Seb  O'Connor

Seb O'Connor


I am an inter-disciplinary social scientist researching the various ways in which we value nature. Having grounded my studies in environmental ethics, I then made a transition to study Ecological Economics. This reflects my interest in value as a concept from an ethical, ecological and economic point of view. 

Broadly I aim to add to existing work on democratising the ways in which we value nature. With this research I look to contribute to envrionmental and conservation policy that aims to better include stakeholders through participatory and deliberative valuation techniques. 

Research interests

My research interests lie in environmental values as well as the decision making processes that we use to elicit these values. I aim to address the gap between ethical critiques of the human-nature relationship and the current environmental valuation methods. The methods I am interested in include participatory approaches to valuation, Systemic Action Research, Deliberative valuation and Social Multi-Criteria Evaluations. I am interested in how social values towards the environment might change not just over time but also in the process in which decisions are made.

My current research project will develop existing methodologies that might re-examine how we value living with nature. Looking at the context of flooding in York, participatory research will ask how people value living from, in and with the rivers in York. These environmental valuation techniques will also explore cultural identities and historical narratives through storytelling and deliberative techniques. The aim will be to elicit the cultural, shared and plural values of the rivers in York into an output, which will then be used alongside economic and environmental data as part of a more practical and policy focused approach to assessing the flood management alternatives. This final decision-making process, likely to be a Social Multi-Criteria Evaluation project, will involve key stakeholders across all relevant sectors.


  • Msc, Ecological Economics, University of Edinburgh
  • BA, Philosophy, University of Manchester