DTP Matters Newsletter

23rd Edition

Welcome to the 23rd edition of the White Rose Social Sciences DTP newsletter; DTP Matters.

The White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership is the new name of the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre, which originally launched in November 2011. The White Rose DTP consists of 7 partner universities (read more)

This newsletter is released bi-annually and includes NEWS AND EVENTS, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES, PATHWAY NEWS, ESRC NEWS and FEEDBACK ON FEEDBACK. If you would like to submit an article for a future edition of DTP Matters or provide feedback on any of the featured articles, you can do so by emailing enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk

News and Events

WRDTP Directors Announcement on COVID-19

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the UKRI’s guidance for Social Sciences research students, please follow this link to read the WRDTP Director’s message to students.

Women in Academia, 13th December 2019 – Event Feedback

On the 19th December 2019, we hosted the very first White Rose DTP Women in Academia event. This gathering aimed to provide a space for women to discuss their experiences of academia and to strategize ways in which to improve it.

The day was comprised of a panel discussion with a group of women who work within academia, both within the institution of the University, and outside in consulting roles. The panel consisted of Dr Muna Abdi, Dr Martina McGuiness, Dr Nadena Doharty, Professor Anne Lawson, and Professor Kate Reed and was chaired by the previous Director of the WRDTP Professor Ruth Blakeley. They kindly shared their experiences, as well as some strategies that they had to navigate in an often-male dominated environment.

After the panel, we also hosted smaller workshops based on gender dynamics in academia, mental health, women’s health, and the power dynamics within academia. These sessions followed a futures workshop method and encouraged women to discuss all the issues associated with these topics, as well as discussing the ways in which they could be improved. From these sessions our amazing team (Alex Ricketts, Tamara Satmarean, Sophie Phillips, Alice Wilson and Dareen Assaf) have been working to develop the WOmanifesto. The aim is to send a document to each of the 7 partner Universities within the White Rose Consortium to highlight the issues raised by the women and to suggest some solutions and practical tips.
Following on from this, we are also developing a new networking group focusing on Women’s health. Our aim is to provide a space within the academic setting to discuss issues which are specific to Women and to share coping strategies that we have developed. However, due to the current Coronavirus outbreak, this will be postponed till it is safe to resume business as usual.

Please follow our twitter account (@WomeninAcademia1) for more information on the WOmanifesto, future events and the launch of our new website.

If you would like to get involved with the WOmanifesto or the network, then please email women.in.academia1@gmail.com.

Event feedback - what did students attending think of the event?

What did you find most useful about this event?

It helped raise my awareness of the issues facing us and what we can do to navigate them.

The continuous opportunity for discussion, during the event, was really appreciated.

Sharing experience in an open but safe atmosphere.

The discussion groups were very useful. I did like this event because I reflected and learnt from the experiences of other women that are involved in the academia. From my point of view in this type of events you can express yourself and provide and receive support and advice from other women.

Listening to experienced academics of different backgrounds; the facilitated discussion groups

Listening to the experiences of established, high profile women and how they have overcome challenges of misogynism and sexism in the academy

Further comments and suggestions

Really liked the visual guide provided prior to the event, excellent idea.

This event was absolutely fantastic, please run this again. Also definitely run a similar one but to include men, it would be extremely valuable.

A very well organised event that flowed really well.

Bringing real change includes involving stakeholders and people who can bring about real changes, including decision makers. Thus, I would like to see men engaging in such debates about women in order to make the change real and possible.

Thank you for providing detailed information before the event and also allocating a quiet room. I didn’t use it this time but felt much more comfortable knowing that this facility was available.

The breakout sessions were good but perhaps had the tendency to become a bit of a complaints forum – it would have been great to have one of the panel experts in each breakout group to build on the things they were originally talking about. They were absolutely brilliant.

NPIF Placement Scheme

The White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership has National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) funding to support current students funded by the ESRC (including DTP, DTC and CDT), who are working in areas of relevance to the Industrial Strategy, to undertake innovation placements.

