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Todd Olive

Todd Olive in BASc graduation regalia in Summer 2022

Contact details

Email: T dot Olive at warwick dot ac dot uk

Twitter: @onlytheolive
Find me on LinkedInLink opens in a new window

Current PhD student


I've been with the Global Sustainable Development division since the start of my Bachelor's studies in late 2017, and am currently in my first year as a PhD student in Global Sustainable Development. My research is in understanding two high-level paradigms of global governance - sustainability, and the emerging paradigm of resilience - and leveraging this understanding to evaluate whether resilience is appropriate as a proposed successor to sustainability. My wider interests span climate change and related policy, particularly mitigation and the implementation gap; representations of sustainability in politics; academic communication and the 'academia-society gap'; inclusive interdisciplinary pedagogies; and economic value systems.

In the wider university environment, I host 'Beyond the Story'Link opens in a new window, a podcast by the School for Cross-Faculty Studies' student sustainability journal, GLOBUSLink opens in a new window, and am also a former Editor in Chief of GLOBUS; I founded and presided over two editions of the Warwick Climate Negotiating ForumLink opens in a new window, a 'mock Conference of Parties' simulation for Warwick students, in 2019 and 2021; and was a leading co-ordinator of the Climate Emergency CoalitionLink opens in a new window, which successfully campaigned for the university to enact net zero emissions targets.

Outside academia, I run a small consultancy specialising in planning and project management principally for commercial construction projects, support the wider 'green buildings' agenda as an accredited expert in the World Bank Group's worldwide green buildings assessment programme, 'EDGE', and work with colleges and other local organisations to raise awareness of the sustainability agenda and its complexities among young people - the professionals and voters of tomorrow. I also occasionally dabble in local politics, and am a former independent accredited electoral observer.

Academic background

Thesis: 'Out of Bounds: Mitigating the Climate Crisis Beyond the City. Scoping a zero-carbon future for development, services, and transport in rural England'. Supervisor: Dr Alastair SmithLink opens in a new window. A report for the Institute of Economic Development. Read more hereLink opens in a new window, and see the final published report on the IED website hereLink opens in a new window.

Thesis: 'Can centrist politics beat the Climate Emergency? Are the value systems of the Liberal Democrats compatible with the policies necessary to fulfill the UK's responsibilities under the Paris Agreement?'. Supervisor: Dr Alastair SmithLink opens in a new window.

Research overview

'Is resilience an appropriate successor to sustainability as a paradigm of governance?'

Diverse critical perspectives argue that the sustainability paradigm[1] of governance has failed to cultivate sufficiently substantive or urgent responses to global challenges. In response, some advocates propose the adoption of ‘resilience’ as an alternative or successor paradigm. In particular, this change seeks to address the absence of overriding environmental imperatives and constraints as well as the persistence of underlying economic logics in operationalised versions of the sustainability paradigm such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In recognition of the overriding imperative of eliminating and reducing barriers to action on these global crises, and the impending end of the SDG Agenda in 2030, this project proposes to examine the veracity of claims that resilience is able to meaningfully address the deficiencies in paradigms of sustainability – both in theoretical terms and when actualised in decision-making scenarios. The project will seek to construct Weberian ‘ideal types’ of each concept from extant academic and public understandings, to be examined in theoretical terms by expert academics and practitioners, and in operationalised terms by exploring how they relate to real-world scenarios in both measuring outcomes and making governance decisions; leveraging these 'ideal types', the project will then evaluate the extent to which resilience materially addressed perceived flaws in the sustainability paradigm, and therefore seek to draw policy-adjacent conclusions regarding whether resilience represents an appropriate successor to paradigm, including relevant high-level implications for policy and policymaking.

[1] Understood for the purposes of this project as broadly reflective of Kuhn’s articulation of scientific paradigms, in which fields of study coalesce around a set of defining concepts, a priori theories and assumptions, and methods; operationalised here, the paradigms of governance concept encompasses the objectives and their constituent indicators with which governance is concerned, the systems of logic that lead to these indicators being important, and the implied rules, imperatives, and norms that govern policy responses to achieve these objectives


Research interests

  • The Climate Crisis - policy; emissions mitigation; the Implementation Gap
  • Perceptions of sustainability - political and public
  • Interdisciplinary pedagogy
  • Economic value systems


Funding and awards

  • Nominated 2020 & 2022 for an Outstanding Student Contribution Award as a graduating student at the University of Warwick

Committee memberships and other roles