Search for courses or information

Dr Rhiannon Firth

Research Fellow

The International Centre for Public Pedagogy (ICPuP), Cass School of Education and Communities

Dr Rhiannon Firth is Research Fellow at Cass School of Education and Communities, where she conducts research on utopian approaches to education and pedagogy. She teaches undergraduate modules on Global Politics and Radical Social Movements, and supervises PhD students on subjects related to public and critical pedagogy, informal education, critical ethnographic and community studies and social movements. She delivers research training on the Professional Doctorate and PGR programmes.

    Dr Rhiannon Firth is based within the Social Sciences department of UEL’s Cass School of Education and Communities. She conducts research and teaching at the intersection of Political Theory and Education, specializing in utopian politics, radical social movements and critical pedagogy.

    Rhiannon undertook her ESRC-funded MA and PhD with the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. Her research focused on utopianism and utopian spaces as conditions of possibility for experimenting with new forms of politics and citizenship. She undertook extensive ethnographic research with intentional communities, autonomous social centres, ecovillages and housing co-operatives throughout the United Kingdom, and her thesis was published as a book by Routledge.

    After her doctoral studies Rhiannon was granted a postdoctoral bursary with the Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Nottingham, in which she developed her research and methodology through a dialogue with the tradition of critical pedagogy. She also has interests in alternative cosmologies and epistemologies, particularly utopian theories of time and temporality found in philosophy, counter-culture, sci-fi and utopian literature, as well as critical cartographies, psychogeography and utopian mapping practices. Theoretically, she is informed by post-structuralism, post-colonialism, anarchism, feminism, critical pedagogy and deep ecology.

    Deputy Chair of the School Research Degrees Subcommittee
    Deputy Research Degrees Leader
    Research Mentor
    Events organizer for The International Centre for Public Pedagogies
    Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
    Member of the Political Studies Association (PSA)
    Member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies (JCEPS)


    I am currently writing about anarchist approaches to climate change, disaster and risk, in relation to my ongoing interests in utopian approaches to social change, critical pedagogy and radical social movements.

    I am involved in various grassroots education and community projects including popular education workshops, arts and theatre projects, and see community engagement as an integral part of my research.

    I am experienced in undertaking fieldwork using a range of qualitative methods, particularly critical ethnographic and participative methodologies.


    • test



    Firth, R. (2012) Utopian Politics: Citizenship and Practice, London: Routledge.


    Firth, R. (2016) “Somatic pedagogies: Critiquing and resisting the affective discourse of the neoliberal state from an embodied anarchist perspective”, ephemera: theory and politics in organization, 16(4): 121-142

    Fererri, M., Firth, R. and Lang, A. (2016) “Future(s) Perfect: uchronian mapping as a research and visualisation tool in the ‘fringes’ of the Olympic Park”, Living Maps Review 1.1

    Firth, R. and Robinson, A. (2016): "For a revival of feminist consciousness-raising: horizontal transformation of epistemologies and transgression of neoliberal TimeSpace", Gender and Education, 28(3): 343-358.

    Firth, R. (2014) “Critical Cartography as Anarchist Method? Utopian Extrapolation and Pedagogy” Interface: A journal by and for Social Movements 6: 1 special issue on pedagogy and social movements, pp. 156-184

    Firth, R. and Robinson, A. (2014) “For the Past Yet to Come: Utopian conceptions of time and becoming” Time and Society, 23: 3, 380-401

    Firth, R. (2013) “Toward a Critical Utopian and Pedagogical Methodology”, Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 35:4, 256-276

    Firth, R. (2012). “Transgressing Urban Utopianism: Autonomy and Active Desire”, Geografiska Annaler Series B: Human Geography, 94 (2): 89-106.

    Book Chapters

    Firth, R. and Robinson, A. (2017) “From the Unlearned Un-Man to a Pedagogy without Moulding: Stirner, consciousness raising, and the production of difference”, in Robert Haworth& John Elmore (Eds) Out of the Ruins’: The Emergence of New Radical Informal Learning Spaces, PM Press. Pp. 56-73.

    Firth, R. (2016) "Monsters Take to the Streets! Monstrous Street-Art as Pedagogy of Resistance to Post-Olympic Regeneration in Hackney Wick?" in László Munteán and Hans Christian Post (eds.) Landscapes of Monstrosity. Oxford: Inter-disciplinary Press. Pp. 23-38.

