Twenty-two PhD and early-career researchers from twelve Scottish HEIs joined us for ‘Policy Stories’ in November.

Meet Our Delegates

Jacinta2 Jacinta Mary Birchley

University of Aberdeen
Children and young people who are or who have been “looked after” form one of the most vulnerable groups in Scotland. The state, via the local authority and its partners take on the role as Corporate Parents to these chlidren. However, it has been found that this Corporate Parent roles has not been effective as originally envisaged by the Scottish Government as their outcomes, and in particular the educational outcomes have not improved. What lessons does the Corporate Parent need to learn?

Cara broadleyCara Broadley
Glasgow School of Art
My PhD explored creative ways to engage with communities. Inspired by my design background, I developed techniques to enrich community consultation, surveys, and interviews, and used these to encourage dialogue and build relationships. These methods have translated into my postdoctoral research in the context of wellbeing, including enhancing emotional support for women following miscarriage, addressing social isolation and loneliness in older generations, and celebrating the resource and resilience of third sector organisations in Scotland. My ambition is to embed creative, visual, and participatory approaches to working with communities into the policy landscape, and share the real stories behind the statistics.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_04_Image_0002Emma Craddock
University of Aberdeen
In April 1981 three days of intense disorder engulfed Brixton. Whilst not race riots, racial tension and discrimination provided substantial motivation to riot. This, combined with the perception that the rioters were mainly black youths, meant that the issue of race was forced to the forefront of British politics. This is particularly evident when the subsequent inquiry and political fact finding processes are considered. My research is focused upon these processes; especially the official inquiry chaired by Lord Scarman. It aims to illustrate, in light of such inquiry, how politicians and the public interacted with, and were encouraged to think about, race.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_04_Image_0001Dr Ashvin Devasundaram
Heriot-Watt University
Dr Ashvin Devasundaram co-organised Edinburgh’s first independent Asian film festival at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. He is Programming Adviser, London Asian Film Festival, and BBC Academy Expert Voice, Cultural Studies/Visual Arts. As Britain charts political policies on the refugee crisis, the one-size-fits-all category ‘illegal immigrants’ can overlook multiple human stories. I aim to influence policy by unpacking this category using Stowaway, a Creative Scotland-supported play that approaches storytelling as a political act. I will synthesise film studies, political theatre, interviews with refugees/asylum seekers and film/theatre directors into a public engagement multilogue between policymakers, the voluntary sector and communities.


Caroline Engel_profile photo ecaCaroline Engel
University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh College of Art,
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA)
My doctoral research investigates the links between conservation theory, advocacy, policy and practice in regards to the conservation of modern movement architecture in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. A selection of modern conservation projects in each country from 1990 onward have been analysed to determine how policies have changed to accommodate for late-20th century heritage and how conservation practices have evolved to deal with failing materials, operational changes and stigma. To understand these difficulties on a local level, I spoke with policy makers and post-war heritage specialists in Edinburgh, London, New York, Boston and Minneapolis.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_05_Image_0001Jennifer Farrar
University of Glasgow
How parents and children read together is often influenced by perceptions of ‘what counts’ in the classroom. But what happens when the books sent home from school refuse to conform to schooled expectations? What resources do readers draw on when the books they are reading refuse to behave? And what lessons about literacy might these texts teach us? Offering a glimpse into the ‘unofficial’ reading practices of families, this research challenges policy makers to rethink the rhetoric surrounding the role of the home-school relationship, and suggests ways of embedding crucial, critical literacies outside of the classroom walls.

