Disruptive conversations about what it means to be human

2023-24 Events

Re-watch our seminars 

9 November 2020

Lost Wor(l)ds - encouraging schools to support learners’ linguistic identities - Sabine Little

The role of sleep in children's cognitive development and well-being - Anna Weighall 

Menstrual Activism and the Media: Reducing Stigma and Tackling Period Poverty - Maria Tomlinson 

Watch seminar here

25 November 2020

Thinking with disability in a Post-Trump era - Dan Goodley

Which remnants of Trumpism still exist in the world and 'who’s allowed to be human?' 

Watch seminar here 7 December 2020

'It’s harder for the likes of us': Minority ethnicity stem cell donation as ethico-ethnic imperative - Ros Williams

New ways of making medicines? Lessons from the pandemic - Paul Martin

Patient group involvement in the development of new drugs for rare diseases - Sarah Gibson

Watch seminar here

Past events

Amsterdam flag
Wednesday 24 July 2024, 12:12 pm
Schipluidenlaan 4, 1062 HE Amsterdam, Netherlands

Participatory Research Network
Can Participatory Action Research be deployed in educational research in the Global North? 
Wednesday 31st January 2024, 5.00-6.00pm, Bartolome House, University of Sheffield. 

This will be a hybrid presentation by Dr Deanne Bell, PhD. CPsychol. AFBPsS. SFHEA. Associate Professor of Critical Psychology and Decolonial Studies Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University. In this presentation Dr Bell will describe fundamentals of Critical Participatory Action Research, reasons for its creation and ethics of participatory research praxes. A decolonial turn toward engaging in research with historically marginalised community members will also be discussed. Distinctions will be made between Critical Participatory Action Research and westernised modes of Action Research in an effort to address the question, can academics in the global north engage in participatory action research? To learn more and book your ticket, please see here.

Older events


Reflections from a Cyborg: Telepresence teaching in Higher Education

1st November 2023, 15.00 - 16.30 GMT

Sophie Savage, Associate Lecturer in Sociology, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), with Dr Tillie Curran, Visiting Fellow, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol): Presenters will be presenting via telepresence robots

This presentation shares my experience of piloting the use of a telepresence robot as a reasonable adjustment for teaching in higher education during the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. I taught from home using the robot to facilitate interactive social science seminars. I will be focusing on realising the impact of meaningful inclusion, the development of relationships with students and colleagues within learning spaces and how a sense of self and value is challenged and defined in this context. I draw on post-human discourse adopting the viewpoint of the cyborg. Where technology is used as an extension of the self, the cyborg narrative challenges dominant discourses of technology that are framed as ‘assistive’. Therefore, centring my experience as a disabled person, is key in understanding ‘virtual embodiment’ and the impact upon my identity during a time which is hailed as ‘post-COVID’. We reflect on the institutional barriers encountered and propose strategies for wide-scale rollout of telepresence as a reasonable adjustment for all. I have dreamed of fleets of telepresence robots being available at all public spaces, and the cost of not supporting this cyborg dream is not a financial one but an ethical and human one. Investment in supporting disabled people’s right to work, and right to a full life can be a practical demonstration of ethical rigour and aligns with the shared missions of equality and diversity present across all higher education institutions.

iHuman at the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences

November 2023 

ESRC Festival of Social Sciences event: Animating Inclusion - Friday 17th November 2023, 15.30-17.30, Theatre Deli, Sheffield

Filmmakers use sound to build suspense for their audiences, but are Deaf people getting an equal experience to hearing people when they watch a film? Consider this and other questions about how film and TV can be made more accessible for Deaf people at the launch of the new animated short film, “Animating Inclusion".

The film explores how well sound is translated into the captions Deaf audiences read when they watch a film. You will have the opportunity to meet the researchers and producers who created this animation. 

This is a BSL interpreted event. Registered BSL interpreters, Kat Pearson and Tom Pearson, will be present during the event.

The film will be available to watch on the Player after the event. Led by Dr Ryan Bramley and Dr Kirsty Liddiard, University of Sheffield

Being Autistic and Considering Diagnostic Assessment
details of your event: Council Room, Firth Hall, Saturday 11th November, 12-1pm

Join Sarah Chierico, Helen Jones, Nyssa Koring and Dr Harriet Cameron at this film screening and panel discussion in Firth Court looking at adults’ experiences of autism diagnosis. Informed by interviews and focus groups from the team's research project, this animated film talks about diagnosis as something to celebrate but also as a bittersweet experience, reflecting on the difficulties in accessing assessment and existing in a world 'not built for you'.

Led by Dr Harriet Cameron, University of Sheffield and Dr Luke Beardon, Sheffield Hallam University (funded by The British Academy and The Leverhulme Trust).

