Southlands Methodist Trust provides grants to academics across Roehampton University’s academic departments, supporting projects which would explore areas of work that fulfil the charitable objectives of the SMT. Read about recent projects below:
2020 – 2021
The effect of COVID-19 Lockdown on the learning journey of commuter students.
Over the past few tumultuous weeks, as a result of the Lockdown imposed by COVID-19, the Roehampton Business School has had to rapidly transition to more home and digitally based teaching and learning. The research proposed in this application will explore the effect of the changes on the learning journey of commuter students who are the majority in the Business School. The work package will comprise two stages of development:
- A systematic literature review to gauge existing literature that addresses commuter student learning experiences and engagement. Although academic research in this area is nascent, there are a few papers that are seeking to inform policy on addressing the needs of this category of students.
- The literature review will be followed by interviews and focus groups. Our concern is with the learning journey of commuter students and how the Business School can meet those needs. The COVID-19 lockdown negatively affected the ‘sticky campus’ strategy causing us, and students, to adapt quickly. This study will provide an opportunity to learn how students coped and what lessons can be learned for the future. Data will be collected on a sample of commuter students studying Business at Roehampton University. Data will be analysed using thematic analysis underpinned by knowledge gained from the literature review.
The findings of the research will be able to provide evidence-based information for interventions offered by Southlands College to the Business School’s large majority of commuter students in this “new normal” era. The research will also enable the Business School to strengthen its learning culture linked to outcomes for its students, such as satisfaction and motivation for learning. Last but not least, the opportunity for dialogue and reflection embedded into the project design will serve as a robust feedback mechanism for the Business School to prioritise time and resources into effective learning journeys for its students.
Lead researcher: Prof Sunitha Narendran, Business School, firstname.lastname@example.org
The effects of the coronavirus lockdown on children’s psychosocial and educational adjustment during school transition
What are the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown on pupils’ outcomes, especially for those who undergo school transition simultaneously? This question can only be asked because we have a single historical event impacting people’s lives at the same time. The aim of this study is to explore the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown on children’s psychosocial and educational adjustment during school transition.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, the subjects of school closure and social distancing measures have become key discussion points, especially as their impact on children is almost unknown. This crisis may have affected children who are in transition from primary to secondary education more, as the lockdown may have impeded schools’ preparation towards this transition. Understanding these impacts will not only be important for identifying potential inventions and support programmes in future major crises, it will also provide a general indication of how transitioning children can be supported this year. To achieve this aim, views from parents and children in interviews six months after the beginning of the lockdown will be gathered. The research will be disseminated to relevant educational trusts, schools, parents and pupils and will likely have an impact at the national and international levels.
Lead researcher: Dr Arielle Bonneville-Roussy, School of Education
‘Lockdown Stories’: Community-driven initiatives of solidarity and care during the new coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19 in the UK
This is a research project that focuses on community, grassroots responses to CoVid-19 in the UK and aims to: first, reflect on pandemic-related stories of solidarity, care and mutual support during and after the coronavirus crisis in the UK; and second, document best practices of community resilience and transformational work, as these emerge from stories of care, solidarity and cooperation.
The project consists of two main activities. First: the empirical research (online) and second, dissemination of project’s results (digital database and conferences). In more detail:
1. Digital database/online resource for knowledge sharing.
Digital ethnography refers to Internet or cyber-ethnography (the ethnography of online worlds), including the use of ethnographic research methods in online/digital spaces; the use or adaptation of traditional ethnographic fieldwork methods to study and interpret digitally mediated cultures. For Underberg-Goode (2020)0F, this can incorporate the study of real-life cultures using narrative techniques and similar to our case, storytelling.
We draw on digital ethnography to collect ‘lockdown’, inspirational stories of solidarity and care shared by community, grassroots groups in various blogs, online newspaper sites, and digital storytelling platforms (such as social media; Facebook and Twitter). These will be complemented by interviews, conducted on Zoom or other similar platform, with members of some of these identified initiatives.
2. Digital ethnography will be used for the empirical research and particularly the data collection process.
As part of the outputs of the project, we aim to create a digital database, which will constitute an online resource for all the stakeholders of the project. This database will include:
a) inspirational stories, ‘lockdown’ stories of solidarity and care, as these are shared online / social media platforms by community-driven initiatives based in the UK;
b) an online networking space / platform for local initiatives to share knowledge and resources that will contribute to their sustainability and social impact.
