Dr Debbie Hopkins is an environmental sociologist and human geographer, working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Sustainability (CSAFE), University of Otago, New Zealand.  Debbie is interested in the social and environmental geographies of travel and transportation, as well as geographies of mobilities. Debbie is leading two workstreams; Generation Y Mobilities and Urban Freight, as well as contributing to the Future Transport study.

The Generation Y Mobilities workstream is investigating changing patterns of generation Y mobility in New Zealand, situating this research within the global context. During 2014, 51 semi-structured interviews were conducted across New Zealand with 18-35 year olds to investigate this learn to drive perceptions and behaviours, perceptions of transport modes, and travel substitution, a report from this research will be available in May 2015. A younger cohort of generation Y is being investigated through the Built Environment and Active Transport to School (BEATS) project led by Dr Sandy Mandic (School of Physical Education).

The BEATS project is an interdisciplinary, mixed method study employing quantitative surveys of high school students, qualitative focus groups with students, parents, and school teachers, and semi structured interviews with school principals.  All Dunedin high schools are participating in the BEATS study, and data collection will finish during 2015. Preliminary findings from the 2014 data collection are available on the BEATS website;

The Urban Freight project will take place during 2015, and will focus on developing a picture of the urban freight landscape in New Zealand. In particular, the energy cultures framework will be used to develop an understanding of the specific challenges and opportunities for urban freight at a range of operational scales. This will involve interviews with industry organisations, freight managers, and freight drivers. The urban freight project is being supported by a systematic review of published urban freight research, the findings of the review should be available in mid-2015.

Alongside the generation Y research, and the urban freight project, Debbie is working with Janet Stephenson (workstream leader) and Adam Doering to use the Delphi Technique to explore transport expert’s perceptions of the future of transport; the trends, innovations, and step changes that could transition the transport system away from business-as-usual fossil fuel dependency. Following an international Delphi in 2013, and a New Zealand Delpi in 2014, the team are now finalising analysis and reports will be available throughout 2015.


Click to view all Energy Cultures workstreams

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