Sarah Parry's profile

Dr Sarah Parry


Senior Lecturer

Other Title

Degree Programme Director for MA in Sustainable Development


Science Technology and Innovation Studies

E-Mail Telephone

++44 (0)131 650 6389


2.85 Old Surgeons' Hall

High School Yards

Edinburgh, UK


After completing my doctoral research in the Science Studies Unit, University of Edinburgh, in 2003 I joined STIS as a lecturer in sociology. My academic roots are in sociology, cultural studies and science and technology studies - a path that began with an inspirational and gifted A Level Sociology teacher. As part of previous and current work, I am interested in:

  • Gender-environment relations, particularly in over-developed countries
  • Gender and household sustainability
  • Classifications and understandings of nature
  • Animal-human relations in the context of environmental issues
  • Technologies and caring relations
  • The construction and negotiation of knowledge and expertise, including so-called 'lay' or 'public' knowledge
  • Issue framing (as technical, social, ethical, political etc.) in decision-making processes relating to science, technology and environment.

Research Interests

Gender and Environment Gender and Technology Gender Environment and Health Environment and Social Change

Current Projects

My current research interests focus on relations between gender and environment in over-developed countries. Through research with colleagues as part of the Sustainable Practices Research Group, and building on knowledge acquired through my previous research on stem cell research and genomics, I became puzzled because the majority of environmental social science research and writing in mainstream publications remains largely gender-blind. This puzzle propelled me to return to feminist works produced under the banner of ecofeminism, then on to more recent research focussed on gender-environment relations, and my research grew from there. I am currently writing about the gender-environment-household nexus.

Completed Projects

Sustainable Practices Research Group (2010 - 2013)

I was principal investigator for the 'Engagement, Interaction and Influence' work-package for the Sustainable Practices Research Group (SPRG), funded by ESRC, DEFRA and Scottish Government. The SPRG aimed to develop fresh understandings about how social practices change and how to encourage more sustainable behaviours. Particular emphasis was placed on consumption - on the grounds that changing the consumption practices of billions of individuals poses the greatest challenge to the achievement of sustainability. The SPRG took its cue from social theories that emphasize the importance of collective understandings and everyday practices and on the material and social circumstances that constrain behaviour in order to find levers for intervention.

Building on my previous research on public engagement, this project had both a research and an engagement component. The aim of the research component was to further our understanding of the relationship between social science and public policy. Through the analysis of four contemporary case studies where social science and public policy are interacting we asked: what are the processes within each that lead to the inclusion/exclusion of social science ideas in/from public policy? Our findings from the research element fed into an engagement component which brought together social scientists with people from public policy, civil society, business and the third sector. The aim of the engagement component was to identify opportunities for opening up existing debates in such a way that insights from social science research on behaviour, environment and sustainable consumption could be taken up. My collaborators on this project were Prof. Joseph Murphy (co-I) and Dr Fraser Stewart (Research Fellow, 2011-2013).

Eurostemcell (2010 - 2014)

I was involved in a European consortium for communicating stem cell research. This project brought together the major EU-funded large-scale stem cell projects and aimed to create a coordinated platform for widespread dissemination of scientific knowledge spanning the research fields of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. My role was to advise on the evaluation of the communication and engagement activities generated as part of this project.

Meanings of nature (2008 - 2010)

Funded through the ESRC's Genomics Network I coordinated a network of scholars to explore the relationship between developments in genomics and our knowledge and understanding of 'nature'. I subsequently co-edited a book (with John Dupré) on the same topic which was published in 2010 (see below).

Public engagement and stem cell research (2005 - 2008)

Funded under the ESRC's programme, "Stem Cell Research: The Economic and Social Agenda", I was principal investigator on a three year project: "The Social Dynamics of Public Engagement in Stem Cell Research". This was a collaborative project with Sarah Cunningham-Burley (Public Health Sciences & CRFR), Wendy Faulkner (Science Studies Unit) and Austin Smith (Institute for Stem Cell Biology, University of Cambridge). We also had a research fellow and a science communications officer working as part of the research team. The project had two aims: first, to explore the views of a wide range of publics and experts in Scotland and, second, to develop engagement methods for establishing a dialogue between different groups.

Guidance and Feedback Hours

Please email me to arrange a suitable meeting slot.