Lead researcher: Prof Maria Daskalaki, Business School
 Underberg-Goode, N. M. (2020). Digital Ethnography. In Handbuch Soziale Praktiken und Digitale Alltagswelten (pp. 393-399). Springer VS, Wiesbaden.
An investigation into social control by neglect
The project is an investigation into social control by neglect. That is to say, the absence of institutional control and social support in the lives of certain groups. It is intended that a number of case studies will illustrate the conceptual parameters of this theory. Key informants in four sites: criminal justice, disability welfare, homelessness and migration will be consulted. The funding will pay for the transcription of approximately half the case study interviews; that is, 19 interviews (which will all be done over the phone) conducted in two of the sites of neglect: disability benefits and migration.
Lead researcher: Dr Natasha Du Rose, Department of Social Sciences
Latin American professional women and men in the UK: A critical exploration of the workplace experiences and career trajectories of an understudied immigrant group
This research project examines the workplace experiences, career trajectories and professional identity of Latin American professionals in London – an understudied immigrant group in the UK. It builds on the applicant’s previous research on gender, race and class inequality in professional occupations in Mexico (Ruiz-Castro, 2012, Ruiz-Castro & Holvino, 2016), the long work hours culture in professional service firms in the UK (Lupu, Ruiz-Castro & Leca, in press) and professionals’ career transitions in the UK (Ruiz-Castro, Van der Heijden & Henderson, under review).
Employing qualitative research methods, including semi-structured interviews and focus groups with Latin American women and men in professional occupations in London, this study will examine Latin American professionals’ strategies of integration into the workplace and of career advancement. It will also identify the ways in which Latin Americans construct their professional identity in the British workplace. Finally, it will consider how Latin Americans’ own gendered, raced and classed practices as well as current contextual factors, such as Brexit and Covid-19, influence their career choices and trajectories. This project will also promote collaboration and knowledge exchange between BAME and immigrant practitioners and students as well as scholars and organisations supporting the Latin American community in London.
Lead researcher: Dr Mayra Ruiz-Castro, Business School
Once More with Feeling: A reinvention of Hysteria using photography, performance and writing
This project consists of an art exhibition and a series of corresponding satellite events. Over the year events and exhibitions will be held both at Roehampton and external institutions such as The Freud Museum (London) and the Royal College of Art (RCA). The project is premised on my practice-based PhD research at the RCA and aims to generate public engagement concerning societal frameworks, historical and contemporary, of the repression of women.
Lead researcher: Sharon Young, PhD student at the Royal College of Art, lectures at the University of Roehampton
Public Engagement: Challenging myths of empire
In an age of decolonizing research and the curriculum (at all levels) it is important to question the increasing glorification of empire in recent years. Using public engagement tools, the Australian ‘working man’s paradise’ narrative and the continuing belief that convicts transported to Australia in the nineteenth century were ‘better off’, can be challenged. Academic research (which has already been carried out) will be disseminated in an informal and engaging way, and promoted to family historians, crime history enthusiasts, as well as students and academics. This will be done through the creation of bi-monthly life-narratives of convicts who were transported to Australia and died as paupers. This will be published on a WordPress blog and will accrue no cost. To accompany those blogs, podcasts will be created, which will be funded. The podcast will extend beyond the life-narrative to engage with the social and economic aspects of the colony (Australia) and issues surrounding the criminalisation of poverty, vagrancy and stigmatisation. These issues remain today and contemporary links will be made. Individual convicts will be utilised to introduce more complex historical influences and issues, to a lay audience. This is not only about education, but also about challenging long standing myths about empire.
Lead researcher: Dr Emma Watkins, Department of Social Sciences
Phiroz Mehta: A Social History of an Indian Philosopher in South London, 1970s-1980s, and his Impact on the Development of Yoga and Meditation in Britain
This project seeks to capture and assess the philosophy and impact of Phiroz Mehta (1902-1994), an Indian spiritual teacher in 1970s-1990s Britain, whose impact remains undocumented outside of his close circle and has not been analysed in an academic context. I will conduct oral interviews with surviving members of the Phiroz Mehta Trust and community, who were his students until his death, in order to capture the social history of the community before it disappears.
