystwyth for almost three years working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the project ‘The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization’ (GLOBAL-RURAL) led by Professor Mike Woods. During these years, Francesca investigated the connections between rural development and globalisation in Brazil, China and Italy by using assemblage theory. Since February 2019, Francesca is a Lecturer in Human Geography at Salford University.



Francesca contributes to a range of modules in Human Geography from first year to Masters level:

  • L4: People, Place and Space (module co-leader 19/20)
  • L5: Economic Geography (module leader 19/20)
  • L5: Research Methods
  • L6: Development and Global Challenges (module leader 19/20)
  • L7: Research Design and Delivery
  • L7: Contemporary Issues in Sustainability


Research Interests

Francesca’s research in Human Geography explores global changes, challenges and responses in contemporary societies in the global South (Brazil and China) and in peripheral areas of the global North (Italy).

Her research has three main trajectories:

  1. it explores the connections between rural development and globalisation to investigate the related socio-economic and environmental changes;
  2. it investigates how communities address global challenges such as food security, water supply and migration;
  3. it studies how individuals and communities respond and engage in counter-cultural experimentations to overcome some of the contemporary issues and create spaces of sustainability and wellbeing.


Qualifications and Memberships

BA Economics, Management and Business administration at Cagliari University, Italy (2001–2005)

MiM - Master in Management at Cagliari University, Italy (2005–2008)

MA in Research Methods in Human Geography at Durham University, UK (2009–2010)

PhD in Human Geography at Newcastle University (2013–2015)

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Ecovillage Designer Qualification, Training for sustainability – Gaia University, Damanhur, Italy (2012)

RGS-IBG Participatory Geographies Research Group ECR Officer



Fois F. (2018)Enacting alternative experimental spaces’, in Antipode.

Fois F. (2017) ‘Shamanic spiritual activism: an alternative development of the Itamboatá Valley in Brazil’, Third World Thematics: A Third World Quaterly Journal, 2 (2-3), 338-355

Fois, F. (2017) ‘Understanding ethnography through a life course framework: a research journey into alternative spiritual spaces’, Area, 49 (4), 421-428.

Fois F. and G. Forino (2014)Self-built ecovillage in L’Aquila (Italy): community resilience as a grassroots response to an environmental shock’, Disasters, 38 (4), 719-739.

Fois F. and Sesto C. (2012) ‘Oriental philosophy in Western every-day life. Buddhist groups in Rome’ in International Journal of Humanities, 9(8), 207-218.

Paragano D. And Fois F. (2012) Localization of military bases and opposition movements: the case of Vicenza’ (In Italian) in Rivista Geografica Italiana, 119 (4), 373–399.

De Sanctis F., Fois F. and Polizzi E. (2011) Neoliberalism and Privatization: from the theoretical framework to the Italian case. An analysis for the interpretation of the socio-spatial impacts (in Italian) in Annali del Dipartimento MEMOTEF of Rome University.

Fois F. and Paragano D. (2011)Autonomous Geographies in anti-military base movements in Vicenza (Italy) in Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 23, 313–319.

Fois F. (2009)Neoliberalism, the Argentinian Crisis and people’s responses in Córdoba and La Rioja’ in Proceedings of ISA–RC21 Conference: Inequality, Inclusion and the Sense of Belonging, 23rd–25th August, 2009, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Click here for the full list of publications.