• Departmental Research Lecturer, Enterprise and the Environment and Programme Director, Executive Education

email +44 (0)1865 614950

Academic Profile

Dr Caitlin McElroy is a Research and Teaching Fellow at the Smith School. She holds a BA (with Honours) from the University of Pennsylvania in History and Environmental Studies (2006), an MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy (with Distinction) from the University of Oxford (2007), and a DPhil from the University of Oxford (2012). A Clarendon Scholarship supported the DPhil.

The focus of her research has revolved around the interactions between the mining industry, environment, and development. Most recently, the economic geography DPhil thesis addressed the institutional challenges to private sector involvement in development through an investigation of the use of corporate foundations in the mining industry. This research involved fieldwork with major mining firms in South Africa, Namibia, and Chile as well as interviews at corporate headquarters in London.

She is currently the SSEE project manager for curriculum development for Saïd Business School's GOTO programme in Water Management and Markets.

She is developing a programme of Executive Education at the Smith School as well as furthering a research stream in various aspects of corporate environmental management. The executive education offerings require the collaborative design of new courses and the assessment of need for specific new knowledge to help guide improved business sustainability and positive environmental futures.

This work and the upcoming interaction with incoming course participants is an excellent opportunity to stay alert to changing trends, interests, and opportunities.

As a researcher her work continues with the extractives sector. Through a range of projects and partnerships she is addressing issues such as the improved sustainability and development of resource driven economies and the creation of tools to assist corporations in the management of their environmental and social risks and opportunities. It is expected that this research will lead to further publications, information for future course development, and the potential for new partnerships with industry.


The Politics of Oil and Gas (MSc elective co-taught with Dr Kärg Kama): The importance of oil and gas to contemporary politics and international relations seems clear enough. It is widely recognized that oil and gas play a critical part in the politics of both producing and consuming states, yet more sophisticated accounts of the relation between hydrocarbon extraction and politics have only recently been published in human geography. While there is an established literature on the existence of the 'resource curse', which is said to blight the political and economic life of many oil and gas producing states, other perspectives from notable geographical studies are starting to expand the discourse. This literature does so through both its use of theory and attention to new subjects such as the operations of oil and gas companies, the possibility and implications of global resource scarcity, and the politics of hydrocarbon extraction in particular regions, including the Middle East, the Gulf of Guinea and the United States. One aim of this course is to enable students to gain a critical overview of the existing literature on the politics of oil and gas, highlighting where future research is needed. A second aim is to consider what empirical and conceptual difficulties still need to be addressed if we are to develop a better understanding of the political geographies of oil and gas and extractive industries more generally.

Current Graduate Research Students

Micol Chiesa

Do firms forget about the environment? Evidence from publicly listed corporations

Marcel Metzner

Taking Planetary Boundaries Seriously: The Role of Accounting Practices in Corporate Climate Change Mitigation

Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)

Elizabeth Harnett
Completed DPhil in 2018

The diffusion of responsible investment discourses and practices: the role and impact of investment consultants

Selected Publications


Journal Articles

Book Chapters


Working Papers

  • McElroy, C.A. Adaptation and Path Dependency: The Role of New Organisations in Institutional Change in the Mining Sector. (Working paper).
  • McElroy C. A. (2014) Structure and Knowledge: Corporate foundations in the mining industry fitness for regional development. (Working paper).