culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

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Another successful External Advisory Board meeting

The External Advisory Board plays a crucial part in how the Centre functions. Academics and practitioners from the international community were invited to join the board at the start of the grant in 2017. Board members were chosen based on their knowledge and experience, as they link to the Centre’s themes and vision, and therefore are perfectly placed to be a sounding board for our members. In the three-day meeting, which takes place annually, Centre members participate in workshops and present their work to the board, obtaining vital feedback  which will help us move forward for the next twelve months.


The first event of the EAB was a lecture – Apprehending Environmental Change – given by the medical anthropologist, and member of the EAB, Professor Lenore Manderson (pictured above). For the past five years, Professor Manderson has curated and produced an art/science programme at Brown University in the US, and at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. The programmes brought together scholars and practising artists and are structured using early understandings of earth systems and bodies, across cultures, time and place. Professor Manderson showed some of the art produced for and shown at Earth, Itself (Brown University) and Watershed (Witwatersrand) to illustrate how artists contribute to identifying practical steps forward while celebrating the environment, and how this work provokes us to think of ways forward to protect both the environment and health.

You can watch a recording of Prof. Manderson’s lecture on the Centre YouTube channel.

The second event was a workshop collaboration between The Wellcome Centre and Libraries Unlimited: ‘Transforming publicly engaged research‘. The workshop gave participants a chance to hear directly from the leaders (Fred Cooper, Georgie Tarling &  Kath Ford and Roop Johnstone) of three pieces of publicly engaged research that have taken place in Exeter Library over the past two years. The workshop gave participants the opportunity to discuss and explore the particular issues that arise when publics, researchers, artists and librarians work together to develop new approaches to publicly engaged research. The workshop was led by Ms Ciara Eastell OBE, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited and member of the EAB.

The final event was an interactive workshop run by EAB member Dr Tom Wakeford: Sharing experiences of democratising research: From public engagement to citizens’ assemblies. During the workshop, we shared diverse perspectives on participatory action research and other approaches to democratising inquiry and discussed how we have worked in the past and could work in the future. Dr Wakeford shared stories from collaborations in which he had been involved, in the UK and abroad, particularly involving people whose voices have been marginalised in the past.


Some of the Centre’s research fellows gave presentations to the Board.

Looking to the future, the Wellcome Trust will be offering awards to fund the formation of international research networks. Branwyn Poleykett, together with Dora Vargha and Felicity Thomas, is leading the Centre’s work on this. This strongly  complements Branwyn’s own work on non-communicable diseases in Dakar, Senegal, where she is examining the impact of what the Dakarois call “new diseases” on the ways that people shop, eat, cook, care for and nourish their families.

Lorraine Hansford is one of the newest members of the Centre, having joined in January after working for 17 years with young people and on community projects. Lorraine is leading research into understanding inequalities in end of life care and is currently setting up workshops at hospices in Plymouth and Exeter. She is hoping to also start working with ‘The Departure Lounge’ a project designed to enable people to talk more openly about death, dying and the ageing population.

Another research fellow who joined us in January is Charlotte Jones, who is developing a new project that will explore ways of understanding infertility when this is made evident ‘early’ in the life course. Charlotte’s new project at The Wellcome Centre will draw on her previous research on intersex/variations of sex characteristics.

Lara Choksey joined the Centre in September 2018. She will focus her energies on “Postgenomic Environments”: a project which will bring literary and cultural studies approaches to questions of health, care, community, and environment in the genomic and postgenomic eras. Lara will also be looking at uses of precision genomic medicine locally, nationally, and globally while at the centre.

The Centre thanks the board members for their invaluable feedback and ideas regarding the projects currently being undertaken. We are excited and invigorated about the future of the Centre and our members.

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