Dr Frances Ryfield, PhD

  • Lecturer in Human Geography
  • Institute of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies
  • Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA)
  • Geography
Dr Frances Ryfield, PhD


I am a cultural and historical geographer with interests in the environmental humanities and creative industries.

My research explores art and heritage in environmental policy and practice. This work combines ethnographic approaches with artistic practice. Before moving to the University of Cumbria, I undertook Postdoctoral research at the University College Dublin on the Cultural Value of Coastlines. This was a transdisciplinary project between the Earth Institute, Humanities Institute and external partners.

I especially enjoy engaging with heritage and environmental debates with a wide range of audiences, most recently via an exhibition of artwork based on the archival research Tracing Coastlines (2014) and as a specialist researcher for ITV’s Best Walks with a View television series (2015). 

Qualifications and memberships

Ph.D in Geography (AHRC CDA), University of Exeter, UK

MA Landscape and Culture (with distinction), University of Nottingham, UK

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Fellow Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Secretary, Coastal and Marine Research Group, RGS (with IBG)


Academic and research interests

My current research contributions can be understood through three broad threads: 

  1. Practising environmental heritage in changing environments - how the past is understood and presented in the face of uncertain futures.
  2. Critical creativities - understanding creative practice as a democratic and inclusive process that undermines disciplinary boundaries of knowledge-making.
  3. Re-thinking researching policy - employing concepts of the site-specific and emotion from the arts and applying these to policy research (specifically through the framework of ecosystem services) to question assumptions of universal applicability and mobility.

Research supervision

I would welcome enquiries from research students in my areas of interest.



Ryfield F, Cabana D, Brannigan J, et al. (2019) Conceptualizing ‘sense of place’ in cultural ecosystem services: A framework for interdisciplinary research. Ecosystem Services 36. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2019.100907.

Rylands F (2017) The Creative Conundrum: a site-specific approach to the policy and practice of heritage and change on the Jurassic Coast. Ph.D. University of Exeter. Available at: https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/28004.

Rylands, F. (2014), Tracing coast-lines, [Exhibition], The Bomb Shelter, Beer. 


Thomas, N., Ryfield F., Ferraby, R. and Cook, I. eds. (in press) Attentive Geographies. Axminster: Uniform Press.

Ryfield, F. (in press) A geomorphic paradox: performing histories of change as the land slips away, In: Jones, R., Robertson, I., Harvey, D.C. and Carter, T. eds. Heritage, Modernity and Practice. Abingdon: Routledge.

Brannigan, J., Ryfield, F., Cabana, D., Crowe, T. (in press). ‘the languo of flows’: Ecosystem Services, Cultural Value, and the Nuclear Legacy in the Irish Sea, Environmental Humanities.

Key Conferences

Rylands, F. (2018) Mapping heritage onto policy: contested values and multiple ways of knowing coastlines, International Conference of Historical Geographers, 15th-20th July 2018, University of Warsaw, Warsaw.

Brannigan, J., Crowe, T., Rylands, F. and Cabana Permuy, D. (2018). The Cultural Value of Coastlines: The Humanities and Coastal Ecosystems, Imagining the Coast: a public symposium on the humanities and the sea, 14th-16th September, Fairfield University, Mystic Seaport, USA.

Rylands, F., Brannigan, J., Crowe, T. and Cabana Permuy, D. (2018) Emotional Ecologies: addressing cultural values in coastal and marine ecosystem services, 12th May 2018, Conference of Irish Geographers, Maynooth University, Maynooth.

Rylands, F. (2017) If you’re not on the list, you’re not getting in: contemplating designation and expulsion in the context of natural heritage, Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference, 29th August-1st September 2017, Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers, London. 

Rylands, F. (2017) Drawing to discover: researching historical cultures of geology and creativity, Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference, 29th August-1st September 2017, Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers, London. 

Rylands, F. (2015) The erosion paradox: creatively communicating risk and change on the Jurassic Coast, American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, 20th-25th April 2015, Hyatt Regency, Chicago. 

co-convened and chaired the Heritage and Changing Environments session in which this paper was presented. 

Rylands, F. (2015) Crafting the archive: re-searching on the Jurassic Coast WHS, International Conference of Historical Geography, 5th-10th July 2015, Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers, London.  

Rylands, F. (2014) Exploring Erosion: when the land slips away, Green Connections Conference, 1st September 2014, University of Exeter, Exeter.