Critical Disability Studies Seminar (in person)
Care as a possible foundation for scientific knowledge production: a feminist disability studies approach from Latin America
CONSTANZA ANGÉLICA LÓPEZ RADRIGÁN, Millennium Institute for Care Research MICARE, University of Valparaíso, Chile
Organised by iHuman and Identity and Marginalisation Cluster, School of Education

28th June 2023

The purpose of this presentation is to reflect on care as a possible foundation in scientific knowledge production proceses, from the experiences of researchers linked to feminist disability studies in Latin America. It is based on my Phd research, a qualitative study which aims to articulate a feminist approach to disability using a grounded theory constructivist inquiry strategy and interviews with thirty-six Latin American researchers, six European referenced researchers and nineteen Latin American activists. Along this journey three professors and I have written articles and this presentation will address its findings. First I’ll present how feminist disability studies are related to local and global feminist theories and practices. Then we’ll engage with researchers’ interactions and strategies aimed to build communities of care and counteract institutional logics of academic contexts that condition the ways of building knowledge and connecting with communities and activists. We’ll also briefly address how some academics position themselves in an area underpinned by the relevance of the life experience of disability. Finally, we’ll share some reflections on the link between knowledge production and the communities with which alliances are established and we’ll propose a model of thinking about care as an ethic aimed at reconfiguring the relationships between researchers and participants in scientific studies.

iHuman Annual Critical Disability Studies Lecture
Dr Ben Whitburn, University of Southampton
(EDI)fying reforms in institutional accountability

11th July 2023

University of Southampton

Universities in the global north (UK and elsewhere) are awash with strategic accountabilities to increased recognition of diversity, evidence of inclusion, and equality of opportunity. Through equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives, actionable objectives are set by faculties aimed at strengthening inclusion for staff and students alike (Advance HE, 2020). While as disability researchers we might exult in the institutionalisation of liability in this way, addressing ableism in the pursuit of inclusive ways of being and knowing is no small undertaking. An appeal to, for instance, meaningless disability awareness training can be easily understood as a suitable response in the name of upholding equal human rights (Whitburn & Corcoran, 2021), while priority is given to chasing gold stars of recognition from an increasingly significant cadre of philanthropic organisations for the very clear and obvious benefits they can bestow. As much a personal reflection on my experiences with EDI activities as a recent arrival to the UK, and a theoretical discussion resourced with ideas about matters of concern (Latour, 2004) and relational ethics in the posthuman condition (Braidotti, 2021), in this paper I deliberate disability, difference  and institutional inclusion. In doing so I want to draw our collective attention towards what and how prioritisation comes about, while considering by what means—and when we might know that—our efforts to confront ableism within institutions are achieved. 

Advance Higher Education (HE). (2020). The importance of EDI in higher education. Accessed 19 november 2022 at

Braidotti, R. (2019). Posthuman knowledge (Vol. 2). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Latour, B. (2004). Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Critical inquiry, 30(2), 225-248.

Whitburn, B., & Corcoran, T. (2021). Diversity training, inclusive education and our inevitable lament. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 21, 17-24.

Prof. Felicity Callard is Professor in Human Geography at the University of Glasgow and Editor-in-Chief of History of the Human Sciences.

"My presentation takes up the current preoccupation with ‘research culture’ to think about the relationship between epistemic cultures and labour relations. It does so by considering the specific example of the ‘replication crisis’ in psychology. Discussions of the replication crisis in psychology require, I argue, more substantive analysis of the crisis of academic labour and of social reproduction in the university, not least because both the replication crisis and the crisis of social reproduction in the university describe a failure in the processes of reproducing something. That the financial crisis of 2007–8 shortly preceded the emergence of the replication crisis, as well as exacerbated ongoing tendencies in the organisation and practices of university research (particularly the use of precarious contracts and the adjunctification of research), indicates the importance of addressing these two crises together. Many analyses of and responses to the replication crisis turn to research culture, often at the expense of adequate investigations of research labour. Today’s psychological sciences are made through multiple forms of labour: these include researchers, who range from senior principal investigators to sub-contracted, and exploited, research assistants working; research participants/subjects, who include those providing labour for experiments via exploitative platforms including Amazon’s Mechanical Turk; and workers providing heterogeneous technical and administrative labour. Through considering these multiple forms of labour, discussions of psychology, specifically, and of ‘research cultures’, more broadly, might better analyse the problems besetting them today, as well as develop different imaginaries for how to address them".

May 2023 - Critical Disability Studies, iHuman/School of Education in Iceland!

