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Dr Alastair Smith

Dr Alastair Smith


Speaking to me:

Please call me Alastair; pronounced "æləsteə"

List to me pronouncing it.

My chosen pronouns are: he/his

Tel.: +44(0)24765 28869
Room: R3.30 Ramphal Building

Arranging a conversation:

My strong preference is meet students by mutually convenient appointment. To make one, please request a Teams chat through Outlook Web (here's my video of how) - this is good learning for life/work.

If you have tried the above, and it has not worked for any reason, other options are:

1) Attend my Virtual Office Hours:

Please drop into my Virtual Office Hours, here, at the following times: Term 1 & 2, Tuesday 10:00 to 11:00 & Friday 10:00 to 11:00. No appointment necessary, you will just need to register on arrival virtual arrival.

2) Email me.

Senior Teaching Fellow


One of the main characteristics of my academic career has been my highly inter- and multi-disciplinary approach to the issues of Global Sustainable Development. Following an undergraduate education in History and Politics (B.A. Hons, Joint Equal, York University) I worked in Central and South America on micro-business/income generation projects for rural communities. On my return to the UK I completed an interdisciplinary MPhil research master’s degree at the University of Oxford, learning the additional disciplinary approaches offered by Anthropology and Economics. I then furthered my interests through PhD research at Cardiff University, where I critically investigated the public purchases of ‘fair trade’ rice from Malawi, for use in Scottish schools, as a tool of UK international sustainable development policy.

Following my academic apprenticeship I worked at Cardiff University, being involved in a wide range of externally and institutionally funded projects, covering issues of market creation for fair trade products in Europe and the developing world (Brazil, Kenya and South Africa), microfinance access and governance (Africa and India), and food security in the ecologically fragile context of Caribbean islands. I have also regularly undertaken consultancy work for national and international NGOS and the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID), for example building resources for development practitioners promoting sustainable urban livelihoods.

A second defining aspect of my work has been significant investment in my role as a university teacher. Despite initially working as a Research Assistant (ESRC center for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society) and then Research Fellow (School of Planning and Geography) I became increasing involvement in teaching and completed a Postgraduate Certification in University Teaching and Learning (PCUTL), leading to Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). In order to develop my experience I spent time outside the UK, working as Resident Lecturer at an independent research and teaching center (administered by the US based not-for-profit the School for Field Studies) in the ecologically and socially fragile area of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Here I developed my understanding of place-based and holistic research-led teaching and learning.

In addition to my role as a Senior Teaching Fellow with the GSD program at Warwick, I am a Research Associate of the Global Drugs Policy Observatory (Swansea University, Wales, UK) and a Member of the Board of Directors at Fair Trade Wales (Wales, UK).




Since joining the University of Warwick in December 2016, I have been nominated for a University Teaching Excellence Award and recognised on behalf of the Vice Chancellor for levels of contribution and performance. I became a member of the Warwick International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA). I am passionate about experimenting with, and sharing pedagogical innovation. Some examples include:

  • "Localising Teaching for Global Sustainable Development: Student Research-Based, Policy and Practice Proposals for Coventry". Exploring the Civic Curriculum, Friday 9 June 2017, the Great Hall, University of Leeds. [Slides].
  • "Mainstreaming ‘Employability’ Skills Through Communities of Praxis: Policy Pitching for Global Sustainable Development". Learning and Teaching Showcase 2017: Learning communities, Monday 3 July, Oculus, University of Warwick. Presented with Debbie Smith, Nathalie Dalton-King and Ninna Makrinov. [Slides].



  • International trade and trade justice, governance for sustainable development and its political economy;
  • local and international food regimes, food security and food sovereignty;
  • livelihood decision making and its theorization, the informal economy, diversification and structural change;
  • Latin American drug markets and the interaction between drug policy and development practices; and
  • place-based, local sustainable development.


Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • Paddock, J. & Smith, A. (2017). What role for trade in food sovereignty? Insights from a small island archipelago. Journal of Peasant Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2016.1260553. [Publisher].
  • Doherty, B., Smith, A., & Parker, S., (2015) ‘Fair Trade Market Creation and Marketing in the Global South’. Geoforum, 67. [Publisher]. [Repository].
  • Baker, S., Paddock, J., Smith, A., Cullen-Unsworth, L., & Unsworth R., (2015), ‘An Ecosystems Perspective for Food Security in the Caribbean: Seagrass Meadows in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI)’. Ecosystem Services, 11. Special Issue: Marine Economics and Policy related to Ecosystem Services: Lessons from the Mediterranean, Black and Caribbean Regional Seas. [Publisher]. [Repository].
  • Valasquez, D., Smith, A., and Sarkis, J. (2014), ‘Managing the Transition to Critical Green Growth: The “Green Growth State”’. Futures, 64. [Publisher]. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2014), ‘Access to the Fairtrade System: The geography of certification for social justice’. Food Chain. Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 49-65. [Publisher]. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2013), ‘Continuing the legacy of David Livingstone: The contribution of fair trade to international development’. Expository Times 125(2), pp. 53-66. [Publisher]. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2013), ‘What Does it Mean To Do Fair Trade? Ontology, praxis, and the ‘Fair for Life’ certification system’, Social Enterprise Journal. Vol. 9, No, 1 pp. 53-72. [Publisher]. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2013), ‘Fair Trade Governance and Diversification: The Experience of the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi’, Geoforum. Vol. 48, pp. 114–125. [Publisher]. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2010), ‘Lack of Rigour Defending Fair Trade: Some important clarifications of a distorting account - a reply to Peter Griffiths’, Economic Affairs, Vol. 30 No. 2.[Publisher]. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2009), ‘Fair Trade Diversification and Structural Change: Towards a broader framework of analysis’, Oxford Journal of Development Studies. Vol. 37 No. 4. [Publisher]. [Repository].
    • Winner of ‘Sanjaya Lall Award’ for Outstanding Contribution to the field of development research 2008-2010.
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2009), ‘Evaluating the Criticisms of Fair Trade: How strong is the argument that consumers and businesses should abandon Fair Trade as a means to socialise their economic decisions?’. Economic Affairs. Vol. 19 No. 4. [Publisher]. [Repository].