The funding is designed to be used to develop key skills through provision of additional placement opportunities. This could include:

  • entrepreneurial training/placements
  • relevant placements within industry
  • relevant placements within policy organisations relevant to the Industrial Strategy
  • exploratory small projects/placements with SMEs
  • summer schools and conference placements relevant to the Industrial Strategy challenges
  • other placements to support and increase the impact arising from doctoral research which is relevant to the Industrial Strategy

The funding will cover the costs directly related to the placement such as stipend, travel and subsistence costs where these are over an above the student’s normal expenditure, fees for relevant training and events etc.

This may be an integral part of the student’s existing award, in which case an extension or suspension of the student’s funded period is not required. In other cases, there may be a case for the student’s funded period to be extended, funded by this money.

This funding is available on a rolling basis until the funding is committed. A panel will meet monthly to review the applications, starting in June 2019.

Post Award

We will require students to complete a short evaluation form at the end of the placement as we are required to report to the ESRC on numbers, partners, impact etc.

AQM Taster Day, 21st January 2020 – Feedback

The aim of the Advanced Qualitative Methods (AQM) training event is to provide doctoral researchers with an introduction to a range of advanced quantitative methods and analytical techniques that are commonly used in social science.  Participants are therefore given the opportunity to identify methods relevant to their own research.

The training was held at The University of Sheffield in the Diamond Building on the 21st January 2020. Content and speakers were curated by the Director of the WRDTP Advanced Qualitative Methods Training Group Dr Andrew Bell. The following academics delivered bite-sized introductions to various methods:

Professor Alasdair Rae, Professorial Fellow, Urban Studies and Planning, University of SheffieldMapping Data

Mark Bryan, Reader in Economics, Department of Economics, University of SheffieldCausality

Dr Nema Dean, Senior Lecturer, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of GlasgowLatent Variable Models

Dr Todd Hartman, Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Methods, Sheffield Methods Institute, University of SheffieldStructural Equation Models

Griff Rees, Research Associate, Sheffield Methods Institute, University of SheffieldSocial Network Analysis

Event feedback - what did students attending think of the training?

The below charts represent percentage of respondents who answered Agree or Strongly Agree to a given question:

The objectives of the workshop were clearly defined

The content was well organised and easy to follow

The speakers were knowledgeable and prepared to answer questions

The experience will be useful to my studies

What did you find most useful about this training?

To see what kind of quantitative method training is out there. To network with other students.

It was approachable and clear. It was more of a signposting event that raised awareness rather than knowledge of research methods.

It provided an insight in to the different advanced quantitative methods that may be useful in my research, and beyond my PhD

It was great to gain an overview of several different methods on the same day. The speakers were all very inspiring because they were clearly experts and this enabled them to present a lot of information in a short space of time.

A good introduction to see how some of the methods could be applied to my research and helped me decide which of the full-day course I wish to attend as a result, in order to learn more

Defining terms I’ve heard but not previously understood e.g. multivariate modelling, latent variable

It was useful to have the opportunity to reflect upon different AQM research methods and techniques and appreciate how and why these different techniques can be applied in different research studies.

Open Scholarships and Data Management Training, 27th January 2020 – Feedback

The aim of the WRDTP Open Scholarships and Data Management training event is to provide doctoral researchers with an introduction to the concepts of open scholarship, open access data, shared access data and research data management.

The training was held at The University of Sheffield in the INOX Conferencing suite on the 27th January 2020. Content and speakers were curated by the WRDTP with various experts in the field of research presenting on the following topices:

Dr Anastasia Shesterinina, Lecturer in Politics/International Politics, Department of Politics, University of SheffieldResearch data management

Helen Foster, Faculty Librarian for Social Sciences, University of Sheffield LibraryOpen access scholarly resources

Anca Vlad, UK Data ServiceUK Data Services perspectives

Professor Alasdair Rae, Professorial Fellow, Urban Studies and Planning, University of SheffieldEmbracing open access publishing

Bev Jones, Scholarly Communications Librarian Librarian, Research Data Management Team, University of SheffieldResearch data management training workshop

Event feedback - what did students attending think of the training?