Members of the Critical Disability Studies team reflected on their research and scholarship at the Nordic Network for Disability Research Conference in Iceland. A flyer introducing our work with links to project websites can be found here

26th April 2023
Challenges of Co-Production

Workshop on Co-Pro run by Lauren White, Dan Goodley and the TAS project team from the University of York, followed by Keynote from Professor Van Hove

29th March 2023
Hybrid Event: Navigating Ethical Landscapes
Organised by the Identity and Marginalised Communities Research Cluster and iHuman

This symposium provided a space to find out more about different approaches to ethics e.g. NHS ethics, co-production and participatory ethics, decolonial ethics, dynamic ethics, affective ethics, and feminist ethics, and how these were applied in a range of research projects. 

18th January 2023
Organised by Identity and Marginalisation Research Cluster, School of Education and iHuman
Associate Professor Dr Mónica Peña
Directora Magíster Psicología - Mención Psicología Social
Facultad de Psicología
Universidad Diego Portales
Schools as communities of care in neoliberal times: A decolonial analysis

In this seminar, Mónica utitlised a decolonial perspective on care to critically explore how schools, that receive a state subsidy for educational inclusion work, work with children with disabilities in Chile. Mónica primarily used Latin American authors in this analysis.  

17th January 2023
Replication and reproduction: crises in science and in academic labour 
Professor Felicity Callard, University of Glasgow 
Venue - Lecture Theatre 2, The Diamond, 32 Leavygreave Road, Sheffield S3 7RD.
A hybrid event presented by
 iHuman and Metanet

iHuman and Metanet welcomed Professor Felicity Callard (University of Glasgow) to discuss the links between research culture and research quality, with a focus on the case of psychology's replication crisis.


1st December 2022 
In person Workshop

Organised by Identity and Marginalisation Research Cluster, School of Education and iHuman

Workshop to respond to the Research for Social Care Call which now includes children and young people with introduction from the Research Design Service.This is a joint event to bring together researchers from the Health and Care Research Unit in ScHARR, the School of Education, iHuman, the Centre for Care and the Health Sciences School, to think about how we can respond to future calls from the National Institute for Health Research, Research for Social Care funding stream, which now include services for children and young people.

2nd December 2022
Hybrid Writing Retreat for PGR students (Education and iHuman) 

In person 
Organised by Identity and Marginalisation Research Cluster, School of Education and iHuman

Hybrid writing retreats will be offered monthly for all doctoral students based on the School of Education (PhDs, EdDs and Ed.Psychs) and for iHuman PGR members. Besides providing a dedicated, structured time for writing, with writing being understood in broader terms here e.g. taking notes, annotations, section writing etc., these writing retreats aim to the establishment of communities of practice and to contribute to a sense of belonging. 

15th December 2022
13.00-14:00 GMT

The Digital Society Network and iHuman are proud to present a research masterclass by Dr Aleesha Rodriguez (Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child),

In this masterclass, Aleesha describes their methodology using digital methods to conduct a controversy analysis of Tesla’s (big) battery in Australia. Tesla’s (big) battery is an imagined and speculative technology that first materialised discursively on social media and later materialised into a physical battery known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve, in 2017. Tesla’s (big) battery became the “stuff of politics” in Australia (Braun & Whatmore, 2010) after a wager on Twitter between two billionaire tech entrepreneurs, namely Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Australian co-CEO of Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes. Tesla’s (big) battery was introduced on Twitter as, at the time, the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery that would “solve” an ongoing power crisis in the state of South Australia. The acute events experienced as part of South Australia’s power crisis were broadly considered highly controversial, as they engendered widespread media coverage and high-level accusations regarding the causes and resolutions of the crisis. However, these events also constituted a controversy in a more specific sense. Controversies in Science and Technology Studies (STS), are events that generate uncertainty, destabilise established practices and norms, and energise public deliberation wherein new relations and normative imaginaries form. To explore this controversy, Aleesha conducted a controversy analysis of Tesla’s (big) battery by mapping the key events, actors, and issues pertaining to this (big) battery, on two social media platforms, namely Twitter, the site of the (big) battery’s conception, and Whirlpool, an Australian technology forum in which users engaged in focused discussions about this (big) battery and longer-term debates about South Australia’s power crisis. In this masterclass, Aleesha will explain how they conducted a controversy analysis on Tesla’s (big) battery using digital methods and specifically, how they drew on actor-network theory (ANT)—both conceptually and empirically—to argue that Tesla’s (big) battery shaped energy futures both in Australia and globally.

Dr. Aleesha Rodriguez is an experienced researcher in the fields of digital media communication and Science and Technology Studies (STS). They are a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child, researching public imaginaries of future digital media technologies. Aleesha completed their PhD at the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and their broad research agenda examines public communication on digital platforms, such as TikTok and Reddit, to explore the ways in which people and technology, mutually and dynamically, shape each other. Aleesha’s research has been published in the International Journal of Communication, Social Media + Society, and Media and Communication. The Literacies and Language Research Cluster at The University of Sheffield is delighted to be hosting Aleesha as a Visiting Scholar in Winter 2022.

