Joanna Morley

Postgraduate Research Student



After careers in marketing and book publishing, I completed an MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London) in 2015, during which time I also interned as a research assistant at the Human Rights Consortium. I completed an MRes in Social Research at University of Liverpool in September 2018 as part of the ESRC funded NWSSDTC 1+3 research pathway, moving on to begin my PhD research in October 2018. I was also Vice President of the Postgraduates in Latin American Studies (PILAS) Committee 2017/18 responsible for delivering the PILAS Annual Conference at University of Liverpool in June 2018. I live and work in London. 

Research Interests

I research and deliver guest lectures to both BA and MA students on the subject of Sustainable Development in Latin America and my particular research focus is in the area of natural resource governance, socio-environmental conflicts and the green energy transition. I have published articles on environmental governance in Brazil and the Amazon fires as ecocide (2020), environmental governance, sustainable development and oil in Ecuador (2017), as well as on Nicaragua's Grand Canal Project (2018).

Thesis Title 

"Social Understandings of the ‘Ecological Transition’ and the contested politics of Renewable Energy and Natural Resource Exploitation in Ecuador"

This research will explore attempts to diversify Ecuador’s energy matrix away from traditional fossil fuels, focusing specifically on the promotion of renewable energy projects in the country. The research is interview-based and will be conducted initially online from the UK, and also during a fieldwork trip to Ecuador, to allow for empirical data collected from local communities and people connected to energy projects, including NGO, industry, company and government representatives at the national and local level), as well as commentators on the energy transition in Ecuador and Latin America

The research aims to understand how renewable projects redefine the political landscapes and social understandings of sustainable energy development at the national and local level, and what this reveals about the localisation of debates surrounding natural resource exploitation and governance within global sustainable development and climate mitigation policies. It aims to bring a discussion of renewable energy projects to the academic debates surrounding socio-environmental conflicts and natural resource governance in Latin America, within the context of international governance agendas of sustainable development in the context of the post pandemic green recovery, negotiated within varied power dynamics at the international, national and local level.

Research Funding

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

NWSSDTC 1+3 pathway

Research Centre Membership

  • Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS)
  • Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
  • Human Rights Researcher’s Network (HRRN)
  • ENCA (Environmental Network of Central America)

Professional Experience


  • Apr - Nov 2021 - Research Assistant to Dr. Jewellord Nem Singh 
    Editing and preparation of a monograph intended for use as a course reader, to be sent to publishers. Book title: Business of the State - Why State Ownership Matters for Resource Governance
  • Jan 2020 - October 2020 - Research Assistant to Professor Julian Burger
    Various research briefs, including for Professor Burger’s contributions to:
    Burger (2020) Amazon: challenges for environmental and indigenous rights (European Parliament, June 2020) 
    UNESCO (2021) Report on Endangered Languages [working title]
  • Jan - Mar 2015 - Research Intern, Human Rights Consortium (HRC), London
    Internship at the HRC at the University of London during my MA and worked with the Director to finalise a paper calling for a human rights impact assessment for fracking projects in the UK (see below) and a research grant application. 


Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Dec 21)

    Guest Lectures:

  • Mar 2021 - Lecture, seminars and delivery of course material for week 6 ‘Natural Resources and Sustainable Development in Latin America’ on LATI209 Globalisation and Development in Latin America’, module University of Liverpool (UK)
  • Oct 2020 - virtual webinar ‘Sustainable Development in Latin America’, International Development MA, Aalborg University (Denmark)
  • Oct 2019 - ‘Sustainable Development’, International Relations BA, Aalborg University (Denmark)
  • Oct 2019 - ‘Green Energy Transition and Sustainable Development’, International Development MA, Aalborg University (Denmark)
  • Oct 2019 - 'Sustainable Development in Latin America’, International Development MA, Aalborg University (Denmark)
  • Nov 2018 - ‘Natural Resource Exploitation in Latin America: Buen Vivir and Sustainable Development in Ecuador’, Presentation for undergraduate module ‘Globalisation and Development in Latin America’, University of Liverpool (UK)


  • Co-authored Article: Raftopoulos, R and Morley, J (2020) ‘Ecocide in the Amazon: The Contested Politics of Environmental Rights in Brazil’ The International Journal of Human Rights (24) 10
  • Book chapter (2017) ‘Human rights and socio-environmental conflict in Nicaragua’s Grand Canal project’. Natural Resource Development and Human Rights in Latin America: State and Non-state Actors in the promotion and opposition to extractivism activities.University of London 2017.
  • Article (2017) ‘ ... Beggars sitting on a sack of gold’: Oil exploration in the Ecuadorian Amazon as buen vivir and sustainable development.International Journal of Human Rights: Special Issue: Social-Environmental Conflicts, Extractivism and Human Rights in Latin America. Volume 21 issue 4, 2017
  • Article (2015) Extreme energy, ‘fracking’ and human rights: a new field for human rights impact assessments?International Journal of Human Rights. Volume19 issue 6, 2015