Neil Ward


I am a specialist in agriculture, environment, food and rural development and a human geographer by training.  I joined UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences in 2022 as Professor of Rural & Regional Development after a 13-year period in senior management as Executive Dean of UEA’s Faculty of Social Sciences and PVC Academic and Deputy Vice Chancellor up to 2021.

I am a co-convenor of the UK research councils’ ‘Agrifood4NetZero’ Network+ initiative, which runs from 2022 to 2025 and is building a community of practice involving scientists, policymakers, and practitioners to help support the development of a sustainable UK agri-food system for the transition to net zero by 2050.  My book, “Net Zero, Food and Farming: Climate Change and the UK Agri-Food System”, is published by Routledge (August 2022).

I started my career at University College London in 1988 and have worked at the Universities of Leeds and Newcastle before joining UEA.  At Newcastle, I was Director of the University’s Centre for Rural Economy from 2004 to 2008. I have previously spent periods on secondment to the Prime Minister’s Performance and Innovation Unit in the Cabinet Office (1999) and to the Economic and Social Research Council (2003-04) where I helped design and plan the cross-council Rural Economy and Land Use Programme.

I spent spring of 2022 working on a study of the historical and contemporary geography of the horse, producing a book manuscript with the working title: “Horses, Power and Place: A More-Than-Human Geography of Britain’s Equestrian Legacies”.  It considers the ways that the human-horse relationship has shaped the development of towns and cities, the rural landscape, the Industrial Revolution and empire, and national interconnectedness, and the implications of the transition from ‘peak horse’ since the early twentieth century.