I research the complex geographies, spaces and subjectivities of youth citizenship.  My recent ESRC Future Research Leader Award (2014-2017; £249,630) examined the geographies of youth citizenship and volunteering through an exploration of National Citizen Service in England since 2011 (RA - Waite). My PhD research, funded by the ESRC (Open Competition; £40,000), focused on the citizenship project of the Scout Movement in Britain.  Drawing on original archival research at a number of collections in the UK, I explored the cultural-historical geographies of youth citizenship in scouting and how gendered, political and religious identities have challenged this organisation’s model of an ‘ideal citizen’ over time. These research themes were also part of my ESRC post-doctoral fellowship (2011-2012; £77,389) and emerged as part of an AHRC/ESRC Connected Communities Scoping Study Grant on youth organisations in Wales (as Co-I with Prof. Rhys Jones [PI] and Prof. Peter Merriman, Aberystwyth University, 2012; £24,281).

Relevant Publications

Mills, S. and Waite, C. (2017) Brands of Youth Citizenship and the Politics of Scale: National Citizen Service in the United Kingdom, Political Geography 56 (1): 66-76 [free open access]

- Kallio, K. P. and Mills, S. (2016) (eds) Politics, Citizenship and Rights, Vol. 7 of Skelton, T. (ed.) Geographies of Children and Young People. Singapore: Springer

- Jones, R., Merriman, P. and Mills, S. (2016) Youth organisations and the reproduction of nationalism in Britain: the role of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, Social and Cultural Geography 17 (5): 714-734 [free open access until December 2017]
- Mills, S. (2014) Youth on Streets and Bob-a-Job Week: Urban geographies of masculinity, risk and constructions of home in post-war Britain, Environment and Planning A 46 (1): 112-128.

Mills, S. (2013) "An Instruction in Good Citizenship": Scouting and the Historical Geographies of Citizenship Education, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers38 (1): 120-134

- Robinson, J. and Mills, S. (2012) Being Observant/Observed: embodied citizenship training in Britain’s Home Guard and Boy Scout Movement, 1907-1945Journal of Historical Geography 38 (4): 412-423

Mills, S. (2011) Scouting for Girls? Gender and the Scout Movement in Britain, Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 18 (4): 537-556

Mills, S. (2011) Be Prepared: Communism and the Politics of Scouting in 1950s Britain, Contemporary British History 25 (3): 429-450


I am interested in diverse informal learning spaces and philosophies.  I have researched the pedagogical practices of the Woodcraft Folk (1925-1975) drawing on material from the Youth Movement Archive at the London School of Economics (ESRC-funded via postdoctoral fellowship).  I also have an ongoing interest in the ideas and writings of key thinkers on informal education. To draw these diverse contemporary and historical interests surrounding informal education together, I co-edited a book with Prof. Peter Kraftl (University of Birmingham) in 2014, published by Palgrave Macmillan.  We have also collaborated on a special issue of cultural geographies on 'cultural geographies of education'.

Relevant Publications

Mills, S. and Kraftl, P. (2014) (eds) Informal Education, Childhood and Youth: Geographies, Histories, Practices Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

- Mills, S. and Kraftl, P. (2016) Cultural Geographies of Education, cultural geographies 23 (1): 19-27

- Mills, S. (2016) Geographies of education, volunteering and the lifecourse: the Woodcraft Folk in Britain (1925-1975), cultural geographies 23 (1): 103-119

- Mills, S. (2014) "A powerful educational instrument': The Woodcraft Folk, indoor/outdoor 'nature' and pedagogical practice 1925-1975 in Mills, S. and Kraftl, P. (eds) Informal Education, Childhood and Youth: Geographies, Histories, Practices Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

 - Mills, S. (2010) 'Colin Ward: The 'Gentle' Anarchist and Informal Education', the encyclopaedia of informal education.  Available at:


As mentioned above, one of my areas of research has been exploring the role of religious identities in 'stretching' the citizenship project of scouting. Specifically, I have explored Muslim Scouting in Wales and how volunteers and young people from a variety of religious and faith communities have negotiated the performance of scouting through religious expression.  My RGS-IBG Small Grant project (2012-13; £2087) explored the Jewish Lads' Brigade in post-war Britain and also examined connections between youth and religious identity, this time in the context of emerging 'youth culture' in Manchester during the 1950s and 1960s.  This research also interrogated the relationship between volunteers and employees, with the JLB Club in Manchester hiring a youth worker alongside unpaid volunteers during this period. Finally, I have reflected on contemporary geographies of volunteering policy and practice in the context of devolution.

Relevant Publications

Mills, S. (2016) Jives, jeans and Jewishness? Moral geographies, atmospheres and the politics of mixing at the Jewish Lads' Brigade & Club 1954-1969, Environment and Planning D: Society & Space 34 (6): 1098-1112.

- Mills, S. (2015) Geographies of youth work, volunteering and employment: The Jewish Lads' Brigade & Club in post-war Manchester, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 40 (4): 523-535.

- Woolvin, M., Mills, S., Hardill, I. and Rutherford, A. (2015) Divergent geographies of policy and practice? Voluntarism and devolution in England, Scotland and Wales, The Geographical Journal 181 (1): 38-46.

- Mills, S. (2012) Duty to God/Dharma/Allah/Waheguru: Diverse youthful religiosities and the politics and performance of informal worship, Social & Cultural Geography 13 (5): 481-499

- Mills, S. (2009) 'Citizenship and Faith: Muslim Scout Groups' in Richard Phillips (Ed.) Muslim Spaces of Hope: Geographies of Possibility in Britain and the West London: Zed Books, 85-103


I am fascinated by historical research practices and the possibilities of archival research in children’s geographies. My Scouloudi Award (Institute of Historical Research, 2014) drew on a sound archive from the 1960s and 1980s to explore the historical geographies of children's folklore. Furthermore, I am committed to developing more accessible and ‘public’ historical geographies, for example two research-based exhibitions in mid-Wales during my PhD.

Relevant Publications

- Mills, S. (2017) Voice: Sonic Geographies of Childhood, Children's Geographies 15 (6): 664-677 (free open access until December 2017)

- Mills, S. (2016) 'Archival fieldwork and children's geographies' in Evans, R. and Holt, L. Methodological Approaches, Vol. 2 of Skelton, T. (ed.) Geographies of Children and Young People Singapore: Springer.

- Mills, S. (2013) Cultural-Historical Geographies of the Archive: Fragments, Objects and Ghosts, Geography Compass 7 (10): 701-713

- Mills, S. (2013) Surprise! Public Historical Geographies, User Engagement and Voluntarism, Area 45 (1): 16-22

Mills, S. (2012) Young Ghosts: Ethical and Methodological Issues of Archival Research in Children’s Geographies, Children's Geographies 10 (3): 357-363


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