The below charts represent percentage of respondents who answered Agree or Strongly Agree to a given question:

The objectives of the workshop were clearly defined

The content was organised well and easy to follow

The speakers were knowledgeable and prepared to answer questions

The experience will be useful to my studies

What did you find most useful about this training?

The UK Data service talk – describing the resources available

I found the talk by Anastasia Shesterinina especially inspirational. She provided detailed guidance on the organisation, documentation, protection, storage and sharing of data. She also highlighted the importance of different data types for the triangulation of facts from different sources. Excellent presentation!

I thought the most useful aspects of the training and talks were those on creating a dmp.

Hearing experiences forced me to think deeper on this matter and pre-plan better.

It was useful to hear different perspectives and advice about Data Management Planning, as well as receive advice about seeking opportunities and techniques for displaying/disseminating research.

PhD Internship opportunities at the Royal Institution

The Royal Institution (Ri) currently has the following placement opportunities for ESRC-funded PhD students:

Education Programmes Assistant – One internship available to join the Ri’s Schools Programme for a three-month placement to gain experience of education outreach and science communication. The internship was originally planned for May to July 2020 but will now be flexible depending on circumstances (possibly September to December 2020).

The Education Programme Assistant will lead on the evaluation of the Ri’s Science in Schools programme and will be a key member of the outreach team assisting with the development and roll out of the Ri’s new Science in Schools show.

The closing date for receipt of applications has been extended and is now 9.00am on Monday 6 April 2020.

To apply:

Please send your CV and supporting statement (500 words max) to recruitment@ri.ac.uk

Christmas Lectures Assistant – One internship available to join the Ri for three months at its busiest and most exciting time of the year: the planning, filming and broadcast of the Christmas Lectures. The Ri is looking for someone from the end of September to the end of December 2020.

The intern will be a key part of the delivery team for the lectures, working alongside the Ri Team. They will assist with preparations for the creation, development and implementation of the Christmas Lectures and associated activities.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 9.00am on Tuesday 21 April 2020.

To apply:

Please send your CV and supporting statement (500 words max) to recruitment@ri.ac.uk

For full internship information including ‘about the role’ and interview schedules please visit The Royal Institution website.

Student Experience

Kim Butterfield

University of Leeds; Data, Communication and New Technologies (DCT) Pathway

Agent-Based Modelling and Spatial Planning, Sainsbury’s PLC Company Internship

In September 2019, I embarked on a paid 3-month internship with my PhD collaborators, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, to work as an Analytical Systems Junior Developer. I was gratefully awarded funding from the WRDTP’s Company Internship Scheme which covered my accommodation and travel costs for the 3-months. I packed up my life and temporarily moved into a shared house in Coventry to work within the Property, Analytics and Insight department at Sainsbury’s. The purpose of this internship was to understand the property analytics function at Sainsbury’s, identify where my research fits within their business and was provided with an opportunity to be hands-on with my data with the support of the team.

Kim Butterfield

The first few months of the internship was spent on learning the analytical software Alteryx, which is a workflow-based approach that makes data analysis less daunting due to the user-friendly layout. Tools are clicked and dragged onto a workspace and you set the parameters depending on the analysis you would like to do.

I recommend all students at least have a look into the software as it has saved so much time preparing and manipulating large datasets! Thankfully, students have access to a free student license to Alteryx Designer, which always makes our lives easier. My external supervisor at Sainsbury’s, Samantha Hughes, taught me Structure Query Language (SQL) alongside Alteryx, which is used to pull in data from large databases. Having a hands-on experience working in the industry provided me with an insight into how those outside of academia can learn from one another and develop solid analytical skills, and how to approach time-constrained tasks. I was given my own project mid-way through the internship that supported a larger development by the team, which I was honoured to be a part of. The whole team was incredibly welcoming during my 3-months and we had a blast at various conferences, team night-outs and teamworking event days.

I also had the opportunity to join the team in attending the Alteryx Inspire Europe 2019 conference in London at Tobacco Dock. Over the 2 days, we attended numerous seminars, workshops, events and keynotes all related to Alteryx. It provided me with an insight into the variety of companies that use the software, and how integral this software will be for the rest of my analytical journey.

