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Personal profile


I am a Snr Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and following a 23-year career in Community Education, I have been a full-time HE lecturer in Community Education since 2003. My practice has focussed on transformational Community and Youth Work, Community Regeneration and Health Improvement and this has continued in my academic career. At my previous institution, I was Convenor of the Faculty of Education Teaching and Learning Quality Improvement Committee (TALQIC), and a member of the Faculty of Sport and Health Ethics Committee and Faculty of Education, Academic Committee.

Since coming to UWS in 2012, I have taken Programme Leader roles in the BA (Hons) in Community Education and in the MSc in Critical Youth and Community Studies. I have also been Vice-Chair of the School of Education Ethics Committee, and was a member of the University Assessment Committee and the communication and engagement group, in regard to Lanarkshire Campus Development. I was also involved in a Recruitment, Admissions and Conversion (RAC) working group that sought to enhance student transitions from application to alumnus. Outside of the Academy, I have been involved in the Policy Forum at YouthLink Scotland and at UK level, as a member of the benchmarking and review groups for the Subject Benchmark Statement for Youth and Community Work (QAA, 2017).

Area of academic expertise - outline

My research expertise is located in community education, equality studies and positive psychology. My PhD examined how young people learn about equality in youth work and for my Masters in Advanced Professional Studies I examined young women’s participation in physical fitness activity. My expertise is grounded in my experience and understanding of educational community and youth work practice and wider engagement in community regeneration, youth policy and health improvement. I am committed to undertaking funded and non-funded research that furthers the cause of equality and social justice through on-going analysis of power and its impacts on communities. My starting point for research is salutogenic in valuing people as resources or assets within communities, which is in distinct from a pathogenic discourse of blame that labels people as problematic and marginal to the rest of society.

Advocating for social change in order to achieve a fairer world, my published research outputs examine the processes of community and youth work practice, health improvement and equality work. This has included longitudinal impact studies on grassroots support for vulnerable families and the experiences of independent care-givers (with David Wallace) and the negotiated nature of relationships and boundaries in youth work, and community processes of social change (with Sinead Gormally).

Current research activities

My current research interests are informed by my areas of expertise and are framed in transformative methodologies that examine how critical, social and psychological perspectives contribute to knowledge and understanding of communities. Drawing on qualitative, case study and ethnographic methodologies, I am currently engaged in three specific research areas: the importance of relationships in youth work; the impact of Brexit on Scottish youth work processes and workforce; the extent to which Community Education student’s experiences of study in HE contributes to emancipatory practice.

Desired research direction

While I have a track record in securing funding for small-scale research in my areas of research expertise and interest, I am keen to collaborate with local and international partners who share similar interests, in order to secure a larger grant for more in-depth research.

The Brexit question could take a number of turns that it would be useful and interesting to pursue within a salutogenic frame for equality and social justice!

I have been engaging in an alternative supervision methods with a small group of PhD students and would like to research the pros and cons of a ‘walking pedagogy’ in PhD supervision.

Target collaborative organisations

The Carnegie Trust for Universities of Scotland

YouthLink Scotland



Other areas of expertise available for knowledge exchange

In addition to KE activity in topics within the area of equality and social justice, I am also an accomplished trainer in areas of Community Empowerment, Leadership, Reflective Practice, Positivity/Positive Psychology, Resilient Communties, Community Based and Participatory Research Methods, Community Evaluation, Engagment and Cohesion.


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