When violence and natural disasters intersect – exploring the role of gender and agro-cultural artefacts in the promotion of equitable resilience and solidary in rural Zimbabwe

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 31st March 2021

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2021

For queries contact Georgina McAllister.

Trailblazers PhD studentships

This is a Trailblazers fully-funded PhD studentship.

See the full list of available opportunities


Coventry University is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship within the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience.

Project details

Sowing Autonomy in Violent Environments (SAVE) is a research collaboration intended to strengthen the resilience and voice of marginalised resource users in Zimbabwe’s remote Eastern Highlands. Informed by the experiences articulated by women exposed to Cyclone Idai in 2019, it engages with local knowledge, food cultures, changing land and resource-use histories. Some of the most valuable items in rural farming communities are seeds, 52% of which were washed away by the Cyclone. Heirloom varieties, carefully selected and collected over generations, are at the heart of local food systems, cultural ritual, and essential for climate change adaptation. They also represent autonomy from coercive patronage structures, where land, food and seed are ‘gifted’ in return for loyalty.

SAVE will investigate the implications of natural disasters when mapped onto existing injustices and inequalities. Rooted in place and culture, this interdisciplinary research will apply a political ecology lens to shed light on how power shapes ecologies of violence. As part of the SAVE team, the researcher will engage in participatory action research with marginalised resource users and decision makers, to co-generate learning that promotes alternative sources of collective power and identity, through an exploration of agro-cultural artefacts for seed banking and equitable access.


This is a fully-funded studentship including full tuition fees (UK/EU/International) plus stipend (based upon the applicable UKRI rate at the point of the award) and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will be uniquely supported across 2 further centres: the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities (CAMC), and the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR). S/he will benefit from working with an experienced transdisciplinary and inter-cultural team, with an advisor who is a specialist in gender and rural sociology at the University of Zimbabwe.

In addition, s/he will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry Requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average. 
    the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

In addition

The candidate would have a strong interest in applied research and collaborative working; be comfortable working in remote locations for extended periods of time; and have good inter-cultural communication skills.  Applicants would ideally have a theoretical background in human ecology, peace or development studies, social psychology, sociology, anthropology or similarly related.

While all applications are encouraged, we particularly welcome applicants from or BIPOC communities.

How to apply

All applications require full supporting documentation, and a covering letter – plus a 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

To find out more about the project, please contact Georgina McAllister.

Apply to Coventry University
Coventry University No.1 Modern University No.1 Modern University in the Midlands
Coventry University awarded TEF GOLD Teaching Excellence Framework
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2020
Coventry City of Culture 2021