I attended Sainsbury’s own Love Data ‘Unconference’ onsite, where we streamed in live talks from colleagues across the country and had a chance to network with those within our wider team.

The final conference I attended was Big Data London held at Olympia. The conference focused on Artificial Intelligence and the importance of data-driven business. The highlight of the conference was the live keynote from Chris Wylie about Cambridge Analytica and the future of data protection. Thanks to Sainsbury’s, I attended a variety of conferences that I would have not been able to attend due to travel and ticket costs therefore I am extremely grateful for the opportunities. Each conference provided me with an insight into how my research can be applied in different areas of industry, which I struggled to understand before. After attending these conferences, I feel much more confident in explaining my research to those outside of academia, and identifying the areas of my work which will benefit others.

As my internship was coming to an end, I spent my final weeks getting to know the data provided for my PhD by Sainsbury’s. With the support of my team, I explored my dataset thoroughly and created some summaries so I could hit the ground running back in Leeds. During this time, I realised how little I knew about my dataset, how rich it is, and I began to really appreciate what my collaborators have provided me with. I had an amazing 3-months at Sainsbury’s; I made a family away from home, I made new best-friends, learned how to fix a broken sink pipe (don’t ask!), realised the potential of my research, and most importantly, I learned the value of having a strong relationship between myself/my research/university and Sainsbury’s. Every month I have online meetings with my external supervisor and keep the team up to date with how my research is going. This year I intend on visiting the Coventry office again to teach the Location Planning Team about my research, and how it will be of use to them and their spatial modelling tasks. I recommend all PhD students to seek internship opportunities especially those with a collaborative partner. The networking and research experience in industry is invaluable, and the support of the Company Internship Scheme made life a whole lot easier when moving cities.

Jake Robinson

University of Sheffield; Cities, Environment and Liveability (CEL) Pathway

Report on Overseas Institutional Visit, University of Adelaide, Australia

The overseas institution visit to the University in Adelaide was a fantastic experience. The visit easily met my expectations––and the sunny weather, new cultures and landscapes were the icing on the cake!

An important benefit of the visit was that it enabled me to build my network of international researchers and practitioners. I also had the opportunity to learn new skills––in particular in the realms of environmental microbiome (the consortium of microorganisms out in the natural world) and human health research. The interdisciplinary nature of these skills were highly complementary to my PhD programme. The researchers in Adelaide are world leaders in this particular set of disciplines and learning from them was extremely valuable. I had the opportunity to discuss my research with several academics from a range of backgrounds with different views/perspectives.

I attended a conference during my visit, which provided me with additional networking opportunities. I also received specialist research training as part of an aerobiome (microbial communities in the air) project which was not available in the UK at the time. There was also some time to explore the local landscapes and cultures––which undoubtably enriched the experienced. I also found Adelaide to be very easy to get around, and it is very ‘green’ (see photo) and has a friendly/social atmosphere. The library is awesome too (see other photo!).

I met new colleagues but also friends––some city dwellers, one who took me on an eventful mountain biking adventure, one who had a family sheep ranch out in the bush with tens of thousands of acres of land (I actually joined them for a Christmas meal, which was awesome!), and an amazing couple all the way from Ecuador––who shared some fascinating stories from their lives in South America!

The visit enabled me to further build my network and learn new skills, which will no doubt be useful to my PhD research and future career. I’ve met research collaborators and I’m currently working on new publications with researchers from Adelaide, which will hopefully also have a positive impact on my PhD and future career.

Overall, the OIV was an incredibly valuable experience, both on an academic and personal level. I would highly encourage other PhD students to apply for the funding opportunity as it would undoubtedly allow them to strengthen their research and future careers by providing experiences outside of their home institutions – e.g., broadening horizons, learning from different perspectives, and potentially gaining new skills and contacts for future collaborations––but also new friends!

As I mentioned earlier, researchers in Adelaide (both at University of Adelaide and Flinders University) are currently leading the field in environment-microbiome-health axis research. They have highly collaborative researchers––and I personally think being as collaborative as possible is a vital step forward in research given the plethora of inextricably connected issues facing the planet. We need to be more open and work together!

