Ph.D. studentships: Pathways to Monoculture

Frank Uekötter's picture
March 16, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Environmental History / Studies

Ph.D. Studentships: Pathways to Monoculture


The trend towards monoculture is one of the defining features of woodland management in the modern era. From orange groves to the conifers of Europe – management of widely different forests has moved towards a reliance on one single species. That is all the more remarkable because most monocultures soon faced environmental problems. Soil exhaustion, pest and disease problems, loss of biological diversity – monocultures are known for a broad range of environmental issues. Entire disciplines such as applied entomology have grown out of the need to keep the environmental problems of monoculture in check. 

Projects should discuss the origins of these problems, their precise nature and extent, and the way in which foresters and other stakeholders reacted to environmental challenges. At the same time, projects should discuss sylvan monocultures in their social, economic and political contexts. What were the driving forces behind the trend towards monoculture? When and in which ways did economic, technological or cultural rationales cause or facilitate the transformation of woodlands? Why did monocultures come to stay in spite of their inherent ecological fragility? Projects should show an interest in a broad historical context but also be open to collaboration with scientists, particularly with a view to understanding the ecological intricacies of woodlands.

Projects should focus on specific places or regions where monocultures were prevalent. They can also focus on key groups and their role in the making of monocultures (scientists, land owners, companies, consumers, etc.). The crucial challenge for individual projects will be to combine intimate knowledge of their specific topic and particularly its environmental dimension with a problem-oriented approach that reflects on the overarching question of pathways to monoculture. How did we end up in a world where so many managed forests rely on only one species? 

Applicants are invited to propose a case study. Projects may focus on a region with one defining tree species, on a product, on an expert groups, or on other corporate or individual actors. Proposals should outline the intended topic, the guiding questions, and the source material that they plan to draw upon. For more information please consult Frank Uekotter at



Full payment of tuition fees at Research Councils UK fee level (£4,270 in 2018/19), to be paid by the University.
An annual maintenance grant at current UK Research Councils rates (2018/19 is £14,764), to be paid in monthly installments to the Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholar by the University. 
All studentships come with a minimum of £3,000 Research Training Support Grant. This can be increased, if there are justified project costs, up to a maximum of £12,000.
Funding is available for UK or EU students only. The tenure of the award can be for up to 3.5 years (42 months).


Please submit your applications online at


Contact Info: 

Frank Uekotter

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