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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Michael Hardman

Senior Lecturer in Geography


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. 

My research interests are interdisciplinary and surround the broad area of sustainable urban environments with my work particularly focussing on the idea of ‘urban agriculture’ and sustainable cities. I am known widely for my work around guerrilla gardening and how informal activity can make a significant impact in cities. I have published widely in high-impact journals and have received numerous awards for my work e.g. Elsevier Highly Cited Research and prizes from professional bodies.

My research has been recognised at the highest levels, for example through being invited to be the keynote speaker at a range of prestigious events: recently addressing the world’s largest planning conference as keynote in South Africa (an audience of >800, addressing politicians, professionals and academics and further keynotes in France, Slovakia (twice), ESOF (by invitation of the European Commission – only Salford academic) and more. Alongside this, I was recently invited to coordinate a UNESCO workshop in the USA, bringing together world leading planners to discuss the topic of sustainable cities.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and co-founder of their Food Geographies Research Group. Alongside this I am the Editor for the Journal of Horticulture and Agriculture, a member of the Town and Country Planning Association, ISUF, the British Sociological Association and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy; I am also the only UK academic on the international Carrot City Research Group based in Toronto, Canada. My research has featured heavily in the media, with >100 appearances in the likes of BBC News, BBC radio/tv, The Independent, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN, The Conversation and other major international news outlets.

Internally within the University of Salford I co-found the Creative Wellbeing network: a collection of academics from all the schools who are interested in green care. This group has been successful in attracting significant funding and has enabled collaboration across the institution. Within my school I coordinate a wide range of researchers working on the broad topic of sustainable food, these include postdocs, research associates/assistants and PhD students.


I teach across 10 modules and act as module leader for 5.  Due to the interdisciplinary nature of my research, I teach across a wide range of modules, from urban geography to economics, sustainability and research skills. My teaching is research-led and hands-on, with board games, international and domestic fieldtrips and other tools used for engagement. Alongside my undergraduate teaching I am the Programme Leader for the recent MSc Sustainability, again leading several modules, this time at postgraduate level.

I have designed many of the modules and programmes currently on offer within ELS, such as the new BA (Hons) Archaeology and Geography and modules such as the new final year international field course for urban geographers to Barcelona. Outside of the University of Salford I am the external examiner of undergraduate geography courses for a London based institution and regularly speak at teaching events (e.g. the Geographical Association) providing expertise on the latest methods to use in the classroom. 

Research Interests

I have authored a wide range of research publications, from a large book, to journal articles, book chapters and research reports. My book was the first in the Springer Urban Agriculture series and has sold some 4000 copies. I have also published widely in leading geography journals such as Urban Studies, Progress in Planning and others. The majority of these publications focus on the idea of guerrilla gardening and how informal activity can add value to urban areas. Since moving to Salford in August 2013 I have secured some 25 grants. Many of these grants are from industrial partners, such as Oldham, Manchester and Salford city councils.

The majority of these commissions focus on Urban Agriculture and the potential of the concept in cities, for example, a recent project I led was to explore employability opportunities for the community in high-tech growing and another project focused on the potential to upscale urban farming. My work on urban agriculture has attracted invitations to join international teams, in one recent case I was instrumental on a successful National Research Foundation grant (South African Research Council), taking the role of the ‘expert mentor’. 

Qualifications and Memberships

PhD in Planning 2013 (Birmingham City University)

MA (with Merit) in the Contemporary City 2009 (Manchester Metropolitan University)

PGCert in Academic Practice 2014 (University of Salford)

BSc (Hons) Geography 2008 (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (including co-founder of the Food Geographies Research Group – currently committee lead role)

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Invited member of the international Carrot City Research Group in Toronto, Canada (only UK academic, more info:

Member of the British Sociological Association (equivalent to Fellow in other societies)

Member of the Town and Country Planning Association (equivalent to Fellow in other societies)

Member of the Urban Morphology Research Group (equivalent to Fellow in other societies)

Member of the International Society of City and Regional Planners (equivalent to Fellow in other societies)

Vice-Chancellor appointed member on the Manchester and Salford Universities Military Education Committee (August 2013 – Present)

Invited Member of the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit, NMWSS, University of Salford

Invited Member of the Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures (SURF), SOBE, University of Salford 

Member of the Ecosystem and Environment Research Group, ELS, University of Salford


St Clair, R., Hardman, M., Armitage, R.P. and Sheriff, G.S. (2017) The Trouble with Temporary: Impacts and Pitfalls of Meanwhile Community Gardening in Wythenshawe, South Manchester, doi:10.1017/S1742170517000291

Adams, D., Hardman, M. and Larkham, P. (2015) Exploring Guerrilla Gardening: Gauging Public Views on the Grassroots Activity, Local Environment, 20 (10): 1231 – 1246.

Chipungu, L., Magidimisha, H., Hardman, M. and Beesley, L. (2015) Exploring Urban Agriculture in Africa: A Review of the Practice in Harare, Nairobi and Johannesburg, in: Thomas, A. and Brearley, F. (Eds.) Land-Use Change Impacts on Soil Processes in Tropical and Savannah Ecosystems, Surrey: CABI

Adams, D. and Hardman, M. (2014) Observing Guerrillas in the Wild: Reinterpreting Practices of Informal Gardening, Urban Studies, 51 (6): 1103 – 1119

Attlee, A., Reed, M., Carter, C., Scott, A. J., Vella, S., Hardman, M. and Neumann, R. K. (2015) 'Looking To The Future Of Ecosystem Services: A Review Of Available Approaches’, CABI Reviews, 10 (24): 1-13

Hardman, M. and Larkham, P. (2014) Informal Urban Agriculture: The Secret Lives of Guerrilla Gardeners, London: Springer

Hardman, M. and Larkham, P. (2014) Food Charters: A Mechanism for Increasing Urban Agriculture, Land Use Policy, 39: 400 – 402