For more insight into Jake’s research and his work with his OIV host Martin Breed, you can access the published article The Lovebug Effect: Is the human biophilic drive influenced by interactions between the host, the environment, and the microbiome?’ online via the ScienceDirect website

Tamara Satmarean

University of Sheffield; Well-being, Health and Communities (WHC) Pathway

Ask and you will receive, A report following a research placement with South Yorkshire Police

NPIF funded placement

I was coming to the end of the first year of my PhD in Psychology when I started being asked what my plans were for when I finished my PhD and other anxiety provoking questions. I had helped organise the Faculty of Science Graduate School Poster Showcase and had a chance to speak to industry representatives who were used to recruiting PhD students from Physics, Maths, Biochemistry and other departments but I had never heard of this happening for Psychology or Social Sciences students. Naturally, I started wondering about career pathways taken by social scientists- I was particularly interested in careers outside academia. My PhD being in information processing in relation to aggression and antisocial behaviour, I was mostly interested in talking to people working in law enforcement or policymaking agencies. As a first step, I attended policy and grant writing workshops offered by the University of Sheffield and the White Rose DTP. In the meantime, I started adding people whose careers seemed like something I would want to do on LinkedIn. I had many questions but I only asked them when I knew exactly what I wanted to find out.

I contacted Detective Chief Inspector Tate on LinkedIn initially to ask questions about potential research careers in the police. This started an exciting conversation about data collected by the police, its current uses, and issues on which the police and academia had worked together in the past. The police had never taken on research volunteers but I started looking for research grants that would enable me to conduct research for them, which I thought would give me a unique opportunity to learn more about an organisation that is so difficult to access otherwise. I applied for the ESRC National Productivity Innovation Placement fund and I was granted funding for a 3-month research placement. I remember sitting in front of a police computer looking through enormous databases of criminal and antisocial behaviour data, survey data from victims, community members, data relating to police initiatives, and being incredibly excited about all the questions we could answer. Beyond working with fascinating data, I enjoyed getting people involved in the research process. Detective Inspector Knowles, my supervisor, was very much involved in designing the research methods I used. We had numerous discussions about the ontological and epistemological assumptions we were making and the kind of knowledge we thought would emerge from the research.

I enjoy talking about my research, as I think every PhD student does, but I was talking about antisocial behaviour to people who deal with the full spectrum of antisocial behaviours on a daily basis. I ended up going through elements of theoretical models whilst detectives talked about behaviours they had encountered that resembled these elements. We talked about the intersection of academia and policing and although when I first arrived they were reluctant to see how the two have anything to do with each other, we found value in each other’s work. Sure, it was intimidating at times because I said yes to everything so I found myself on community safety boards with senior figures in the police asking for my opinion. A few weeks before the end of the placement, a job opportunity came up and I was appointed the Organised Crime Groups Partnership Coordinator for the Rotherham district. I have been fortunate to work with a team of people who made it possible to ask questions but also made every effort to encourage my own development whilst I was working with them. I believe this is only the beginning- I think as PhD students we learn to push ourselves beyond anything we thought we could do until we find out we can do anything.

Patrick Kaczmarzyk

University of Sheffield, Civil Society, Development and Democracy (CDD) Pathway

Un peu de changement à Paris – Experiences from my OIV

A life in the heart of Paris in one of the most beautiful quartiers in town – the Quartier Latin in the 6th Arrondissement. Just around the corner of Notre-Dame and minutes away from the Panthéon and the Jardin du Luxembourg. Beautiful restaurants and cafés around, runs along the river Seine, passing the Louvre, the Pont Alexandre III and the Invalides, up to the Eiffel Tower and back. Daily walks across the Boulevard Saint-Germain, with its Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore: two of the famous cafés littéraires, once frequented by writers, artists, and philosophers such as Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Pablo Picasso or Albert Camus. I could go on with this, but what sounds more like a movie or a short vacation trip, was my day-to-day experience during my Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV) in Paris, funded by the ESRC and the WRDTP.

