His research interests are in the areas of urban sustainable design, new media affordances and sustainability communications particularly environmental and political documentary film. In 2011 he edited a Special Issue of Environmental Education Research(Vol.17, No.6) on the media, animal conservation and environmental education. He has also been a member of the Spectacular Environmentalisms Group which undertook an event ethnography of the 2010 Wildscreen International Environmental and Wildlife Film Festival. Their collective responses to the award winning film Green can be found on: http://studyinggreen.wordpress.com/ . He is currently exploring the relationship between new media, cultural heritage and urban sustainability and is working closely with staff developing the new Library of Birmingham, The Royal Society of Arts and Be Birmingham.
He is also a Library of Birmingham 'Face' and is currently exploring the redesign and reimagining of public library spaces as catalysts for local democracy, social inlcusion and economic well-being. He has given a number of public talks on this subject including oner at the Flemish Ministry of Education conference on Media and Learning called Digital Media and the Right to the City.
As editor for The Converging World book series John is also interested in educationally innovative work that embraces social and environmental justice, new media and community based action. He is currently working on a second edition of his best selling textbook Understanding Sustainable Development (Routledge-Earthscan) due to be published in 2014. He blogs on communication, sustainability and matters relating to the future of the public library. See his latest piece on The Conversation.
He is currently co-editing a Special Issue of the International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development. Please see Call for Papers: Smart, Sustainable and Just: higher education and the remaking of the right to the city.