culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

Transformative Research Awards 2022/2023


The Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health are incredibly thrilled to be able to announce the projects we are funding through our Transformative Research Awards for 2022/23.

Bringing together philosophers, young people, theatre companies, geographers, people with lived experience of voice hearing, SEN teachers, palliative care workers, sociologists, healthcare professionals, artists and illustrators, we have a remarkable and diverse range of projects, partnering with different publics around the world and deploying a range of methodologies and research philosophies. All the projects are united by a shared vision of research that is imaginative, engaged, explorative and truly transformative for all stakeholders.

The formal launch of the projects took place at the Wellcome Centre on 7 December 2022 and we’ll be holding events to share work in progress with centre members and wider audiences across 2023, as well as updating on the projects through our website.  For now, we are just very excited at the quality and ambition of these projects and cannot wait to watch them unfold over 2023.

These projects are being supported by the Centre’s Co-Director of Engagement, Dr Michael Flexer, and the Engaged Research Facilitators, Dr Pat Pinkowska and Dr Lewis Winks.


2022/23 Transformative Research Awards:

Project 1: Empowering Loita’s Girls: Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Gender-based Violence and the Climate Crisis

Professor Emerita Katrina Brown is collaborating with forum theatre company S.A.F.E. Maa to explore the links between gender-based violence, specifically Female Genital Cutting (FGC), and the climate crisis by engaging communities in participatory drama, in Loita, South West Kenya.  Professor Brown will be working with co-investigators Alice Crookenden, interim Head of S.A.F.E. Kenya, and Dr Hannelore Van Bavel, an ESRC Post-doctoral Fellow in Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Bristol.

Project 2: Informing culturally sensitive neonatal palliative care

PIs Marie Clancy, Senior Lecturer in the Academy of Nursing, and Professor Felicity Thomas are investigating how neonatal palliative care is experienced by parents from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and exploring the challenges facing health and social care professionals in providing culturally sensitive care.  The research has been co-created with ethnically diverse parents, children’s charity Together for Short Lives, the Neonatal Palliative Care Network and health care professionals working in neonatal care.

Project 3: We ♥ Big Brother: power, language, technology and voice hearing

Dr Michael Flexer will be working with local theatre company Four of Swords, Dr Pip Thornton and voice hearers from the Bridge Collective in Exeter.  Building on work by Four of Swords producers Philip Kingslan John and Sarah White, this theatre workshop project brings together creative practitioners, mental health researchers and clinicians, digital geographers, and people with lived experience to explore how structures of power, language and technology can madden us.

Project 4: Young Persons Advisory Group

This project begins through engagement, with the aim of learning with and from young people how to work well together as equals on research projects that involve young people and are of interest to them. Drawing upon existing involvement practices as well as their experience in undertaking engaged research across different disciplines, the research want to co-create a young person’s advisory group (YPAG) to support engaged research about young people within the university.  The team brings together researchers – Camilla Forbes, Professor Helen Berry, Professor Stacey Hynd and Professor Katrina Wyatt – with two young people local to Devon – Amy and Karissa – and teacher Nic Perrott.

Project 5: Picturing Reproductive Lives: Combating stigma around fertility and reproduction in Cajamarca, Peru

Dr Cordelia Freeman will be working with Dr Sandra Rodríguez, an anthropologist based in Peru, and WCCEH PhD researcher Juanita Navarro Paez on this one-year, engaged research project working with rural communities in Cajamarca, Peru, to combat shame and stigma around fertility and reproduction.  Picturing Reproductive Lives is an art-based project where the team will work with local women in Cajamarca to create a graphic novel and a children’s educational book to empower them to talk about their own reproductive experiences and emotions and to address health inequalities in future generations.

Project 6: Exploring Conceptions of Mental Health in Youth Work

Dr Sam Wilkinson will be partnering with SPACE Youth Services – a local charity and public service mutual – to closely examine and analyse the way in which young people conceptualise ‘mental health.’ This innovative project – using podcasting and other creative methodologies – will encourage critical and imaginative thought on the part of young people, youth workers, and policymakers, surrounding issues of mental health and wellbeing.

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