Ebola anthropology: from real-time social science to building future local capacity

Professor Melissa Leach is Director of the Institute for Development Studies, and with her research team won the 2016 Celebrating Impact Prize for Outstanding International Impact.

This is the third in a series of blogs delving further into the research behind the impact awards. Applications for the 2017 Celebrating Impact Prize opened this week.

Melissa_Leach2014_250

I was truly delighted when our team won the ESRC’s Outstanding International Impact award in 2016 for our work during the 2014-15 Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Our Ebola Response Anthropology Platform (ERAP) and related Ebola: Lessons for Development initiative showed how and why long-term social science understandings, mobilised rapidly in real-time, could transform an epidemic response. Our work focused on issues like the social significance of burials, the value of community knowledge, practices and institutions, and contextualising the violence being experienced by health workers. Continue reading

Alan Walker: active ageing, social justice and rampant individualism

Alan Walker is Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology at the University of Sheffield, Director of the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme part-funded by the ESRC, the research project Mobilising the Potential of Active Ageing in Europe, and the EU-funded project Social Innovations for an Ageing Population. In 2013 he became the ESRC’s first Impact Champion.

Alan Walker

Why did you pursue an academic career?

Becoming a professional social scientist was accidental. I was hooked strongly by sociology and social policy during my undergraduate degree at the University of Essex, and then Peter Townsend offered me a short term post working on his mammoth project Poverty in the United Kingdom.

Working closely with Peter on this and other projects persuaded me that social science had a critical role to play in public policymaking, and I found the prospect of becoming that particular kind of academic very appealing. The twin moral commitments to social science as a vehicle for the promotion of social justice and the duty of academics to speak the truth to power that Townsend exemplified have been the main drivers of my academic career. Continue reading

From research to creating social change through art and engagement

Celia Kitzinger (University of York) and Jenny Kitzinger (Cardiff University) Co-Directors of the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre and joint winners of the ESRC’s Outstanding Impact in Society Award, 2015.

Professor Jenny Kitzinger and Professor Celia Kitzinger

Running into the office last week carrying a bundle of eight foot bamboo poles, along with a picnic blanket, an iron and a bag of sand, we reflected on the changing role of the academic. Continue reading

What do I want? A closer relationship between theory and practice. When do I want it? Now, please, if you don’t mind.

Dr Jennifer Doyle, Trafford Housing Trust, Winner of the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize for Outstanding Early Career Impact

Jennifer Doyle

It is strange and exciting being a researcher in social housing. There are no traditional links between social housing and academic research. As a collective, those of us in the built environment disciplines have broadly fallen into one of two roles:

  • Those focused on an absolute necessity to deliver housing, to manage housing, and to look after our tenants, in the moment, continuously; and
  • Those of us who have been afforded the luxury of time to conduct research to consider things more deeply, to reflect, strategise and plan for the future. Continue reading

Business angels in the UK

Professor Richard Harrison, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Edinburgh Business School and Professor Colin Mason, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow – winners of the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize for Outstanding Impact in Business.

Professor Colin Mason and Professor Richard Harrison

One of the key features of the development of a more entrepreneurial economy in the UK over the past 25 years has been the emergence of the business angel investment community as a major source of funding for new and growing ventures. Business angels are typically wealthy individuals who invest their personal capital in small businesses (typically start-up or early stage) in return for an equity stake. Indeed, business angels contribute more finance to entrepreneurial ventures than the institutional venture capital market. Continue reading