Dr Elizabeth Robson

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

History History, Heritage, and Politics Pathfoot Building University of Stirling FK9 4LA

Dr Elizabeth Robson

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About me

About me

I am an inter-disciplinary researcher with a professional background working internationally in community development. My research interests include: collaborative knowledge production; people-centred methods; and participatory heritage management, placemaking, and planning processes.

I received my PhD in 2021 from the division of History, Heritage and Politics at the University of Stirling. My doctoral research, in collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland, focused on qualitative methods for assessing the contemporary social values associated with the historic environment. My academic background is in History (BA, University of Exeter), Environment, Development and Policy (MA, University of Sussex), and Social Anthropology (MRes, University of Aberdeen).

Following completion of my PhD, I worked on both national and international research projects, most recently as a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the AHRC-funded Place-Based Research Programme (based in Urban Studies at University of Glasgow), which is exploring the ways that research in arts and humanities disciplines contributes to place-based agendas.

I rejoined the University of Stirling in August 2023 as Postdoctoral Research Fellow on a collaborative project with the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) titled 'Social values of NTS heritage places: towards an organisational approach'. This three-year project (2023-2026) will further develop our understanding of the role participatory methods play in assessing the social values of the historic environment and explore how knowledge of social values is applied within organisational policies and practices.


Saltire Emerging Researcher Award

This award, made through the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities, allowed me to spend three-months on exchange to the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History at the University of Oslo (Norway), where I participated in the University’s ‘Heritage Experience Initiative’, a multi-disciplinary network of researchers that aims to develop critical heritage research in close co-operation with the heritage sector.

Professional membership

Association of Critical Heritage Studies (Member)

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (Fellow)

University Contribution

Member of the Research Environment Group
The University of Stirling Research Environment Group (REG) reports to the University Research Committee and has cross Faculty representation from both academic and professional service teams. It leads on development and coordination of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers action plan and the HR Excellence in Research Award.


My research interests are in the contemporary significance of what might be broadly termed historic places, although by no means limited to formally designated heritage, and the impact they have on society. I am particularly interested in understanding how participatory methods and collaborative approaches operate in both research and place management processes.

My doctoral research involved trialling a range of rapid, qualitative, and participatory methods to assess and evidence the social values associated with the historic environment - including people's sense of belonging, identity, or place. The methods were trialled across seven case study sites, ranging from Iron Age monuments to inner-city laneways. In addition to my academic thesis, I translated my findings on applying these methods in different contexts into a toolkit of practical guidance for heritage practitioners (https://socialvalue.stir.ac.uk/).

Since completing my doctorate, I have applied the methods in other projects, including as part of a European JPI-CH project called Deep Cities, which explored how evidence of historic urban transformation impacts on the values associated with modern cityscapes. As Research Assistant, I applied qualitative, participatory research methods to explore the values associated with two sites, one in Edinburgh and one in London. The overall project leader was Torgrim Guttormsen, from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), and the Stirling team was led by PI Chiara Bonacchi and Co-PI Siân Jones. Further details of the project are available here: https://curbatheri.niku.no/.

My studies have coalesced around theories of collaborative knowledge production, situated expertise, and working productively with multiplicity and complexity. My research has a strong applied focus and the collaborations with Historic Environment Scotland during my PhD and with the National Trust for Scotland in my current project provide a critical grounding in the real-world realities of heritage practice. Such collaborations enrich my academic work, as well as supporting knowledge exchange and practice-orientated outputs.

I am continuing to explore the relationships between people and place as Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the collaborative project ‘Social values of National Trust for Scotland heritage place: towards an organisational approach’. This project is led by Prof. Siân Jones and myself, as Research Fellow, working closely with colleagues from the Trust. The research has been funded by the National Trust for Scotland and the project forms part of a wider partnership between the Trust and the University of Stirling.

Outputs (14)



Graham E, Hambly J, Robson L, Rockman M, Gao Q, Foster S, Miller S & Dawson T (2018) Learning from Loss Climate Stories. [Web]. https://issuu.com/joannahambly/docs/learning_from_loss_climate_stories



Since 2020, I have contributed to Masters-level Heritage courses at the University of Stirling and the University of Aberdeen, leading seminars on social value and co-leading student fieldtrips. I have also provided tutoring in research design (3rd year Undergraduate course at University of Stirling) and supervised several Undergraduate and Masters dissertation students (at the University of Stirling and University of Glasgow).

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