9th November 2022
Open Forum
Making Disability Matters

Patty Douglas, Brandon Martha Ward, Sure intern
Penny Fogg, SoE
Katherine Runswick-Cole, Soe 
Sara Ryan, Chris Hatton, Sue Caton,MMU
Antonios Ktenidis, Kirsty Liddiard, Martina Smith TUOS
Making Disability Matter brings together researchers from across three institutions ot explore key theoretical and political questions facing disabled families.

2nd November 2022
STEMiS & iHuman Seminar

Reactivating Elements. Chemistry, Ecology, Practice
Maria Puig de la Bellacasa (1) & Dimitris Papadopoulous (2) 

Reader at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick Professor of Science, Technology and Society, University of Nottingham

Two keynote speakers brought harm (and harmony) within and beyond humans to our attention. Dr Hannah Dickinson presented her keynote ‘Oceans of Harm, Oceans of Health’, which critically explored the meaning of one health, the use of shrimps as ‘hopeful’ biomaterials, and concluding by reminding us of our proximity, care and interconnectedness with the ocean and blue health. Dr Catherine Oliver followed our more-than-human call in her keynote ‘Harm and Harmony in the More-than-Human City’, highlighting community gardens, caring for chickens and the importance of these therapeutic landscapes in urban life. While Catherine reminded us that social harms were never far from reach in her ethnographic descriptions of the harms of housing in London, the spaces of community centred around, and caring for, chickens once again revitalised the care and connectedness of more-than-human societies. The final keynote was given by Professor Simon Pemberton who has contributed extensively to international debates about the ‘social harm perspective’, exemplified in his book, Harmful Societies (2017). Simon’s work considers the need for the Social Sciences to move away from ideas of serious violence and homicide as key measures of harm to include a range of other forms of violence and human damage, for instance social systems, capitalism, austerity, health and environmental harms. Our conference themes and collective conversation offered a timely reminder that within discussions of social harm(s) are points of hopefulness, activism, social change, interconnectedness and community. Our hope is that early career researchers leading these conversations and provocations of change, continue to critically explore and develop these academic and societal contributions in our more-than-human societies.

Elements oscillate between substance and semiosis, scientific and poetic, natural and manufactured, actual and ancient, indivisible and relational. Reactivating Elements draws the nonlinear historical significance of elemental thought—from chemistry, the biosciences, engineering and physics to social analysis, elementary theory, ecopoetics and cultural studies—into contemporary practice, while inviting new provocations about these ever present and simultaneously elusive phenomena. By drawing inspiration from a range of interconnecting discourses, in particular political ecology, environmental humanities, more-than-human geography, and media studies we explore multiple registers of the elements with tools provided within critical, cultural and feminist science and technology studies (STS). From this perspective, to call in the elements is to shape what comes to matter in technoscience: it is to shift attention to the techniques, processes, affects, and intensities that mix the soils, airs, waters, and fires up with organic and synthetic chemicals; and attend to their bodily potentials, relations, toxicities, and harms.

12:00-13:00, 2nd November.
Before giving their seminar, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa and Dimitris Papadopoulous gave a masterclass with space to talk about their new book, recently published with Duke University Press

This masterclass was intended to be a small group (10 max) who can talk about both the contents of the book (of relevance to those with an interest in Science and Technology Studies, social theory, ethnography, and I'm sure a few others besides) and also the publishing process. 

17th June 2022
Marginalised humans seminar

Eve Haque, York University, Canada

Memorializing Aqsa Parvez: Public Feelings and Secular Multiculturalism

In late 2007, Aqsa Parvez, a 16 year old Canadian high school student in the suburban region of Mississauga of the Greater Toronto Area, was murdered by her brother Waqas and her father Mohammed. At a time when anti Muslim racism and Islamophobic violence continue at unprecendented levels domestically and internationally, ‘honour killings’ (as Aqsa’s murder was named in the media) remain proof of Muslim barbarity and therefore explanatory rationales for the demonization of entire groups of people and also serve as the limit case of tolerance in both the overtly Islamophobic as well as liberal discourses about Muslims and Islam in multicultural Canada. Interestingly, the demonization of Muslims and the integrative promise of Canadian white settler tolerance and benevolence come together approximately 120 kilometers south of Toronto in the rural town of Pelham (population 17,000) in the bucolic Niagara region of Ontario. 
This paper will explore how multiculturalism and secularism were mobilized in a commemorative project to erect a memorial bench to Aqsa in the small southern Ontario town of Pelham located approximately 120 km from where Aqsa lived and died. In the pursuit and execution of this project, Aqsa as a young Muslim victim of an ‘honour killing’ was the limit case of white settler multiculturalism which prompted an outpouring of public feeling in the search for an appropriate memorial across a range of sites from domestic to international. I want to argue that as this commemorative project unfolded, gendered Islamophobia became entangled with secularized multiculturalism in a redemptive mission of integration to affirm white settler national feelings of tolerance and benevolence. I want to conclude with a few thoughts from my visit to the memorial site and the ethical challenge of writing about memorialization projects. 

