Professor Tanya Wyatt was conferred to the Fellowship of the Academy in autumn 2022. She is a green criminologist specialising in crimes that affect the environment including wildlife crimes, waste crime, and pollution. Tanya is currently the Lead Researcher at the Research and Trend Analysis Branch for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, where she is leading on the first-ever ‘Global Analysis on Crimes that Affect the Environment’ report. Publications such as these form the basis for UN Member States to propose resolutions and decisions that directly impact their legislation, policies and activities.
Tanya holds a BA in Biology from Mills College (Oakland, California), a MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, Michigan) and a PhD in Criminology from the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK). She was previously a deputy sheriff and police officer in the United States before serving as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, where she assisted a non-governmental organization to design and secure funding for anti-human trafficking and anti-violence against women projects.
Tanya became an academic in 2010 and earned a Professorship in 2018. She has been awarded numerous grants from the Scottish Government, British Academy, UK Economic and Social Research Council, and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. She has written and edited dozens of books, journal articles and book chapters alone as well as in collaboration with colleagues around the world.
Why do the social sciences matter?
The social sciences are critical to solving the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Whereas life and physical sciences uncover how the environment is degrading, only the social sciences can develop solutions to prevent, change, and disrupt human behaviours that are leading to this degradation.
What do you enjoy about your work?
I enjoy designing and implementing new research projects that will answer questions that have not been answered before. Often this means collaborating with equally passionate colleagues, many of whom are new to research, which means I have the pleasure of supporting them on their own journeys.
What is the most urgent issue social scientists need to tackle today and within the next three years?
The most urgent issue for the world is the triple planetary crises. For me as a green criminologist, this means trying to get society to understand that crime contributes and will play a larger role in the near future in interfering with our efforts to protect the planet.
Powerful entities like corporations, some governments, and organised crime groups are trying to thwart the global shift to green energy and to new ways of living in harmony with other species and the environment. To stop such criminal activity, criminologists, and all social scientists, need to further the understanding of crimes that affect the environment as well as research prevention and disruption strategies.
What does being a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences mean to you?
I was honoured to become a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. It is particularly meaningful for two reasons. First, I was nominated by my work colleague, Professor Irene Hardill, in partnership with perhaps the most influential and well-known green criminologist in the world, Professor Nigel South. To have such well respected and established scholars suggest my nomination, was a wonderful recognition of my scholarship. Second, my Fellowship is an important recognition that green criminology – the study of crimes that affect the environment as well as the consequences of these crimes – is a valuable and impactful field. Green criminology has for many years been seen as a niche research area in the social sciences. My career has been dedicated to this field, so my Fellowship is a marker that this research area is groundbreaking and essential.