Book chapters

  • Smith Alastair M. (2020), "Sustainable Development". Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education. Springer. [Publisher].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2019). "Innovative approaches to teaching sustainable development". Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education. Springer. [Publisher].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2017). ‘Access to the Fairtrade System: The geography of certification for social justice'. Fairtrade Impacts: Lessons from around the world. Ed. Valery Nelson. Practical Action Publishing. [Publisher].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2015), ‘”Fair Trade Places”, The Handbook of Research on Fair Trade’. Eds. Laura Raynolds & Elizabeth Bennett. Edward Elgar Publishing. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2013), ‘Cross-Border Innovation in South-North Fair Trade Supply Chains: The opportunities and problems of integrating fair trade governance into northern public procurement’, Eds. Diego Alfonso Vazquez Brust, Joseph Sarkis, James Cordeiro, Cross-border Partnerships for Sustainability and Innovation: A role for South-driven Sustainability? Springer. [Repository].
  • Morley, A. S., Sonnino, R. and Smith, A. 2012. Leading by Procuring: The power of the public sector purchasing. In: Rigling Gallagher, D. ed. Environmental Leadership: A Reference Handbook. London: SAGE Publications, pp. 113-121. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M., & F. VanderHoff B. (2012), ‘Comercio Justo México: Potential lessons for Fairtrade?’. Edited by Peter Utting, Darryl Reed & Ananya Mukherjee Reed. Business Regulation and Non-State Actors: Whose Standards? Whose Development? Routledge. London. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M., (2011), ‘Fair Trade’, in Green Business Encyclopaedia. Edited by Paul Robbins and Juliana Mansvelt. Sage. London.
  • Smith, Alastair M., (2011), ‘Green Washing’, in Green Business Encyclopaedia. Edited by Paul Robbins and Juliana Mansvelt. Sage. London.

Other publications

  • Smith, Alastair M. (2019). Climate Emergency Finally Recognised: Coventry Council to lead the world by doing nothing differently… United Nations Association, Coventry Branch. [Online].
  • Brown A. & Smith, A (2016). Topic Guide: Livelihoods and Urbanisation. Evidence on Demand. Department for International Development. London. [Publisher].
  • Smith, Alastair M. & M. Little (2016). The Fruits of Tourism in Panama and Costa Rica. School for Field Studies, Bocas del Toro, Panama. [Blog].
  • Smith, Alastair M. & L Ceballos (2015). The Forgotten Fruit of Bocas del Toro: The social, cultural and economic story of cacao. School for Field Studies, Bocas del Toro, Panama. [Blog].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2015). First Impression of Field-Based Teaching and Learning. School for Field Studies. School for Field Studies, Bocas del Toro, Panama. [Blog].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (November 2015). View From the Ground: Bocas del Toro; Drugs in Paradise. Global Drug Policy Observatory, Swansea. [Blog].
  • Smith, Alastair M (2015), ’Can Buying ‘Freely Traded’ Coffee be Socially Just?’ Open Democracy. [Publisher].
  • Smith, Alastair M (2015), ’View from the Ground: Infrastructure and Coca in Guaviare, Colombia‘. Global Drugs Policy Observatory, Swansea University, Wales, UK. [Blog].
  • Smith, Alastair M (2015), UK ‘Fairtrade’ Universities miss the point: Of both fair trade alternatives and the real function of universities. open Democracy. [Publisher].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2015). ‘Inclusive Growth: Improving Microfinance Regulation to Support Growth and Innovation in Microenterprise’. The Republic of Kenya Background Country Report. Informal Economies Observatory, School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University. [Repository].
  • Paddock, J & Smith, A (2015), ‘Education for culture? A comment on educational alignment, development and food production in the Turks and Caicos Islands‘. PLACE Institute, Cardiff University, Wales, UK. [Publisher].
  • Baker, S., Paddock, J., Cullen-Unsworth, L., Smith, A., & Unsworth R. (2013). Biodiversity and food security: Developing a collaborative policy for seagrass management in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). [Repository].
  • Smith, A. 2013. ‘Critical thinking about Fair Trade Nations: Evaluating Fair Trade's contribution to economic development’. Discussion Paper. Wales International Development Hub.
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2013), ‘Fair Trade and 'The Economist's Critique'‘. Open Democracy. [Publisher].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2011), ‘Just Trading Scotland: Impact of fairly traded Kilombero rice in Malawi’. Just Trading Scotland. Paisley. [Publisher].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2010), ‘Responding to Commentary? Changes in the Regulations of the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (on defining small farmers and development practice)’. Comment and Analysis Paper. BRASS. Cardiff. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2009), ‘Creative Public Procurement of Green and Fair, Local and Global’. Comment and Analysis Paper. BRASS. Cardiff. [Repository].
  • Smith, Alastair M. (2008), ‘A Response to the Adam Smith Report and a New Way to Think About Measuring the Content of the Fair Trade Cup‘. Comment and Analysis Paper. BRASS. Cardiff. [Repository].

Book reviews

  • Smith, Alastair M., (2012) ‘Book Review: Ryan, O. (2011) Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa’, Journal of International Development.