13 - 14th July 2022, University of Sheffield
Lauren White, Rowland Atkinson, Jamie Coates, Dan Goodley, Louise Kay and Kirsty Liddiard

The conference theme of ‘Harmful Societies’ gave rise to a diverse range of topics ranging from shrimps and social workers, to teachers and therapeutic chicken gardens. Twenty five early career academics from across the Faculty of Social Sciences gathered to showcase innovative and exciting research, promoting dialogue across disciplines as a means of generating new ideas and agendas about non-human and more-than-human perspectives. Many unexpected connections and alliances are forged today; not least around diverse forms of activism that emerge across planetary, human and spiritual locations (Braidotti, 2022). Through the creation of interdisciplinary spaces, researchers are pulled into unfamiliar conceptual and methodological spaces. As we try to connect with more familiar and trusted ideas, this creates tensions that require dialogue and resolution. These frictions constitute new and transdisciplinary theorisations. Transdisciplinarity is created when we come together and work as a community to create new concepts and languages. Conference speakers were invited to consider questions of theory as a way of helping us to understand wider causes of harm. We asked who is involved when we talk about harm and how forms of violence, victimisation or human/ecological damage are articulated. A key concern was not only to examine social questions and problems but to nest these issues within wider ecological dimensions that are interconnected with a range of other social harms and conditions. These issues were grouped into a series of thematic sessions: Education and Harm, Space, Place and Architectures of Harm, Social Care, Support and Questions of Harm, and Politics, Ideas and (Mis)information.

Education and Harm
In the first presentation Philip Draper argued that education causes harm to citizens through the construction of the educational attainment gap which further marginalises the already disadvantaged. He highlighted how this ‘stores up trouble’ for the future of individuals and exacerbates existing inequalities. Second, Charlotte Ashworth explored the relationships of trust within social work with a focus on the pandemic. In the final presentation, Hinna Abid illuminated the challenges faced by mature male students in Higher Education and how underlying and abstract forms of disadvantage may inflict harm at both a personal and societal level. 

Space, Place and Architectures of Harm
Our second session covered some diverse territory. Rajwant Saghera discussed creating safe spaces for trans students in Colombian schools using Foucault’s insights on the idea of counter-spaces (heterotopia). This was followed by Glyn Robbins' analysis of the gains made and challenges of the housing movements in New York city, raising the question of how savvy organisation might be used to face down some of the harms generated by a lack of housing in other cities. Finally Rowland Atkinson discussed the relationship between cities and the production of systems of ideas that deny or justify the existence of inequalities using the example of the super-rich and their homes in London. 

Social Care, Support and Questions of Harm
In this session, Ankita Mishra critically explored the lives and experiences of women in India, drawing attention to the exacerbation of violence that a global pandemic brings. In the second talk, Nick Burke examined the role of social work in promoting relationships and autonomy in post-adoption support. Demarcating the relationships between crisis, deprivation and child removal, Nick asked critical questions of closed adoption and its prevalence in England and Wales. 

Politics, Ideas and (Mis)information
In the final panel, Louise Kay highlighted the complexities of ‘school readiness’ as a transitional concept and the reductionist nature of using the Good Level of Development (GLD) as a measure of ‘school readiness’ for young children. Richard Williams offered a philosophical contribution into the role of democratic regulation. Finally, Ahmed Alnuhayt presented the harms attributed by the misinformation of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting questions into the role of communications and social networks when considering our health.  


8th July, 2021
Psychology Seminar

in collaboration with Critical Psychology and Education Cluster, School of Education
Chair: Professor Katherine Runswick-Cole

Dr Meesha Warmington (Education) 
The Nature of Executive Control Processes in Bilingual Children: Cross-Cultural Perspectives
Behavioural and neuropsychological indicators suggest that executive control is a broad construct, comprising a set of correlated but broadly separable processes involving attention, cognitive flexibility and working memory (including memory updating) (Miyake & Friedman, 2012). These models are typically modelled with English monolingual young adults, whose cognitive skills are at peak efficiency, living in Western countries. But more than half of the world’s population is bi/multilingual, raising the question as to why our approach to understanding the nature of executive processes relies on a population which is not representative of the global norm. The last few decades have witnessed interest in the cognitive profiles of bilinguals, with studies focused on monolingual-bilingual comparisons often demonstrating a bilingual advantage (Warmington et al., 2019; however, see Gathercole et al., 2014). Consequently, there remains little understanding regarding the extent to which cognitive skills are organised and interrelated in bi/multilinguals. In my previous work with bilingual adults I found that attention and inhibition correlated weakly, and that inhibitory processes were moderately related to working memory, while attention correlated weakly with working memory. These patterns imply some commonality and diversity across executive mechanisms. Although this has shed light on the nature and organisation of executive skills in bilinguals this was nevertheless done on a small scale. A vital concern is to replicate these patterns on a larger scale in bilingual children. This talk examines whether executive processes are organised differently in bilinguals and monolinguals.