profile shot Sarah HamlinSarah Hamlin
University of Glasgow

My name is Sarah and I’m here from New Zealand to research the complex interrelationship between art and politics in Scotland. My thesis examines some of these questions in relation to the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, which acted as a flashpoint for how we understand the role of art in politics and vice versa, as well as the role of the artist as a public voice. My research can help us to understand why the independent thought of artists is important in a modern democracy, and to appreciate that art and politics are always subject to a mutual influence.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_06_Image_0002Dr Claire Hawes
University of St Andrews
Dr Claire Hawes is a historian of medieval Scotland. Her work focuses on questions of governance, including the role of the Scottish parliament, the formation and influence of corporations, the relationship between public and private authority and the personal morality of rulers, or indeed lack thereof. All these issues are regularly debated in both the Scottish and UK media. By engaging with policy-makers and the public Claire seeks to bring a historical perspective to the big political questions of our time, and to tell stories about the Middle Ages that go beyond the well-worn themes of independence and national identity.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_06_Image_0001Matluba Khan
University of Edinburgh
My research aims at the development of design guidelines for primary school grounds that can enhance children’s learning. Recent research provides evidence about the benefits of outdoor environment for children. As such there is a growing concern about taking children to the outdoors for teaching of curriculum content across different countries. Following an experimental action research strategy my study looks into the affordances of a school ground designed and built involving teachers, children and community. The guidelines derived through this study can inform the policy makers about ways of developing school ground that can support children’s creative learning.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_07_Image_0002Alison MacDonald
University of Aberdeen
After returning to the University of Aberdeen in 2011 to complete an LLM, my main research interest is now marine law and marine spatial planning (MSP). I am passionate about the role of law in MSP, as law provides the foundation upon which the relationships between states and between the state and society are governed. By investigating MSP at a national level, focussing on renewable energy and taking into consideration current European and international legal obligations, my research will make a unique contribution to the practical implementation of MSP law and policy in Scotland, in Europe and internationally.

Photo Ana MoraesAna Moraes
University of Glasgow
What is the point of cultural policy for today’s Scottish film industry? My research aims to bridge the gap between the film industry, academia and policymakers. I look back at Scottish Screen, Scotland’s former screen agency, to examine its funding schemes and the people behind them. My conclusions highlight why film policy still has a crucial role today and how it is imperative to look back at previous funding practices before new ones are devised. I have worked at the Edinburgh International Film Festival Industry and Talent department since 2008, as well as several other UK festivals.

Fiona MunroFiona Munro
University of Glasgow

Many parts of Scotland are being transformed as renewable energy resources are being exploited through new developments and infrastructure. My research is uncovering the drivers and impacts of this development. I focus on Scotland and look at three case studies from across the electricity system: production (North Yell Tidal Scheme, Shetland), transmission (proposed Shetland-Scotland mainland electric grid interconnector), and storage (Cruachan Pumped-Hydro Scheme). I am a third year PhD Student in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow. This research will inform policy makers who need to better understand the drivers and impacts of developing renewable energy to improve the benefits from development.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_08_Image_0002Roseannah Murphy
University of Strathclyde
My research examines Glasgow’s literature in the context of deindustrialisation and the city’s early adoption of culture-led regeneration strategies. I consider how the literary legacy of Glasgow’s industrial past is reimagined and reinterpreted in contemporary representations of postindustrial urban spaces, as contemporary writers portray the cultural and social impact of deindustrialisation and controversial urban regeneration projects. Moreover, I question the role local literature has played in place-making – from Glasgow’s inauguration as the European Capital of Culture in 1990 to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 – tracing the political and creative engagement of local writers with Glasgow’s burgeoning cultural infrastructure.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_09_Image_0001James Nixon
University of Glasgow

My research topic focuses on Obama-era political/cultural relationships in the United States, particularly that of comedy. My initial chapter highlights how President Obama uses the comic form, specifically stand-up comedy, as a way of deflecting criticism of his administration and promoting controversial policies. In subsequent chapters I examine political and social commentaries from a range of established stand-up comedians from various positions on the political spectrum. My aim is to provide a detailed assessment of the contemporary comic environment in the Obama era and how it has become an increasingly powerful and influential form for public engagement in political and cultural strategies.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_09_Image_0002.jpgBeth Pearson
University of Glasgow
If my research were a news story, the headline would probably be “Diverse Voices Vital for Democratic Media (Especially Post-Authoritarian)”. My thesis looks at whether civil society actors gain more access to the media during democratisation in South America, particularly human rights campaigners in Uruguay. However, the broader question of who gets media access and what kind of access is relevant to media and cultural policy-making everywhere. As coverage of the recent refugee crisis has brought into sharp focus, it is particularly pertinent to the creation of a “human rights culture” as is a current concern in Scotland.

1306 Jonathan PriceJon Price
Robert Gordon University
What is the future of cultural leadership? Whose values shape cultural policy? How can government, the public and the cultural sector each contribute to its development?
Cultural leadership has attracted huge investment and international attention in relation to improving the running of cultural organisations but the sector’s circumstances have shifted. Jon Price’s research demonstrates that leadership remains vital to cultural life but needs redefining to reflect new political, economic and social challenges. This has implications for artists, cultural managers, educators and policy makers. Price has extensive experience in public sector cultural management, from local authority arts development to European programmes.