Undergraduate Teaching

For 2020-21 my teaching-related roles include:

Other Teaching Activities

I also co-organise/teach Gender, Science and Technology (not running in 2019-20). Previous roles in teaching and related administration have included redeveloping the MSc in Science and Technology in Society, coordinating the Impact Case Studies for the Sociology submission to REF2014, and course development and teaching at both undergradute and postgraduate levels.

PhD Topics

I have enjoyed supervising doctoral students from a range of backgrounds - from the natural and social sciences - and would welcome students interested in: i) Gender-environment relations, particularly in over-developed countries; ii) Classifications and understandings of nature; iii) Animal-human relations in the context of environmental issues; and iv) Gender and environmental health, including reproduction. I will be glad to hear from any excellent students that have an idea that builds on any of these interests.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies

Current PhD Students

Antonio Ballesteros Figueroa (2017 - 2021) An Investigation into the construction of indicators: An STS approach to the construction of environmental knowledge. 

Joyce Serwaa Oppong (2019 - 2022) The role of children as e-waste pickers in Ghana.

Xin Zhang (2020 - 2026, part-time) Sustainable fashion.

Denisea Fernandez-Kennedy (2020 - 2024) Sex Robots Among Us: Feminist and Ethical Issues.

Murphy, J. & Parry, S. (2021) Gender, households and sustainability: Disentangling and re-entangling with the help of ‘work’ and ‘care’, Environment & Planning E: Nature and Space.

Murphy, J., Parry, S., and Walls, J. (2016) The EPSRC's policy of responsible innovation from a trading zones perspective. Minerva, 54: 2: 151–174.

Parry, S. & Murphy, J. (2015): Problematizing interactions between social science and public policy, Critical Policy Studies, 9(1): 97-107.

Parry, S. and Murphy, J. (2013) 'Towards a Framework for Analysing Interactions between Social Science and Environmental Policy', Evidence & Policy, 9(4): 531-546.

Parry, S., Faulkner, W., Cunningham-Burley, S., and Marks., N.J. (2012) 'Heterogeneous Agendas Around Public Engagement in Stem Cell Research: The Case for Maintaining Plasticity', Science and Technology Studies, 24(2): 61-80.

Bates, S., Faulkner, W., Parry, S. and Cunningham-Burley, S. (2010) ''How Do We Know It's Not Been Done Yet?!' Trust, Trust Building and Regulation in Stem Cell Research', Science and Public Policy, 37(9): 703-718. 

Hallowell, N., Parry, S., Cooke., S., Crawford, G., Lucassen., A., and Parker, M. (2010) 'Lay and Professional Understandings of Research and Clinical Activities in Cancer Genetics and their Implications for Informed Consent', American Journal Of Bioethics Primary Care, 1(2): 25-34.

Parry, S. and Dupré, J. (eds) (2010) Nature After The Genome, Oxford: Blackwell/Sociological Review. 

Parry, S. (2010) 'Interspecies Entities and the Politics of Nature’ in S. Parry and J. Dupré (eds) Nature After The Genome, Oxford: Blackwell/Sociological Review.

Parry, S. (2009) 'Stem cell scientists’ discursive strategies for cognitive authority', Science as Culture, 18(1):89-114.

Haddow, G., Cunningham-Burley, S., Bruce, A. and Parry, S. (2008) 'Generation Scotland: consulting publics and specialists at an early stage in a genetic database's development'Critical Public Health, 18(2):139-149. 

Parry, S. (2006) ‘(Re)Constructing embryos in stem cell research: Exploring the meaning of embryos for people involved in fertility treatments’Social Science & Medicine, 62(10): 2349-2359. 

Parry, S. (2003) 'The politics of cloning: Mapping the rhetorical convergence of embryos and stem cells in parliamentary debates'New Genetics and Society, 22(2): 177-200.

Working Papers

Stewart, F., Parry, S. and Murphy, J. (February, 2013) ‘Sustainable communities as a policy frame: the case of the Climate Challenge Fund in Scotland’, INNOGEN Working Paper, University of Edinburgh.

Parry, S. and Murphy, J. (March, 2012) ‘Towards a framework for analyzing interactions between social science and environmental policy’, INNOGEN Working Paper, University of Edinbgurgh.