The primary purpose of the Children, Young People and Family Research Centre is to be able to respond to rapid changes within research culture, at regional, national and international levels, by grounding it within the wide range of theoretical, policy and methodological perspectives made available across Newman University.

The work of the Centre contributes toward the generation of a wider strategic plan aimed at promoting innovatory research activities locally, nationally and internationally. Centre staff work with community organisations, schools, children’s services, third sector organisations and public bodies, both in the UK and abroad. Evidence gained from such research directly contributes towards improving services, support change management processes and challenging dominant representations of family and community life. The work of the Centre is committed to the creation and translation of knowledge and understanding of children, young people and families. In particular, it has a vision of facilitating intellectual leadership to local, national and international academic and ‘public’ communities. It is also committed to the engagement of users including government, national organisations, the third sector and local communities by providing strategic intervention in the generation of knowledge and understanding. Hence, the main research themes include exploring emerging questions around:

  • The shifting conceptual understanding of the contested terms, children, young people and family within the context of contemporary global socio-economic and cultural change.
  • Recalibrating the relationship between social/cultural researchers and diverse social groups through the use of digital media.
  • The historicising of the issues in this field of inquiry, interrogating the complexity of contested concepts and vocabulary of children, young people and family and exploring these through substantive interests, including identity formations.
  • Shifting comparative patterns of policy making and implementation across Britain, Europe, the US and its impact on global regions.
  • The development of understandings of the diverse meanings and value systems of family and community life among social groups that will be of value to those working in the public sector and local authorities and more broadly those working towards the promotion of an equal society.
  • The role of structural inequality in access to societal resources in influencing or shaping the structure and social capital of diverse families and communities.

Main Activities and Management

The last decade has witnessed the emergence of a reconfiguring of the social sciences and humanities in response to institutional demands from third sectors and private sectors. They have requested evidence-based research that translates more effectively for use by policy-makers and practitioners. Of specific significance has been the development within institutions of higher education of inter-disciplinary research projects that enable new developments in problem-solving to address contemporary social and cultural issues.

In response, the Children, Young People and Family Research Centre:

  • Brings together the existing body of expertise within the University to form a critical mass of skills, knowledge and experience
  • Acts as a catalyst in actively promoting cross-disciplinary cutting-edge research themes and accompanying innovative methodologies
  • Strategically manages a range of research projects, building on each other
  • Provides an infrastructural capacity to respond to a new culture of external funded research
  • Builds upon working partnerships with external national and international collaborators, including a body of international associates, alongside the development of contacts with stakeholders within national and international contexts
  • Oversees and supports the whole process of externally funded research projects from the initial research proposal development, through managing the project to the dissemination of findings
  • Provides internationally recognised theoretically-led empirical work
  • Informs and influences policy at local, regional, national and international levels
  • Promotes dissemination processes (seminars, research presentations, etc) proactively as regional and national activities
  • Promotes a dialogue with children, young people and families.

The Research Centre is managed by establishing an internal board to include key members of different research teams in association with policymakers and funders. An external advisory board will also be established.


The vision outlined above is founded on a commitment to the highest standards in scholarship, research-informed empirical work, a methodologically-based collaborative perspective with diverse communities, and academic, professional and practitioner publications. It builds on current innovative research work being carried out which include:

  • A European Union funded research project involving partners in Germany and Romania looking at victims’ perceptions (women, children and young people) of the quality of support offered when they experience violence and neglect or are trafficked
  • A European Union funded research project involving partners from Poland and Romania exploring the development of early years education
  • A European Union funded research project involving partners from Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria in developing a methodology for using social documentary video as a tool for reflexively negotiating European identity
  • Partner involvement in the ‘Crossing Borders’ international research project exploring children’s play.

The Centre is committed to:

  • The consolidation of current inter-disciplinary research across the University
  • The identification and dissolution of institutional barriers to collaborative research projects will increase applications to funding bodies
  • The development of a strong academic identity embedded within the Research Centre
  • The development of a significant body of inter-disciplinary blue-chip research proposals with regard to ESRC’s and AHRC’s strategic priorities
  • Building the reputation of the Centre as a world class research institute in the areas of children, young people and families with a key role in influencing policy and academic agendas
  • Developing a knowledge transfer and CPD programme around children, young people and families
  • Exploring the potential for innovative teaching programmes
  • A critical mass of national and international research students researching topics in the areas of children, young people and families
  • Annual collaborative international symposia
  • Addressing priorities for the next REF through the development of strategic writing plans bringing together established and early/second career academics
  • A series of jointly published articles and books.

Composition and Membership

Membership of the Research Centre is open to all members of staff. We welcome contributions from groups and individuals across ‘Schools’ and ‘Subject Areas’.

There is an ongoing commitment to work in an interdisciplinary way and to encourage wider involvement in the future development of the Centre.

Dr Peter Harris
Telephone: 0121 476 1181 Ext. 2517
Email: p.harris@staff.newman.ac.uk

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