Dr Tony Williams (Education) - What is psychology
In this talk I reflect on the question of what is psychology?

A way of thinking?

A way of talking?

A set of theories and frameworks through which to know oneself and others?

Where and when does our conversation with psychology begin?

From the starting point of Althusser's theory of interpellation and touching briefly on Winnicott, Lacan, Laplance and Fanon I wish to briefly explore from a broadly developmental perspective, the promise of psychology as a relationship and as a discourse that points in many directions.

14th June 2021
Masculinity, violence, and young people’s worlds

Chair: Carolyn Leary
Overall description
The latest in the series of seminars co-organised by the iHuman research centre, the School of Education, and CRESST focuses on masculine and non-binary identities, violence, and young people’s worlds.  It explores, from different theoretical and practice-based perspectives, how gender identities and conflict intersect - how expectations of gender give shape to conflict and ways of addressing it, and how conflict can emerge from different understandings of what gender is and how it plays out.  The talks reflect research in a wide variety of contexts - including the UK, Canada, Fiji, Indonesia, and online games - with a common thread of how gender identities are understood from within, interpreted from outside, and, in consequence, how conflict might arise and be addressed.  The session will be of interest to researchers and practitioners alike, and will include a substantial section for open discussion.

David Duriesmith (University of Sheffield, Department of Politics)
The pathologisation of youth masculinities: Social norm change after violence in Fiji and Aceh
Over the past six years there has been a growth of effort to shift men’s relationship with gender in sites of conflict. These initiatives aim to address a variety of issues including gender-based violence, violent extremism, conflict resolution and sexual health. Though these initiatives are diverse, they tend to focus on changing the attitudes, behaviours and identities of young marginalised men who are seen as being ‘at risk.’ At the same time, these initiatives often rely on older men as potential role models or advocates for change. This presentation will explore these trends from a critical masculinities framework, suggesting that programming has unwittingly pathologized youth masculinities at the same time framing older men as natural authorities. Reflecting on fieldwork in Fiji, Aceh and a set of international expert interviews, the presentation will suggest that existing social norm change programming risks stabilizing inequality rather than positive change. 

Aneesh Barai (University of Sheffield, School of Education)
Non-Binary Representation and Avatars in Popular Game Franchises: Pokémon, Minecraft and Animal Crossing
Computer games typically offer limited options for self-representation for non-binary players. In some cases, avatars are pre-designed and unchangeable, and most games that do offer avatar customisation begin with a choice between a ‘male’ or ‘female’ base shape. Such binary options induce non-binary people who want to play into choosing against their own identity, a form of psychological violence that pushes them to self-efface. In this presentation, I will review the existing literature on gender and avatars to set out principles for effective gender inclusion in videogame design. I will then chart the history and analyse in detail the positive potential for non-binary gender expression in three major game franchises of recent years: Pokémon, Minecraft and Animal Crossing. The most recent Stonewall School Report (2017) indicated that 57% of non-binary schoolchildren experience bullying, and an alarming 9 in 10 non-binary pupils have considered suicide, an indication of the hostility of their environment to their very existence, exacerbated by wider social and political disavowal of non-binary lives. On May 22nd 2021, the UK Government firmly rejected a petition calling for legal recognition of non-binary identities, emphasising that there is “no provision” for people who do not identify within the binary. In this context, these games take a positive step in welcoming and including non-binary representation among their options, and opening up virtual spaces where non-binary people can create their own meaningful self-representations.

Tim Archer (University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education)
Engaging Young Men in and Through Peace Pedagogies
Violence is disproportionately perpetuated by men with claims that constructions of masculinity are a direct contributing factor. In contexts such as the UK and North America a variety of violence prevention and peace programmes therefore aim to prevent and transform these behaviours and ascribed forms of masculinity with different levels and audiences within society. A majority of such programmes often directly target young men through educational interventions. Evaluations of these interventions, however, show mixed results in effectiveness at engaging and changing the young men they aim to reach. My experiences as an educator similarly attested to how many young men appear disinterested in the programmes and pedagogies designed for them.  As I explored why such programmes struggled to garner their engagement several key themes around language and attitudes emerged. This presentation aims to briefly introduce some of these themes and relate them to what it might mean for how we as educators engage and work with young men in capacities of peace and violence prevention.

