Michael Macinnes Smith


Accepting PhD Students


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Expertise

I started in Higher Education in studying Economics and Geography at  Strathclyde University in the mid/late 1980s. I then stayed in Glasgow and specialised in Urban & Regional Development at Postgraduate (MSc) level. After a year working and travelling in North America, I left Glasgow and went to work with the Highlands & Islands Enterprise Network in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. It is here I first had a role in funding and stimulating research and pilot projects in the region. I then joined UHI in the late 1990s.  Since joining UHI, I have led the development and delivery of the fully online BSc (Hons) and MSc degrees in Sustainable Rural Development. In 2011 I completed a PhD on e-Learning. I have had both external consultancy experience in this area developing regional strategy for a public partnership and developing European funding bids and contracted research experience too in the IT&Telecoms field. In 2017 I became the course manager for UHI's MSc postgraduate programme in Sustainable Rural Development. In my previous post (2013-17) I was seconded to EO,UHI  to research and develop the University's first accelerated Honours degree in Geography. Since then I have taken on a new role as a Head of Department for the Sustainability & Social Sciences department within the academic partner UHI North, West and Hebrides. I have over 20 years experience in supervising student research at UHI at undergraduate and postgraduate MSc and PhD levels. Most recently (2022-24) I have led UHI's input into the EU Horizons RIPEET Project to find sustainable energy transition pathways for rural communities. 

Specialties: Sustainability, Rural Regeneration, Distributed Learning

Research Interests

  • Human and Environmental Geography
  • Rural and Community Regeneration
  • Economics of Community Wealth Building
  • Sustainability and the Environment
  • Net Zero Transition & Sustainable Energy Pathways
  • The pedagogy of online education
  • The use of technologies in online education

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, The quality factors which influence online learning and impact on the student experience., University of Highlands and Islands

Award Date: 20 Dec 2011

Master of Science, Urban and Regional Development, University of Strathclyde

Award Date: 18 Sept 1992

Bachelor of Arts, Geography, University of Strathclyde

Award Date: 17 Aug 1990


  • Society, Identity, Landscape and Knowledge
  • Sustainability Studies
  • Rural communities
  • Rural, rural change and development
  • Online Education
  • Sustainable Energy Transition


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