Room 2.08 Clarendon Building


Room 2.08 Clarendon Building
103 Clarendon Rd, Woodhouse, Leeds LS2 9DF


12 Jan 2022


9:30 am - 5:00 pm

Beyond the academy: engaging and working with activist communities

This one day symposium has been organised by the Civil Society, Development and Democracy (CDD) Pathway and is open to all ESRC and non-ESRC funded PhD and MA Social Research students within the WRDTP’s seven partner universities. Whilst this workshop is aimed at CDD Pathway students, PGRs from all seven interdisciplinary Pathways are welcome to attend.

This Symposium will bring together academics, scholar-activists, and PGR students to reflect upon the practical, epistemological, and methodological implications of engaging and working with activist communities. Drawing on their expertise, the guest speakers will address issues such as positionality, research design, access to the field, ethics, and potential harm of research. The speakers will discuss a variety of topics, including environmental and animal protection, digital activism, negotiating activist histories, and anarchist praxis.

A range of questions will be explored in the Symposium: what barriers and/ or opportunities emerge for scholar-activists? What challenges might researchers face when building relationships of trust with activists as subjects and informants? What are some of the ethical and methodological dilemmas that are anticipated for those researching civil society and social  movements? How might researchers make their research findings available to support activist communities and civil society groups?

Students attending this training will gain:

  • An understanding of current methodological, ethical, and epistemological debates on activist communities
  • Awareness of scholar-activism as a praxis
  • Insights onto the challenges, pitfalls, and opportunities of researching social movements and civil society groups
  • An opportunity to ask expert researchers questions relevant to their own fieldwork.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Gavin Brown, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Erika Cudworth, De Montfort University
  • Professor Athina Karatzogianni, University of Leicester
  • Dr Alex Lockwood, University of Sunderland
  • Dr Thomas Swann, Loughborough University

For questions related to this symposium, please contact the organisers: Dr Maria Rovisco, Dr Richard White

Please note, subject to government and institutional guidance, this training symposium will be delivered on a face-to-face basis. Students are responsible for arranging travel to and from the University of Leeds for this symposium. The WRDTP cannot reimburse travel costs to these sessions.

The symposium will also be filmed, and a recording will be made available on the VIRE after the event for those unable to travel.