Pete Barbrook-Johnson

BA (UEA), MSc (Imperial), PhD (Surrey)

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Pete is a Senior Research Fellow and UKRI Innovation Fellow based at the University of Surrey and hosted by CRESS and CECAN. His fellowship website is at

In his fellowship, Pete is currently working on the appraisal and evaluation of innovative public-private partnerships. These are partnerships that move beyond much maligned private finance initiatives, and seek to build long lasting multi-partner relationships between the private, public, and third sectors, to deliver Nexus infrastructure and services. The methodological approach and tools he is using are those at the cutting edge of social and complexity science research methods. 

Pete has used a range of research methods in his research including agent-based modelling of social and policy systems, participatory systems mapping, and 'traditional' qualitative and quantitative social research methods. His main research interests focus on the interaction between environmental policy, social science, and complexity science.

He has conducted research with and for the likes of UK government departments/agencies such as Defra, BEIS, the Environment Agency, and the Health and Safety Executive; and businesses such as Anglian Water and Risk Solutions. Internationally, he has collaborated with, and/or produced research for, the eThekwini Municipality Government (Durban, South Africa), the Emilia-Romagna Regional Government (Italy), and CGIAR centres in Ethiopia.

Previously, Pete was one of CECAN's Knowledge Integrators, and a Research Fellow at the Policy Studies Institute (PSI). Before this, as a postdoctoral research fellow at CRESS, Pete has worked on: (i) the ePolicy project ( concerning the development of a suite of decision support tools for policy makers, particularly focused on an ABM of solar panel adoption in Italy; and (ii) the TELLME project ( concerning the development of an ABM of government communication during epidemics. Pete is currently working on the ERIE ( and P2Pvalue ( projects concerning the appliction of complexity science to real-world problems and commons based peer-production communities respectively.

Pete studied Economics at the University of East Anglia, before completing his MSc in Environmental Technology (specialising in Environmental Economics and Policy) at Imperial College London in 2008. Towards the end of his MSc Pete discovered social simulation and used it in his final thesis concerning water scarcity and violent conflict. Pete’s PhD thesis focused on policy and theoretical applications of agent-based modelling on the topic of farmer adoption of soil conservation. He used Daniel Dennett's concept of the 'curious nonexpert' to inspire his proposed use of ABM in the policy process. He also conducted qualitative research into the use of models in environmental policy more broadly.

Peter is on twitter @bapeterj