The Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter has been awarded an additional £1.43m to continue its pioneering engaged and transdisciplinary research.
Applying for a two-year extension in July this year, the Centre asked the Wellcome Trust to renew their support for the Centre’s unique research and impact vision. That support will allow the Centre to scale up its transformative health research programme and to ask new questions about the health impacts of social and environmental inequalities. The focus of the next three years will be research on health across the life course, on ageing and dying, on co-creating healthy cities, and on living with the social and cultural impacts of COVID-19.
These research programmes – as well as the development of an innovative Masters course in transformative health research and practice – will assist the Centre and the University to embed engagement and impact fully in their work locally, nationally and internationally, build training and career pathways in transdisciplinary research, and strengthen the Centre’s commitment to an inclusive and vibrant research culture.
Since February 2016, the Centre and its members have established a unique, transformative research and engagement programme, developing new partnerships with policy-makers and creative organisations, building an open and transparent research culture, and bringing in doctoral students, early career researchers, and senior staff. The Centre was founded by academics from across the medical humanities and environmental & social sciences.
The Centre is committed to developing engaged transdisciplinary research that sustains healthy environments and publics. Engaged research means breaking down the barriers between researchers, patient and activist groups, public sector partners, and health organisations in order to address key health challenges collectively. Current research at the Centre includes: the health impacts of loneliness and social isolation; how we use different forms of evidence in health policy; the impact of family relationships on children’s health; and community involvement in how we assess and manage research. The Centre also played a key role in co-ordinating the recent successful UNESCO City of Literature application, which made Exeter the only UK city to achieve UNESCO Creative City status in 2019.
The Centre Director, Professor Judith Green, said: “This award recognises the outstanding work of Centre members and our partners in creating the conditions for engaged and transdisciplinary work. Addressing contemporary threats to health – whether from global warming, emerging diseases, or enduring social inequalities – demands that we draw deeply on diverse disciplinary, practitioner and experiential expertise. The Centre’s work on some of the most urgent issues for wellbeing – decolonization, living with COVID, loneliness, shame, urban mental health – has showcased the value of collaborations across and beyond the humanities and social sciences. We are delighted to have been awarded an extension to scale up this work for transformative research on healthy cultures and environments.”
The Centre’s founding Director and Principal Investigator, Professor Mark Jackson, added: “It has been rewarding to witness the development of the richness and range of research carried out in the Wellcome Centre over the last four years. The effort of enabling research on this scale should not be underestimated; nor should the quality of the Centre’s outputs and outcomes. The extension of Wellcome funding – matched by support from the University – not only highlights the Centre’s many achievements, but also provides a platform for making more expansive contributions to addressing the health and environmental challenges that we all face.”