Elaine Hooton Profile Picture

Elaine Hooton

The Open University


Written In Stone: Evaluating Geodiversity as a Natural, Social and Economic Asset


  • Professor Clare Warren, The Open University
  • Professor Richard Holliman, The Open University
  • Dr Stewart Clarke, The National Trust
  • Dr Jonathan Larwood, Natural England

PhD Summary

My aim is to develop an approach to assessing geodiversity as a natural, social and economic asset. This may involve work around concepts such as ecosystem services and natural capital. The approach needs to be transferable and allow organisations, such as the National Trust, to better understand their geological assets to benefit visitor experience and for outreach.

Previous activity

Prior to starting my PhD, I worked as a teacher for 34 years. I graduated from UCL, in the days before mass computing, with a geography degree and then qualified as a primary teacher. Over my teaching career I had many wonderful opportunities, becoming a primary Head Teacher and then moving into teaching older age groups. I always maintained a keen interest in environmental issues and developments, eventually returning to my geographical roots to teach A-level geography for nearly a decade. I really enjoy being outdoors and so I qualified as a Duke of Edinburgh Leader and also led study trips abroad for students. Alongside my core teaching I acted as a supervisor for students undertaking the Extended Project Qualification and I really enjoyed this mentoring and facilitating role.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I have always been really interested by the discovery aspect of learning. Doctoral Research allows you to plunge into your study area in great depth and be very self-managed in how you do this. As well as developing academic skills and expert knowledge the process is very creative. I enjoy the ‘journey’ of exploration, even when it’s not clear exactly where you are heading. In undertaking research, you can also contribute to understanding the world better and hopefully, therefore, play a role in securing social and environmental benefits.

Why did you choose CENTA?

CENTA offered the opportunity to work within a world-class network. The training support was very attractive, especially as I have had such a long break from higher education and it has changed so much over that time. I would like to develop as a confident and skilled researcher and so being connected to many leading universities, institutions and facilities is an excellent opportunity.

Future plans

Studying with CENTA on this project opens potential opportunities to work in consultancy, on policy or within environmental organisations. It may lead on to further research opportunities too. At the moment I am very open to where my ‘journey’ will lead. The conferences, placements and training with CENTA will enable me to build skills and connections with potential employers, as well as being much fun!