From October until December 2019, I was based at the Centre d’études européennes et de politique compare (CEE) at Sciences Po. The main purpose of my stay was to work on publications out of my PhD, and for that I was placed in one of the best institutions in Europe, working with and getting feedback from some of the most renowned political economists. While the advice and comments I received from my supervisor Cornelia Woll, and colleagues such as Olivier Godechot, Bruno Palier, as well as fellow PhD students and visiting scholars at the CEE and MaxPo (joint-research institution of Sciences Po and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies), were of immeasurable value for the progress of my research, and the reason why I now have 1-2 articles that can be send out to academic journals, my OIV was a lot more enriching than that.

In some ways, it started even before I left. During the first year of my PhD, I realised that in order to provide the highest quality answers to my research questions, I would have to become fluent in French to speak to interviewees in their native language. I started to take language courses at the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) at the University of Sheffield, which was also covered by the WRDTP, and left for Paris with a decent level of language capabilities.

Now, Parisians are known for being unfriendly and always in a rush. I guess similar prejudices exist about New Yorkers or Londoners. Yet, the first words that I have heard when I got off the train at the Gare du Nord in Paris, loaded with suitcases and bags, were: “Do you need any help?” It may well be of course that the person asking me this was not Parisian. But this did not change anything on the fact that this was something that I experienced over and over while I was there. I stayed in the Maison Suger in the 6th arrondissement, which is a house for visiting social science researchers from all over the world. It is a great place to make new connections, exchange and discuss research ideas, and live a very comfortable life right in the heart of Paris – not least because of the generous facilities and incredibly supportive staff. My host university, Sciences Po, was just a 10-minute walk away, so that I was able to avoid the crowded metro (or other public transport that came to a standstill in December due to strikes).

The university itself offered a great range of opportunities not only to meet high-end academics, politicians, policymakers, and other celebrities, but also to collaborate and mingle with students and staff. The basis for this were regular seminars over lunch (often with delicious baguette-sandwiches of course), regular soirées pour les enseignants (a meet-up over cheese and wine for all teaching staff, both internal and external), and a physical set-up that made it easy to reach out across faculties. Politics and political economy PhD students, for example, were all sitting in one room, right next to the economists and some sociologists – all sharing the same kitchen facilities where most of the exchange took place. Such basic things were, in my view, more effective to foster interdisciplinary collaborations than any conferences or top-down initiatives. In such an environment, it happens organically, and one learns about different methods and techniques, which one would not have thought of otherwise. The best example here is perhaps the use of the Quanteda package in R, which is a very useful tool for analyse texts, and which I was introduced to by several political scientists analysing parliamentary speeches.

Outside the university, it is needless to say that there are probably few places in the world that have more to offer than Paris. Museums, art galleries, libraries, restaurants, wine bars…the list is endless. I have had friends from Sciences Po inviting me over to French Poésie-Nights, where we enjoyed some good wine and listened to people performing their favourite poems, sometimes to some nice acoustic sounds in the background. A bunch of Southerners from Toulouse and Marseille, who I met during one of our Sciences Po football sessions, helped me to explore some of the nicest restaurants and wine bars in Paris, and offered a fantastic place to stay, hang out, and relax at night. I also joined the parish of Saint-Germain-des-Près, which is the oldest church in Paris, but where the masses and séances were as full of energy and enthusiasm, as I have not seen it elsewhere. Here too, I have found a great circle of friends that will be with me way beyond my OIV.

In the end, although it was not the primary purpose of my OIV, it turned out to be additionally a substantial help to organise my fieldwork. A lot of it was based in Paris, but given that I am doing elite interviews, the access to the network of Sciences Po and the reputation of the school opened a number of doors, which, without a doubt, would have not been open to me otherwise. I was also able to extend my stay in Paris and use my ESRC research allowances and additional support from the University of Sheffield to fund my actual fieldwork, which was another unforeseen advantage of my OIV.

Overall, therefore, my time in Paris was both professionally and personally one of the most enriching experiences that I have ever had. For anyone thinking about the opportunity within the framework of their ESRC WRDTP funding, I can genuinely recommend not to hesitate to much, but to take advantage of it. It allows to pause with the PhD for a moment at to get publications out, which will be vital to enter the job market. Furthermore, it helps to develop a new set of skills that one may not even have anticipated before the OIV. Perhaps the most important aspect of all, however, is that it provides a unique chance to really get to know different cultures, find new friends and colleagues, and to develop one’s personality in a variety of most enriching ways.

