Dr Brett Matulis

Brett MatulisLecturer in Human Geography

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Brett joined the Department of Geography at Leicester in 2015. His PhD is from the University of Edinburgh for research concerning the social implications of “payments for ecosystem services” in Costa Rica.  He made the transition to the critical social sciences through a masters degree at Western Washington University after receiving an undergraduate degree in computer engineering from the University of Delaware.


Brett has taught at both US and UK institutions on issues relating to conservation, economics, politics, and research methods.  He currently teaches on Contemporary Environmental Challenges and convenes Environment, Nature, Society.  He has an interest in supervising PhD projects that explore environmental governance, conservation politics, financailised conservation, nature 2.0, “liberation technology”, radical democracy, hacktivism, and digital political economy, especially those that seek to apply critical social theory in conceptualising digital social phenomena. Prospective PhD students may contact Brett directly.



  1. Matulis, B.S. 2015. “PES and Property: The Expansion of Exclusionary Land Management Practices in Costa Rica.” Human Geography (8.2): 38-54.
  2. Matulis, B.S. 2015. “Valuing Nature:  A Reply to Esteve Corbera”. Ecological Economics (110): 158-160.
  3. Matulis, B.S. 2014. “The Economic Valuation of Nature:  A Question of Justice?.” Ecological Economics (104): 155-157.
  4. Matulis, B.S. 2013. “The Narrowing Gap Between Vision and Execution: Neoliberalization of PES in Costa Rica.” Geoforum (44): 253-260.

In review:

  • Matulis, B.S. “Payments for Ecosystem Services, Neoliberalization, and the Internal Contradictions of Capital.” in review, (contact for advance copy).
  • Matulis, B.S. “The Coercive Laws of Competition in the Neoliberal Era:  The Case of Payments for Ecosystem Services in Costa Rica.” in review, (contact for advance copy).
  • Matulis, B.S. and Moyer, J.R. “New Conservation, 'Inclusive' Conservation, and Agonistic Pluralism” in review, (contact for advance copy).
  • Matulis, B.S. “Hijacking the Narrative: The World Forum on Natural Capital, Nature 2.0, and Radical Dissent.” in review, (contact for advance copy).


Brett's research concerns environmental governance and has particular emphasis on its relation to social equity, justice, and power.  His work has addressed issues relating to the application of ecosystem services, natural capital, and other financialised approaches to conservation on national and global scales.  He conceptualises these activities in a political economy / ecology framework, which places inquiry firmly on questions of accumulated wealth, power, and privilege.  His work questions the assumption that capitalist economics can provide the solution the very problems it creates, and he advocates the exploration of alternatives such as degrowth or a “not for profit” social economy.

Brett's research has employed Collaborative Event Ethnography to understand environmental governance at on a global scale through large-scale international events like the World Parks Congress, the World Forum on Natural Capital, and the World Conservation Congress.  His interest in global environmental governance has also led to the study of virtual conservation activism.  He has applied the concept of “nature 2.0” – which sits at the intersection of conservation and new forms of digital social organisation – to online disputes over the concept of natural capital.  This has led to an emerging interest in new forms of anonymous digital social organisation and political activism on the darknet.

Methodologically, Brett's work employs a range of techniques that include critical discourse analysis, ethnography, participant observation, “critical theatre”, and film. His fieldwork currently employs Collaborative Event Ethnography, an innovative approach to the study of the large-scale international policy meetings where environmental governance increasingly occurs, and participatory techniques on the darknet.


Research Areas for PhD Supervision

Political ecology, Global environmental governance, Natural capital, Nature 2.0, Digital political economies, Liberation technology, Radical democracy, Virtual geographies, Hacktivism

I am interested in supervising students on the following topics:

  • Critical perspectives on ecosystem services, natural capital, and the financialisation of conservation
  • Environmental governance at the global level through large international meetings (e.g. World Conservation Congress, Forest Stewardship Council, COP to the UNFCCC)
  • The interface between conservation politics and new digital technologies, especially social media
  • The practice of radical democracy activism in anonymous virtual spaces (e.g. the darknet)

Enquiries: If you are interested in studying for a PhD in one of these research areas, please make informal enquiries via pgrgeog@le.ac.uk.

Find out more information about Geography PhDs including more research areas, how to apply, funding and entry requirements.

Impact, Enterprise and Outreach

Brett has established the University of Leicester as a 'node' in POLLEN, the European Political Ecology Network. He is the contact person for any issue related to the network node.

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T: 0116 252 3933

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