    Firth, R. and Robinson, A. (2012) “The Non-linear Future of Alternative Presents: Temporal Utopianism and Immanent Revolution” in Cecile Lawrence, Natalie Churn and Christian Garland (Eds.), Movements in Time, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholar: 241-254.


    Firth, R. (2017) “Maps and the 21st Century: Drawing the Line [Review]”, Living Maps Review 2.

    Firth, R. (2017) “Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani & Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarashina (eds.), The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities [Review]”, Anarchist Studies, 25.2.


    Firth, R. (2015) "Critical Cartography", The Occupied Times of London, Issue 27: Discipline/States/Borders, p. 9. Available at:

    Research Reports

    Briggs, S., Finch, J. and Firth, R. (2016) Evaluation of a non-statutory ‘Place of Calm’, a service which provides support after a suicidal crisis to inform future commissioning intentions. Project Report. Cass School of Education and Communities for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation.

    Firth, R. and Preston, J. (2017) Evaluation of SE+ (School Effectiveness Plus). Project Report. Cass School of Education and Communities for Essex Local Education Authority.


    Funding and project experience
    Oct 2016-July 2018, Research assistance on “Careers Clusters in the Legacy Boroughs”, Charlotte Chadderton (UEL Lead) project, Skills Funding Agency.

    Jan 2016 -March 2016, Co-I on the project “Evaluation of a non-statutory ‘Place of Calm’ for those in Eastbourne who have had suicidal thoughts” for East Sussex County Council, with PI Prof. Stephen Briggs (£10, 230).

    Oct 2015, Research trip to New York undertaken for the project “Threats to infrastructures: consolidation, collaboration and future orientation”, John Preston (PI) (approx. £3,000).

    Sept 2011 – May 2012, Postdoctoral Bursary Award, Centre for Advanced Studies, University of Nottingham (£9,000).

    March 2009, Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice competitive Post Graduate Students Research Fund for conference attendance (£225) and fieldwork (£700).   

    Nov 2008 – Feb 2009, Research assistance on “Flagship project for identifying and embedding employability skills in University modules”, Centre for Integrative Learning, University of Nottingham.

    Sept 2004, ESRC 1+3 Studentship, “Utopian Citizenship Theory and Practice” (circa £50,000).

    Nov 2008 – Feb 2009, Research assistant on “Identifying and embedding employability skills on non-vocational degree programmes”, Centre for Integrative Learning, University of Nottingham.


    Jan-April 2016, Consultancy fee, “Schools Effectiveness Plus (SE+) Pilot Evaluation project”, Essex Local Education Authority (£3,000).

    Nov-Dec 2016, PI on “London Environmental Educators’ Forum (LEEF) Training Evaluation Report”, Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) (£1,000).

    May 2013, Consultation fee, “Database of radical social justice spaces in East London and pilot critical cartographic method with Hornbeam Café”, Centre for Social Justice, University of East London, (£1,000)  

    Research networks and memberships

    Active member and events organizer for the International Centre for Public Pedagogies (ICPuP), University of East London.

    Steering Group member, Living Maps,

    Active member of the Anarchist Studies Network (ASN), Walking Artists Network (WAN) and Critical Pedagogies working group.


    Political utopianism; radical social movements; global resistance; anarchist studies; critical pedagogy; critical methodology; feminism; post-structuralism; critical theories of embodiment and affect; deep ecology; critical mapping, cartography and visualization tools; anti-gentrification and housing activism; community organising; intentional and autonomous communities; utopian theories of time, temporality and social change; ecology and sustainability; grassroots approaches to confronting climate change, disaster and risk.

    I am open to receiving enquiries about PhD supervision in any of these areas.


    Module Leader: AI5303 Radical Social Movements (level 5)

    Seminar tutor: AI4304 International Studies (level 4)

    Programme administration: 

    Deputy Chair of the School Research Degrees Subcommittee
    Deputy Research Degrees Leader.

    Research training on the Ed.D. Professional Doctorate in Education:

    The Literature Review
    Feminist Methodologies
    Mobile and Spatial Methodologies

    PhD Supervision:
    Katya Nasim, “Private renting and emergent political subjectivities in London’s housing crisis”.
    Silhouette Bushay, “Hip Hop Feminism and Hip Hop Pedagogy: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of Black British Women”.
    Tracie Trimmer-Platman, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?: Examining youth work definitions and value."
    Fatuma Farah, “Examining perspectives on female genital mutilation (FGM) among affected communities in the UK”.