I will also investigate the substantial personal library of Phiroz Mehta, currently housed and preserved in a private home in Hammersmith, London, to examine his collection and evaluate how he used Indian philosophical and Sanskrit sources in his work – paying particular attention to his dense scholarly marginalia. This strand will also entail analysis of his publications and talks in order to assess their content, context and reach. I have contacted this community in 2020 and have had a very positive response to this research proposal in principle.
The outputs will be an online social history archive (comprising interview recordings and transcripts and unpublished photos and videos), a peer-reviewed academic article, an online learning resource for religious studies academics, and a public lecture at Southlands College, University of Roehampton.
Lead researcher: Dr Karen O’Brien-Kop, Department of Humanities
2019 – 2020
Lifelong Reader: New Stories: ‘Lifelong Reading: New Stories’ investigates a new creative form of life review for older adults living with early-stage dementia. The project recognises the significance of early reading and childhood books, and explores how far such stories – and shifting memories of them – might act as a starting point for rethinking narratives of ageing identity. A children’s literature specialist (Principal Investigator), a creative writer and a book artist, will work with individuals in a care setting to co-create bespoke ‘fictional life-review books’ based on meaningful childhood stories interwoven with autobiographical fragments. These artefacts will be used by participants, their families and carers, and will represent rich data sources for understanding aspects of ageing identity via narrative and memory.
Lead researcher: Dr Alison Waller, Department of English and Creative Writing
Makerspaces: Supporting digital inclusiveness in urban communities: The purpose of this research project is to investigate the extent to which Makerspaces can assist such communities through providing access to modern digital fabrication equipment (and the training to support its use), and through the support offered by Makerspaces for nascent entrepreneurs. The project will assess the role of Makerspaces in helping disenfranchised communities: empowering individuals to be creative and to be productive.
Lead researcher: Dr Declan Scully, Business School
Dhaka – On Climate Change and Urbanisation in Bangladesh: This ongoing documentary project combines photography and video, exploring the effects of urbanization and climate change on Dhaka and Bangladesh. For this extension of the project, the researcher will extend the project beyond Dhaka to look at coastal areas that will be affected and Mongla, one of the cities targeted by Bangladesh’s Building Climate Resilient Migrant Friendly Towns strategy.
Lead researcher: Ismar Uzeirovic, Department of Media, Culture and Language
Religion and Spirituality in the therapeutic space: exploring how trainee and newly-qualified counsellors and psychotherapists, who identify as religious or spiritual, experience undertaking therapeutic training in the UK: Practitioner competence with regard to working with religion and spirituality issues in therapy is a matter of client well-being. However, research indicates that trainee counsellors/psychotherapists rarely discuss or receive input on religious or spiritual issues in training, and thus feel ill-equipped in this area. Building upon a previous small scale qualitative research study, this project will use a national survey to explore how trainee or newly qualified counsellors/psychotherapists, who identify as religious or spiritual, experience undertaking therapeutic training in the UK.
Lead researcher: Dr Jane Hunt
Narratives of masculinity: visual accounts of young men’s experience of fatherhood: This project aims to address the worrying rise of mental illness and suicide in young men aged 18 – 35 in the UK by understanding the vulnerability of men. This project innovatively examines the period when young men become fathers through a series of image-generating workshops and audio reflections, and a five to eight-minute animation, to be disseminated. The animation will visually represent new narratives that will broaden the emotional base of what it means to be a man, contributing significantly to men’s mental health and well-being.
Lead researcher: Dr Jonathan Isserow, Department of Psychology
Visioning the Future of the City Together: Group relations in urban community neighbourhood planning: The intention of this project is to explore the role of ‘vision’ and ‘visioning’ within urban neighbourhood planning processes in the wake of the turn to digital networks and social media. The project will work directly with a citizen-led community planning group that has been given authority to prepare a local land-use plan by local government. By using a psychoanalytically-underpinned consultancy approach, the intention is to directly intervene within the planning process to enable planners to better understand the different competing emotional investments that are at play in community participation and representation. The project will then serve as a working model for future consultancy work with similar groups.
Lead researcher: Dr Karen Cross, Department of Media, Culture and Language
Thinking Place – Five Philosophers’ Huts: This will be an exhibition of artworks and research material at the Oxford House Gallery in September 2019. The Thinking Place project explores the relationship between philosopher Martin Heidegger and the wooden building built for him at Todtnauberg in the Black Forest. It also examines Ludwig Wittgenstein’s hut at Skjolden (Norway), Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess’ two huts built at Tvergastein (Norway) and French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s hut built for him at Ermenonville, France. The Thinking Place project investigates the relationship between architectural space, isolated geographical location, and the production of thought.
