Research Projects

The School of Social Sciences and Global Studies is a hub for disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and research-led teaching that aims to tackle some of the most pressing challenges faced by societies across the globe. As part of its response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the School has launched the Social Scientific Research in the Time of COVID-19 repository, in which dozens of articles, analyses, interviews and other interventions made by SSGS staff and postgraduate students have been gathered.

Sociology Professor Marie Gillespie has also been leading on a related initiative, COVID-19: Chronicles from the Margins which focuses on life during the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants from different parts of the world.

Other recent and ongoing research projects include:


The ‘Changemakers’ research project, led by Dr Donna Smith, explores improving young adults' understanding of making political and social change, using Wales as a case study. The project aims to develop educational resource(s) to improve understanding, engendering active citizenship. The project is funded by The Open University’s ‘Open Societal Challenges’ programme.

Care and Caregiving in Gateshead

Working in partnership with Gateshead Carers Association, this project uses interviews, focus groups, reflective tasks and policy research to examine the systemic challenges facing unpaid carers in one English locality, and to set out practical recommendations for improving health and social care outcomes for unpaid carers and the people that they care for. The project has so far produced one report and a film at a special community launch event in Gateshead for the national Carers Week, with presentations from unpaid carers.

The Future of Borders: Growth, Limits and Place

This Open Societal Challenge, led by Dr Dan Taylor in collaboration with 12 Open University colleagues across the OU nations and faculties, sets out to understand attitudes and ideas to borders and place, with the aim of contributing to local and national policymaking around borders, immigration, levelling up and place. It will build an evidence foundation for a more ambitious, nationwide funding bid with a pilot project in the Fens, eastern England. .


Re-orienting development: The dynamics and effects of Chinese infrastructure investment in Europe (REDEFINE)

REDEFINE will examine what China’s rise means for how we understand global development and, specifically, Europe’s place in it. By better understanding how investment deals operate, REDEFINE will connect Chinese and European government and corporate actors in order to influence their strategies and practices.

Decolonising Peace Education in Africa (DEPA) logo

Decolonising Education for Peace in Africa (DEPA)

An AHRC-funded project which brings together academics, NGOs, and disadvantaged communities to understand and embed local community knowledges and values (including those central to peace) in teaching materials that support those most affected by conflict.

cartoon image of Health workers holding the world The time to act together is now

Covid-19 and migrant health workers: risks and responses

Migrant workers are of substantial and growing significance in many countries’ health and social care systems. Their experiences during the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, including the impacts on them of responses to the pandemic, have not been fully appreciated. This project starts to fill these data gaps and is responding to demand by global policy actors for evidence about their experiences and impacts.

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COVID Chronicles from the Margins

A living archive of extraordinary times. The pandemic has created new problems and opportunities for migrants as explored in COVID Chronicles from the Margins where asylum-seekers, refugees, undocumented, black and minority ethnic groups represent their experiences – of deepening inequalities and striking solidarities.

The crack between the Chinese and USA flags on the concrete wall

Transformation and Challenge in the International Order (TCIO)

This network brings together academics, journalists and policymakers to offer regionally-informed reflections on the contemporary international order. TCIO aims to de-privilege Western-centric approaches to understanding and conceptualising international order. In doing so, we will offer comparative insights into the impact and likely future implications of these alternative visions on contemporary global affairs.

 Corinne Silva

Decolonising Climate Resilience: Building Resilient Communities Through Skills and Knowledge Exchange

Agnes Czajka is leading a project which brings together a broad group of researchers, community organisations, artists and cultural institutions in eight countries to explore and share traditional, indigenous, subjugated, marginalised or forgotten knowledges about local ecosystems and sustainable ways of living. It will investigate ideas about strengthening resilience to a number of challenges to livelihoods exacerbated by climate change. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Darul Aman Palace, Kabul, Afghanistan, 2007

Heritage in War

An AHRC funded project which explores the moral value of cultural heritage and how we ought to incorporate this value into our accounts of the ethics of war, and how to deal with damage to heritage in the aftermath of conflict.

young girls working

Participation Arts and Social Action in Research (PASAR)

PASAR: Participation, Arts and Social Action in Research, an ESRC funded research project that addresses the UK social science community's need to gain a better understanding of how participatory action research approaches engage marginalised groups in research as co-producers of knowledge.

Sounding Coastal Change - 24 hour Live Radio Broadcast

Sounding Coastal Change

An AHRC funded research project about social and environmental change in North Norfolk that uses sound, music and different kinds of listening to explore the ways in which the coast is changing and how people’s lives are changing with it.


Picturing Climate

Picturing Climate: Participatory Photography and Narrative Storytelling for Climate Change Education brings together artists, researchers and grassroots arts and culture organisations in Cuba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan and the UK to explore the potential of arts- and humanities-based methodologies for developing local and international educational capacity on climate change induced food and livelihoods insecurities.

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Gender, Skilled Migration and IT industry: a comparative study of India and the UK

In the UK there are low numbers of women in and entering the IT sector. In partnership with the National Association of Software and Service Companies this project has worked to address the UK’s low numbers by examining how India attracts and maintains a high representation of women in its IT sector.

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Moving MarketPlaces

A collaborative international project funded by the Humanities in the European Research Area. This project looks at street markets in 8 cities and towns in the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain, to investigate the mobilities of market traders and market places as public spaces of inclusion, innovation and diverse cultural practices.

Enduring love wordmap

Enduring Love? Couple relationships in the 21st Century

An award-winning ESRC mixed methods study that investigated how couples experience, understand and sustain their long-term relationships. Professor Jacqui Gabb is also now Chief Relationships Officer at Paired, a new app, informed by the Enduring Love? Study, designed to improve couples’ communication and deepen intimacy through daily prompts.