Stephen Langford

University of Sheffield; Cities, Environment and Liveability (CEL) Pathway

OIV Orientation Visit, Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities at The University of Wollongong, Australia

Stephen Langford

I am a 2nd year PhD researcher, exploring how alliances across difference are made and sustained in contemporary British environmental activism and since March 2019 I have been undertaking active participant observation with Extinction Rebellion (XR) in London. I have become particularly interested in how the entanglement of language and framing, place, generations, music and performance are important in the mobilisation of activists.

I have just returned from a two-week orientation visit to the Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities at The University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia funded by a WRDTP Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV) scholarship. I am due to return later in the year for a month, COVID 19 permitting! The objective is to explore the establishment of research networks, disseminate my early research findings and gain feedback, participate in seminars and other academic activities that assist in improving the depth and quality of my research.

It felt like a ‘whirlwind’ visit but allowed me to present my research at the first seminar of the Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space (ACCESS) to Departmental staff and students and tutorial groups of 3 rd year undergraduates. I also had the opportunity for one to one meetings with most of the departmental staff and PhD researchers to explore their research interests and explain mine in more detail.

Academics at UOW have specific experience of the operationalisation of methodologies employed in co-production by Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental geographers of environmental research. They have long sought to work with Indigenous and migrant communities around environmental tensions. I am particularly interested to gain an insight to the practical opportunities and difficulties and assess the potential benefit of these approaches to my research. I hope that this will support the need for my research to take a more intersectional approach to issues of race and class, a topic which has emerged through my initial empirical research and which the Geographers at Wollongong have significant experience in navigating and working through. In particular the Geographers at Wollongong have a project actively exploring how to decolonise their department, their research and their teaching. Sharing this experience with them will be invaluable for critically thinking through how I need to explore these issues in working with Extinction Rebellion.

One unexpected benefit of this orientation visit was the opportunity to refine my research methodology and understand how I might use the research data that I have already generated to create powerful and new insights. In addition, one of the academic staff expressed an interest in writing a joint article about (discourse) policy formation via activism when I revisit the department later in the year.

Another enjoyable element of OIV is its reflexive opportunity; undoubtedly improved by the warm welcome and hospitality of the Department, the beautiful campus at UOW, the sunny weather and beautiful beaches!

Alice Wilson

University of York; Cities, Environment and Liveability (CEL) Pathway

Tiny houses: why more people are living in miniature – online publication

ESRC funded University of York PhD Research student Alice Wilson has recently had her article on the Tiny House movement published in The Conversation. To read about Alice’s research, visit here for the full article.

Alice Wilson


Training cancellations due to Covid-19

Due to the ongoing social distancing measures in place in the UK, and the current policy to cancel all face-to-face teaching and training within Universities, WRDTP training events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

We are currently working with the Pathway Directors and Deputies teams to identify online training opportunities for WRDTP students both on the MA Social Research degree and those currently engaged in PhD research.

Where possible, the same or similar training as had been planned will be offered as an online training session or as self study resources in the VIRE. Were training cannot be offered as an online option we will attempt to reschedule this once the ‘lock-down’ has been lifted.

We would like to thank you all for your calm and considered response to the current Covid-19 health crisis. The WRDTP team are available via email either at training@wrdtp.ac.uk for training related queries and at enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk for any other queries.

NCRM Training Opportunities

Upcoming (semester 2) training events from the NCRM. Please note that these training courses will incur a small joining fee to attend. Details on how to sign up can be found by following the links for each course.

NCRM have announced that many of their courses have been cancelled or postponed due to the recent global health crisis. If you are interested in one of the below sessions and are unsure from the website whether they are being run, please email info@ncrm.ac.uk for information.