Dr Katherine Easton (Education),  Designing and developing digital mental health through co-production methods
Kat’s research interests lie in addressing health inequalities for vulnerable groups, particularly those with mental health needs, the elderly and individuals with long-term conditions, with a focus on the psychosocial barriers and benefits of innovative digital technologies. She specialises in facilitating and developing collaborations with industrial partners and research into the co-design, user testing, realistically evaluation and implementation of technology-supported health and social care services. In this short session Kat will present her research into the area of mental health and technology, using examples from the past decade to illustrate how essential it is to develop research ideas from the ground-up to ensure all stakeholders perspectives are included in digital mental health products and services and requirements for a generosity of engagement that these concerns provoke.

10th May 2021
Young people’s experience of online conflict

Chair: Tim Herrick

Overall description
This session brings together theorists and practitioners working with young people, in the area of conflict online.  Through a mixture of data- and theory-led analysis of online conflict and a practice-based understanding of young people’s experiences, the seminar offers participants a range of ways of framing and responding to conflicts lived through by young people online, an exploration of what positive, supportive responses might look like, and how all of this might impact on the practices of organisations working with young people.  There will also be opportunities for participants to share their own perspectives, experiences, and suggestions for alternative understandings.

Carolyn Leary (programme director, CRESST)
I will describe several projects with young people that illustrate their perspectives on conflict. At one secondary school, the young people emphasised that the fluidity of their online and offline lives means they didn’t identify conflict online as a separate challenge to their daily lives. At another, the young people identified misinterpretation as a key factor and suggested constructive ways for making comments clearer. This is captured in a booklet produced with the young people, ‘Antisocial media’, which has been used by the school to support all pupils.  The overall concern of CRESST is how to equip young people with understanding about their online activity, and encourage their resilience to handle conflict well.

Josiah Lenton (Education)

This presents results from my MA research project, “Identifying and Navigating Conflict in Video-Games”. Discussions of video-games tend to centre on the topic of portrayals of violence - however, this overlooks a more nuanced discussion of ‘conflict’ in general. Using case-study data from the Children, Technology and Play project, I considered social interactions on the topic of video-games, identified examples of conflict scenarios that arose, and how these conflicts were resolved or managed by their participants. Further, I drew on actor-network theory to expand our understanding of ‘social actor’ in this context. This generated novel suggestions on how we might expand our understanding of ‘conflict’ in the context of video-games.

Claire Mead (Programme Manager, National Videogame Museum)
This talk will set out a practice-based view of conflict in videogames, exploring popular views on the ways conflict plays out by drawing upon past and present curatorial and learning projects from the National Videogame Museum. It will focus on Animal Crossing Diaries, the museum's ongoing collecting project relating to experiences of Animal Crossing: New Horizons related to the pandemic during the past year. The talk will aim to shape a broader understanding around the way games are played and experienced by a range of different players and how we can use these games to further challenge assumptions and encourage inclusive practices in museums and heritage.

Thursday 22nd April  2021  

in collaboration with Critical Psychology and Education Cluster, School of Education
Chair: Dr Lauren Powell

Dr Claire-Marie Whiting, Genuine Partnerships
Genuine Partnerships is a Rotherham-based team made up of practitioners, parent carers and young people modelling and promoting co-production. Each team member is considered equal, so the term professional is either not needed or applies to everybody. Based on narrative research with children with SEND and their families, the team co-created the Four Cornerstones (Rotherham Charter) and went on to co-design packages of support, training and tools to help schools, Education, Health and Care services, as well as whole areas, genuinely involve parent carers, children and young people in decision-making that affects them at all levels. 

Dr Penny Fogg (Education), ‘Wrong way’
‘Wrong way’ is a short audio play which examines the complex interacting forces which operate in the territory of School Exclusion. The play was written, performed and produced by a group of young people who have experienced school exclusion. Technical and artistic advice was provided by a sound engineer and a theatre producer, organizational support and encouragement was provided by staff in Sheffield Inclusion Centre and myself, a University based researcher . The play, as you will hear, is an artistic production. and in this respect speaks for itself. However, within the story you will hear the voices of schools, teachers, parents and young people as they speak to the difficulties and dilemmas which confront them . As events unfold implications become clear. There is indeed a ‘Wrong Way’ to cope with disruption and disorganisation, emotional pain and loss, conflict and disappointment. Change is desperately needed in the systems around children and young people but the situation is complicated. As the play shows, everything connects, around us and within us, and a focus on individuals and what they could, or should do, does not take us very far towards understanding or helping. 

