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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

My placement with Hampshire County Council (HCC)

Aleksandra Nazeraj
Aleksandra Nazeraj

I have recently completed my five months placement with Hampshire County Council (HCC) working with the County’s Behavioural Insight team on the Climate Change project. As a PhD student I was excited to explore new areas of research beyond my studies where I could apply my quantitative and analytical skills with an immediate policy impact.

The possibility to gain some expertise in the area of behaviour change and climate action working with local government partners was a challenge that I happily accepted. For the needs of the project I worked with a member of Public Policy|Southampton (PPS), who was managing collaboration with HCC, and members of the HCC’s Insight and Engagement Unit.

Throughout the project, I had a chance to be part of a highly professional team where each member would prioritise the needs of others and the team would together decide the most efficient way towards achieving our common targets for the project. We decided to have frequent meetings and to review the progression as well as to share with each other our knowledge and insights at each step. The continuous support, the well-organised meetings, combined with our common enthusiasm for the project were the recipe for a successful cooperation in terms of accomplishing our goals and experiencing an ideal team working environment. These gradients were vital to bridge the gap, at a very early stage, between the timescale at which the research results for HCC had to be achieved compared to that of an academic outcome.

In particular, HCC was interested to gain insight on the reduction of individuals’ carbon impact from adopting pro-environmental behaviours for 23 climate change actions . My contribution on this first part of our collaboration was to provide up to date evidence regarding the carbon footprint of individuals and to calculate the benefits, reduction of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent), as a result of pro-environmental behaviours. The evidence was collected based on estimations provided by academic literature and/or official national statistics regarding the areas of interest.

Soon I discovered that this was a unique opportunity to not only participate in a project related to climate change, one of the most urgent issues of our time, but to be in a team which set an ambitious goal to provide evidence towards a holistic estimation of the carbon footprint of individuals and households. My findings provided up to date evidence regarding the carbon footprint per average person and average household for the case of UK with the aim to employ this data on the construction of a carbon calculator that can be adapted to estimate the carbon footprint per city and/or county. Additionally, my findings regarding the benefits/savings in terms of CO2e for the areas of interest helped provide a holistic picture of the potential benefits for the environment if individuals adopted the suggested behaviour(s).

Furthermore, my second main contribution was to apply quantitative methods and to conduct analytical work with the data collected from a related HCC survey conducted for the purposes of the project. More specifically, I performed statistical analysis and empirical analysis to identify the most important factors, based on data from the survey, on the likelihood of individuals to adopt certain pro-environmental behaviours.

Overall, my experience was highly useful regarding the tools I had the chance to learn and employ as well as gaining knowledge on climate change and the inner working of the scientific area of carbon footprint calculation. More importantly, this opportunity provided me with a chance to work with some very cooperative, insightful and helpful collaborators, both from the HCC and PPS teams, who inspired me to investigate multiple avenues towards building the tools and knowledge necessary for the project and helped me experience how an effective interdisciplinary collaboration looks like.

I would highly recommend to every PhD student to explore similar opportunities organised by PPS in collaboration with the HCC. It is a tremendous experience to work on such projects and collaborate with such professional teams of experts and any research student doing so will gain crucial knowledge useful for their future careers.


Aleksandra Nazeraj, is a PhD Student in Economics at the University of Southampton.


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