David Humphreys joined The Open University in 1995 where he is Professor of Environmental Policy, specialising in forestry. A committed environmentalist, he has written two books, the second of which – Logjam: Deforestation and the Crisis of Global Governance – won the International Studies Association’s Harold and Margaret Sprout Award of 2008.
In 2015 he was admitted as an Honorary Fellow to the Institute of Chartered Foresters. In 2016 he received The Open University Teaching Award for Excellence in Innovation. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Impact of work
As a distance teacher Professor Humphreys is a change leader in environmental teaching and technological innovation. He views environmental degradation as the most pressing public welfare issue of our age, and his belief that university educators have a responsibility to respond to this issue has driven his teaching. He is a keen proponent of pedagogies of engagement in which students use their learning to think through how they can respond to environmental problems as concerned citizens. His work has transformed the teaching of Environmental Studies at The Open University, moving beyond the student-as-learner paradigm to a paradigm of care and concern for others, for future generations and for nature. One of his Masters modules broke new ground as the first Open University module to involve a live synchronous simulation in which students worked with two distinct, but interconnected, roles: as a negotiator in a role play simulation, representing a national interest; and as a student of the social sciences.
Plans for the future
His future plans include working with other universities and schools to raise understanding on environmental issues and to workshop pedagogies that are appropriate for teaching outside The Open University. A potential collaborator is the Royal Geographical Society, which operates a Geography Ambassadors scheme, in which geographers work with colleagues from other universities and schools to promote the teaching of geography in the classroom and beyond. He plans to publish on his collaborations and methods for peer-reviewed journals as well as to make video assets on environmental geography for dissemination outside the OU, as well as on the OU’s OpenLearn platform.
Professor of Environmental Policy
The Open University
National Teaching Fellow 2016