Lead researcher: Dr Mark Riley, Department of Media, Language and Culture
Student and staff perceptions on race and racism at the University of Roehampton: Funding will support an empirical project that investigates experiences of, and perspectives on, race and racism at the University of Roehampton. The university is actively seeking to address issues of race, including by its ‘decolonise the curriculum’ programme and RAFA2 project, yet communication about and action on these issues remains difficult. This research project will address this issue by working with students and staff in the departments of Education and Social Sciences in focus groups to develop a shared understanding of the issues involved and develop grounded solutions to the problems.
Lead researcher: Dr Mark McCormack, Department of Social Sciences
2018 – 2019
Dhaka documentary: a body of work, still photographs and short films, documenting the problems faced by climate refugees in Dhaka, including disseminating these findings internationally in the form of exhibition, online presentation, and publications. Read more about this project here.
Women imams in the “present”: data collection, research and editing of the final chapter of the recipient’s book “Women as Imams”, with a very specific focus on expressions of female ritual leadership in Islam and their link to social contexts.
Free schools and the moral purpose of education: a set of four case studies evaluating the impact of Single Academy Trust free schools in socio-economically deprived and ethnically diverse communities in meeting the needs of their students, their communities and the moral purpose of education.
Exploring the effects of a musical play intervention on young children’s self-regulation: a project exploring whether introducing musical play as an intervention in schools could have beneficial effects on children’s self-regulation.
Gospel teaching and personal finance: the project incorporates the Christian gospel into the topic of personal financial plans and structure, uncovering the role that Christianity plays in the balance between personal satisfaction and financial stability.
Service Operations Management applications in churches: a comprehensive literature review to find out how operations management might be used to reflect on church activities and how such systems have been applied by faith communities.
2017 – 2018
‘Sleuth’ – the Roehampton Journal: a new magazine that reported on the activities of Southlands College, covered events across the University community and highlighted stories from the local area.
Slavery, abolition and resistance: St Patrick’s Day and 250 years of Methodism on Montserrat: archival research was used to examine the influence of Methodism on the British Overseas Territory Montserrat.
The development of Christianity in China in the past thirty years: this project tried to shed light on Christianity in China by examining the significant effect of Christianism in interacting with traditional Chinese culture, with special attention paid to Methodist churches in China.
Promoting understanding of the work of multi-professional teams in children’s centres: the role of developmental research in tackling ‘disparate discourses’: with an interventionist research method, this project developed learning opportunities for multi-professional teams in children’s centres to develop integrated care for young children.
Signs of wonder: iconography and aesthetic practices of New Black Majority Churches (nBMCs) in the London Borough of Southwark: an investigation into visual expressions, including both iconography and also other important nBMC aesthetic practices such as architecture, websites and media products.
Encounters with otherness: a talk at a symposium in May 2017 on Media, Communication, and Film Studies Programs at Liberal Arts Colleges, in Maine, USA, which led to dialogue about how University of Roehampton’s Guerrilla Filmmaking module might be of use in an American liberal arts context.
2016 – 2017
Pilot study to test novel interactions within programmes for alcohol and drug users: a field research pilot study designed to develop treatment services to improve outcomes for alcohol and drug dependents in an out-patient treatment programme.
‘Love Across the Atlantic’ conference – an interdisciplinary conference on US-UK romance’: held at University of Roehampton in June 2017. It explored the history and enduring appeal of US-UK relationships.
The contribution of policy techniques, process and ‘performativity’ in the construction of teachings with Specific Learning Difficulties as ‘subjects’ in the English Further Education sector: exploring the experience of teachers with SpLDs and the challenges they face.
Meaning in loss therapy group for complicated grief: a UK pilot study: a pilot study based on a North American protocol and laying the groundwork for state-of-the-art bereavement theory and research
Immigration, spirituality and the arts: a project connecting social justice, spirituality, ethics and the arts in relation to lived social action, specifically contemporary ethical-pastoral responses to migration.
‘The survival of the neo-liberal-est’: keeping your best-self sane at work: a project to support and sustain teachers in their work and practice in neoliberal, high-performance school cultures, providing a space where demands are not made of them.
Grants for Project Funding
Find out more about funding for projects for those within the University of Roehampton community, and download an application form.