Confirmed Online training opportunities

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic we will be delivering our ‘compulsory’ training events in some format online. These inlcude:

  • Working Beyond Disciplines for MA Social Research Students
  • AQUALM Taster Day

Both of these will be delivering in May 2020. Please keep checking your emails for further details including the programme of events and how to login to this training. In addition we will be offering a series of PGR Wellbeing training sessions online in early July.

Whilst we are hoping that we will all be able to meet up for the WRDTP Annual Conference in June, we are making contingency plans to deliver this online as well.

Thank you to all of you for your patience and perseverance and we hope that the programme of Pathway events will start filling up soon.


ESRC/DTP Funding Schemes 2019/20 – Second Call For Applications

ESRC Students Only

Call for Applications 2019/20

The White Rose DTP are pleased to announce the second call of the academic year 2019/20 for applications for the various funding schemes available to ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded doctoral researchers who commenced their studies after October 2011.

All information on the various funding schemes can be found in the ‘Managing your ESRC Award‘ section within the VIRE on the WRDTP website.

Please note that students applying for international conference attendance, overseas institutional visits or fieldwork expenses must adhere to their home institution’s COVID-19 guidance when planning any travel outside of the UK. The WRDTP is following the advice of the UK Government, and in case of any changes to the current situation, we will be in touch to provide an update to students affected.  

Society Now, Issue 35, Summer 2019

Issue 35 of Society Now, the ESRC’s regular and topical social science research magazine, is still available to read online.

You can choose to subscribe and receive printed copies of this magazine direct to your door for free. Or, you can view the magazine online on your computer or mobile device by visiting the ESRC’s website and downloading the content. The ESRC also keeps back issues of the Society Now magazine online if you have missed any previous publications. The next issue is due out in the next couple of months (though please be aware of Covid-19 related delays).

Student Representation

Staffing Update

Introducing the new WRDTP Director – Charlie Burns

It has been an absolute pleasure to take over the directorship of the White Rose Doctoral Training Programme notwithstanding the rather challenging and uncertain context in which we find ourselves. I consider myself to be a product of the White Rose institutions, as I did my undergraduate degree at York, my PhD and post-doc at Sheffield and my first permanent job was at Leeds. I was also funded by the ESRC for my PhD and post-doc. So, the WRDTP really does feels like a natural home to me.

Research- wise, when I am not assessing applications for scholarships, I focus upon the EU’s institutions, especially the European Parliament, and upon the impact of shocks upon environmental policy in the EU and UK. In the last few years much of my work has been focused upon Brexit and I have had to learn a whole range of new skills such as writing and giving verbal evidence to legislative committees and policy-makers, writing blog posts and media pieces and engaging with journalists. I look forward to sharing with you some of the lessons I have learnt (both good and bad) but also working with our fantastic training teams to bring together others with expertise to advise you on how to share your research with diverse audiences.

As a woman with two children, who made the decision when they were small to work part-time for eight years, I am also interested in and work upon Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education. I am very much aware that for those of you who are combining your studies with caring responsibilities, whether that be children, partners, or other loved ones, that the current context is incredibly challenging. We have all had to adjust to working from home, learning about new platforms for communication and reorienting our plans for the next few months. But for some of you these challenges will be that much greater because of everything else you have to do. I have been warmed to see how well the wider scholarly community has responded to this pandemic and the support and advice that colleagues have shared. Please do reach out to each other to offer support. If there is anything that you need from the DTP reach out to us as well.

New Appointment: CEL Pathway Director Will Eadson

(from Sheffield Hallam University staff profile)

Will has worked in environmental, economic and social policy research and teaching since 2004, on a wide range of research projects for local, regional and national government, charities and housing bodies. Will’s central research interests lay around the urban sustainability and energy transitions, with particular interest in the position of local economies that might be vulnerable or exposed to changes in policy or the economic value of carbon emissions. In particular he is interested in better understanding the spatial interrelations of social and economic vulnerability to low carbon transitions.

Will is also currently leading a programme of work around the future of urban green space, including two research projects for Groundwork UK, focusing respectively on catalysing community engagement with green space and engaging young people in green space and environmental action.

Will was previously the Deputy Director for the Cities, Environment and Liveability Pathway and takes on the Directorship role from Professor Nichola Wood.