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Dr Kelso

Associate Professor
Name: Clare Kelso
Location: D3 Lab 323 Auckland Park Kingsway Campus
Geography Environmental Management Energy Studies Staff  Staff Members

Contact Details:
Tel: +27 (0) 11 559 2432


About Prof Clare Kelso


Bachelor of Arts

BA Hons (University of the Witwatersrand)

PhD (University of the Witwatersrand)



Prof. Clare Kelso is an environmental geographer whose research focusses on climate and environmental history, rural livelihood vulnerability and sustainability. She currently holds the position of Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies at the University of Johannesburg.  She began her career in 1997 as a junior geography lecturer at Vista University, Soweto campus.  Prof. Kelso has supervised a number of Masters and PhD students in topics focussing on rural livelihood vulnerability and change, on the interface between conservation and local communities and on the gendered nature of the impacts of climate change in rural communities.  Underlying these research foci is the central aim to identify sustainable and equitable solutions to complex environmental and social problems.  Geographically, the focus of her research has been South Africa, although she has supervised students who have undertaken related research in Tanzania and the Cameroon.

Link to talk on Womanity in Africa


Research Interests

Climate and Environmental History
Rural livelihood vulnerability
Impacts of climate change on rural livelihoods

Environmental ethics and justice
Historical climatology

Teaching Responsibilities

Ethics, Justice and the South African Environment
Environmental Problems and Sustainable Development
Geographical Thought and Methods

Masters student supervision

Bopaki Phogole – Sustainability of the energy saving measures introduced as clean air offsets by Eskom in Mpumalanga

Jabulile Galela – The potential to integrate energy efficiency as a climate change mitigation into the EIA process: the case of Gauteng residential developments

Kelebone Sekonyela – Rural livelihoods in Tsekong village Eastern Cape: Vulnerability to Environmental Change

Belinda Cooper – A Spatial Prioritization of threats to biodiversity and cultural heritage in the Magaliesberg Biosphere

Christopher Burgoyne – An Investigation of Human Activity and Vegetation Change around Mkhuze Game Reserve, South Africa

Jarred Bell – The Vulnerability of Rural Livelihoods to Climate Variability and Change in Lesotho

Kasay Sentime – Informal Waste Collectors in Johannesburg: A sustainable solution?

Anzani Rautenbach – Integrated solid waste management on the University of Johannesburg Bunting Road Campus

Nicole Botham – Best practice in acquiring a mine closure certificate: case study of De Beers Oaks mine.

Doctoral student supervision

Christopher Burgoyne – Management of Environmental Systems for the Sustainability of Eco‐Tourism
Matilda Azong – Gender and Vulnerability to Climate Change: The case of women in Bamenda Highlands Region of Cameroon

Current students

Samkelisiwe Khanyile – A GIS framework for the integrated conceptualisation, analysis and visualisation of Gauteng’s complex historic and contemporary post-mining urban landscape

Dimakatso Machetele – Potential focus area – Waste management in South African rural areas


Publications and Conference Presentations

Azong, M. and Kelso, C.J. (2021) Gender, Ethnicity and Vulnerability to Climate Change: the case of matrilineal and patrilineal societies in Bamenda Highlands Region, Cameroon.  Global Environmental Change, 67: 102241.

Hart, A, Biggs, S., Scott-Bottoms, S., Buttery, L., Dennis, S., Duncan, S. Ebersöhn, L., Flegg, M., Kelso, C. Khaile, N., Mampane, R.M, Mampane, N.S., Nash, D., Ngoma, R. and Theron, L.C. (2020). Negotiating leadership in interdisciplinary co-productive research: a case study of an international community-based project between South African and the United Kingdom.  Sage Open. DOI: 10.1177/2158244020971598 

Hoogendoorn, G. Meintjies, D., Kelso, C and Fitchett, J. (2020). Tourism as an incentive for rewilding: the conversion from cattle to game farms in Limpopo province, South Africa. Journal of Ecotourism, 18:4, 309-315.

Hoogendoorn, G., Kelso, C.J. and Sinthumule, N.I. (2019). Tourism in the Great Limpopo Transfronteir Conservation Area: A Review.  African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, Volume 8 (5).

Nash, DJ and Kelso, CJ, 2019.  Combining historical documentary evidence and instrumental data to assess the severity of the 2015-16 drought in northern South Africa.  INQUA Dublin, 25-31 July 2019.

Azong, M., Kelso, C.J., Naidoo, K. (2018) Vulnerability and resilience of female farmers in Oku, Cameroon, to Climate Change.  African Sociological Review, 22(1), 31-53.

Burgoyne, C., Kelso, C. and Mearns, K. (2017) The impact of stakeholder relations on the Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area, Zanzibar, Tanzania.  Tourism in Marine Environments, 12(3-4), 239-252.

Kelso, CJ and Kotze, N. 2016: From the Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit to the University of Johannesburg: An inclusive South African University, in The Origin and Growth of Geography as a Discipline at South African Universities, Visser, G., Donaldson, R., Seethal, C. (eds), Sun Press, Stellenbosch. pp.327-349. ISBN: 978-1-928357-25-4

Burgoyne, C., Ahmed, F. and Kelso, C.,2016: Human activity and vegetation change around Mkuze Game Reserve, South Africa; South African Geographical Journal, 98(2), 217-234. DOI: 10.1080/03736245.2015.1028978

Kelso, C. and Vogel, C. 2015: Diversity to decline-livelihood adaptations of the Namaqua Khoikhoi (1800–1900), Global Environmental Change 35; 254–268.

Burgoyne, C. and Kelso, C., 2014: ‘The Mkuze River it has crossed the fence:’ Community Perceptions of the Mkuze Protected Area, Bulletin of Geography, series no. 22: 51-66.

Neukom, R., Nash, D. J., Endfield, G. H., Grab, S. W., Grove, C. A., Kelso, C., Vogel, C. H. and Zinke, J. (2014). Multi-proxy summer and winter precipitation reconstruction for southern Africa over the last 200 years. Climate Dynamics, 42 (9-10): 2713-2726. DOI 10.1007/s00382-013-1886-6