Digital governance and marginalised communities

The 2023/24 Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort will focus on five key themes, each supported by an academic theme lead.

Digital pixelated forest

Digital governance is seen to have the potential to catalyse collaboration and improve equity within decision-making processes (Meijer et al. 2020). Yet digital governance is also a challenge for equity, potentially exacerbating established challenges of power, control and representativeness, while inviting new questions around the biases that can be built into digital infrastructure. Digital governance therefore is a challenge as well as an opportunity for climate change adaptation. As such, this theme will bring together researchers who are interested in investigating equity within climate change adaptation governance and decision-making processes, with a particular focus on how emerging digital infrastructure interacts with marginalised communities. Sub-themes include knowledge-power relations, recognition justice, marginalisation and political capability. 

Meet the fellows

Sara Hamza

Dr Sara Hamza

Ain Shams University  (ASU) - Egypt

Dr Hamza has years of professional and academic experience as an architect, urban designer, and researcher. She works as an Assistant Professor at ASU. Her research interests include energy transition, community energy and environmental planning. She received her MSc from Ain Shams University in 2014, with a thesis titled ‘Environmental Solutions as a Main Approach to Sustainable Neighbourhoods’. In 2020, she obtained her PhD from the Oxford Brookes University, UK, with a thesis entitled ‘Guiding the Renewable Energy Transition in Developing Countries: Towards an Integrated Model for Providing RE in Low-Income Housing in Egypt’. During her time in the UK, she participated in numerous teaching-related activities, including seminars, fieldwork, design studios, and lectures. She worked as an assistant lecturer on two modules related to urban design and planning. She also received the Associate Fellowship from Advance HE. 

Sathishraja Palaniraja

Dr Sathishrajaa Palaniraja

ESIC Medical College and Hospital - India

Dr Palaniraja is an early career researcher from Pondicherry, South India. Having completed his post-graduation (Community Medicine) from Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), he is now Assistant Professor at ESIC Medical College and Hospital. His areas of interest include non-communicable diseases, health inequity among marginalized communities, community-based health policy and systems research, and health promotion. He is currently working on developing and evaluating interventions to improve the health outcomes of vulnerable populations. He has been the principal investigator and co-investigator of several grant projects under the Government of India. He has published over 50 articles in indexed national and international journals. Dr Palaniraja was awarded a full scholarship to attend the prestigious International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Summer School in Lyon, France. He has received a Best Proposal Award for promoting public health practices from the World NCD Federation.

Daniel Otieno (1)

Dr Daniel Otieno

Kenyatta University  (KU) - Kenya

As well as being an educator at Kenyatta University, Dr Otieno is an inaugural member of the Global Centre for Pluralism’s Educating for Pluralism Innovation Lab, in Canada. He holds a PhD in Educational Administration and teaches educational management and research, leadership, and IT for education. He has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on values-based leadership, digital literacy, blended learning, and virtual exchange. His current research focuses are internationalisation through virtual exchange, and pluralism, social justice and climate action. He is a UN certified virtual exchange facilitator for the Soliya Connect Program and the Sharing Perspectives Foundation. He has co-designed and implemented Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) programs, on decolonising higher education, with partners in Europe, Africa and the Americas. As lead consultant at the Center for Values Education, he advocates for equity, diversity and inclusion in workspaces.

Meet the theme lead

Professor Jonathan Ensor Headshot

Professor Jonathan Ensor

Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York

Professor Ensor is a social scientist with research interests in processes that can lead to increasingly equitable human development. Frequently this translates into work alongside marginalised communities focusing on disaster risk reduction and environmental change, the governance and politics of technology and infrastructure, and how processes of contestation and learning can account for power and social justice in ‘resilient’ development. His most recent work has centred on how political capability, knowledge infrastructures and recognition justice can inform how we understand and respond to persistent marginalisation. He has a background in human rights development practice that informs his work.