Ben Redman Profile Pic Nov 2015Benjamin Redman
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Use of emerging technologies in school instrumental music teaching
I am a part-time research student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I am also a school instrumental music teacher and a professional musician. I am investigating the use of emerging technologies such as real-time video conferencing in school instrumental music teaching. Technology can offer students greater educational opportunities; allow flexibility of time, pace and place; and have greater breadth in geographic reach. My aim is to provide an evidence base for the use of emerging technologies, using systematically gathered and critically evaluated data, and to influence policy within this area.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_11_Image_0001Helen Shallow
University of the West of Scotland
I’m Helen the midwife. Increasing numbers of women report that they are not believed or taken seriously when labour begins. That they are turned away from maternity services concerns me. Midwives report they are constrained from being the midwife they trained to be. I undertook feminist participatory action research in order to collaborate with and include mothers and midwives’ recommendations for service improvement. Although I raised awareness individually and locally, I need to maximize my potential to influence national maternity service policy; which has for too long focused on medicalising childbirth to the detriment of many otherwise well women.

M.Siddiq.jpgMaryam Siddiq
The Glasgow School of Art
Experiences inform expectation and affect perception; my doctoral research attempts to understand this through a study of the quantifiable entity thermal comfort, particularly focusing on the unavoidable variations in experience and exposure due to the inequalities in the social and economic status of a population. Through concentrating on hot climatic regions in developing countries, this study will provide the knowledge, and through its implementation, the opportunity, to make lifestyle choices that are environmentally and culturally sustainable, in parts of the world where it is most needed.


Vitalija StepusaityteVitalija Stepusaityte
Heriot-Watt University

There is no place like home, people say, but what does that mean? Can we explain home or do we have to experience it in order to understand? But to experience what: rootedness, belonging, dwelling or grounding, or maybe loss? My research is about Lithuanians living in Scotland, and their experiences and understandings of home. I am interested in a search for a ‘better life’; how we survive in an unknown, unfamiliar places financially, socially, and emotionally; and how re-discovering relationships and attachments to things, places, people and nation states reshape our experiences of when, where and how we are at home.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_12_Image_0002.jpgAlice Tarbuck
University of Dundee
My PhD, ‘The Poetry & Practice of Thomas A. Clark’, explores the unique relationship between formally innovative poetry and the environment. Focusing on Thomas A. Clark (1944-), Scottish visual artist & poet, my thesis examines how artists books, minimalist poetry, installation and tactile objects can uniquely inform and influence our understanding of the self in relation to the natural world. Clark’s complex work promotes immersion in immediate nature –a powerful tool for encouraging engagement with the environments. It also speaks to increased land access and its benefits for the environment and for human wellbeing.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_13_Image_0001.jpgLindsey Cordiner Vyse
University of Aberdeen
Architecture is not just about how a building looks, but about how it feels: my research looks into how we talk about our reactions to buildings. I am focusing on hospital architecture, talking to healthcare professionals to see how they speak about their workspace. I also examine how architects interpret what these doctors and nurses say about the buildings. Healthcare policy represents a huge financial investment for Scotland, and a clear understanding about what is required of a new hospital building is essential. From planning, to construction and completion, effective communication is needed in order to affect policy implementation.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_13_Image_0002Mariclaire White
University of Stirling
My research examines the issues which face book culture in Scotland in the 21st Century, including decreasing printed book sales, the rise of digital media and competing consumer demands. There is much debate and uncertainty surrounding the role of the book in modern society and my research looks at alternatives to traditional book production such as digital innovation, and the growth of literary tourism. I hope to disseminate my findings to the relevant policy makers to illustrate the importance of book culture in Scotland both culturally and economically, so that assistance, both monetary and otherwise, reaches publishers, authors and booksellers to help them grow in a changing digital landscape.

Participants booklet NEWEST_Page_14_Image_0001Carley Williams
University of Aberdeen
Scotland has not yet adopted UNESCO’s 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. My research aims to develop a working model for safeguarding in Scotland, based on successful on-the-ground initiatives in which communities, groups and individual practitioners are at the heart of the process. Bringing these voices to the fore through ethnographic fieldwork, I will contribute to our understanding of safeguarding issues through practical application of UNESCO’s ideals and international best-practice.