Dr Lauren Powell (Education), The use of co-design to engage young people with ADHD in research
This talk will focus upon the inclusion of young people with ADHD in research generally and how co-design can be used to engage this population. There will then be a shift in focus to discuss how co-design can still be adopted to engage this population in research online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Cathy Nutbrown (Education), Co-producing family literacy work in prisons.
In this short presentation I will briefly outline a co-designed and co-produced project to develop family literacy work with imprisoned fathers. I will focus on how the work was co-produced with a prison support charity and the imprisoned fathers. I'll also talk about how this work led to high impact and embeddedness, across many UK prisons. 

19th April 2021
Knowing humans
Chair: Dr. Ros Williams 

1. August Lindemer (Sociological Studies/Grantham Institute)
"Planetary Health, Planetary Pathology: Climate Change and the Medical Professions”
The human health implications of a changing climate have concerned public health experts for more than thirty years. Over the last decade, these concerns have extended to the applied medical professions. For most of this process, the accompanying discourses were those of public, global, or human health. In recent years however, the discussion shifted to that of planetary health as, varyingly, a new principle, field, or discipline. Concerned with the planetary systems that sustain human health and the various so-called health co-benefits between the two, the engagements of medical professionals practiced under the banner of planetary health have extended well beyond the formal health sector. In this talk I will present some tentative thoughts on how we might think about the image of planetary health and its position in medical professional sensibilities.

2. Stefania Vicari (Sociological Studies) “Humans, Platforms and Genetic Risk”
With the recent roll out of whole genome sequencing and the increasing use of predictive genetic testing, a rising number of individuals are identified as ‘previvors’, namely as healthy individuals at risk of genetic diseases. Existing research shows that social media platforms help people live through illness, yet little is known about how they shape life choices in healthy individuals who are expecting to become patients and who plan their life around – or despite – this expectation. In my work I focus on cancer 'previvorship', or the condition of coping with a genetic predisposition to cancer prior to cancer occurrence. Bringing together an understanding of genetics with concepts from the sociology of health and illness and platform studies, I explore if, how and to what extent the architectures, vernaculars and (socio-economic) values of western social media platforms shape the way previvorship is lived, performed and understood.

3. Warren Pearce (iHuman/Sociological Studies) “Inequalities and the imagined public: cohesive and fractured assumptions within UK scientific advice”
By the start of 2021, the UK was in the midst of a disastrous second wave of deaths from Covid-19, and had the highest per capita death rate of any large country. Yet the UK had previously been identified as one of the countries best prepared for any future pandemic. This gap between preparedness and performance continues to demand explanation. We contribute to this effort by revealing the "imagined public” within the UK's scientific advice. This imagined public constitutes a key set of framing assumptions that help to make sense of the country's broader pandemic response. Our paper aims to make these assumptions explicit, and show how the imagined public went through cycles of cohesion and fracture in the fraught months of February-June 2020. Analysing official minutes and press briefings, we identify three characteristics of the imagined public: (1) a ‘freedom-loving’ public resistant to stringent policy interventions; (2) the public as part of a societal ‘machine’, subject to precision control from the centre in order to achieve policy goals; (3) a public that was, in an echo of wartime rhetoric, ‘all in it together’. We focus particularly on the tensions between a singular imagined public and the multiple health inequalities that became increasingly stark as the pandemic developed. We conclude by considering the implications of our analysis, both for understanding the UK’s response to Covid and for the future practice of scientific advice.

1st February 2021
12 – 13.30

Key concerns for Critical Disability Studies in Covid-19 times
Dan Goodley, Rebecca Lawthom, Kirsty Liddiard and Katherine Runswick-Cole (Education)

This paper offers an inevitably partial take on some of the key concerns that we think scholars, activists and artists of disability CFR studies should be engaging with. Everything we do, these days, takes place in the shadows cast by the global pandemic. While it is important to acknowledge the centrality of Covid-19 - and the threat this poses to the mind-bodies,politics, and everyday realities of disabled people - we want to foreground some preoccupations, ideas and debates emerging from within the field of disability studies. We will begin the paper by offering a perspective on the contemporary nature and state of disability studies; suggesting that we are all critical disability studies thinkers now. Next, in order to narrow the focus of the discussion in this brief paper, we choose one emergent and popular theoretical orientation - posthuman disability studies. Then, we introduce and elaborate on four broad concerns that we think we should engage with; desire, alliances, non/humans and their implications for conceptualising social justice. Throughout the paper we will work through some of the power dynamics, questions of accountability

28th January 2021; 12 - 13.00
On Marginalisation

in collaboration with Critical Psychology and Education Cluster, School of Education
Chair: Harriet Cameron

Dr Chris Winter (Education), Geography GCSE constructs the white world
Since the rise of the global Black Lives Matter movement, the accusation that systemic whiteness pervades the education system in England increased in prominence, with school History as a key target, whilst little attention is paid to school Geography. I investigate the legacy of school Geography’s white epistemology and its enactment today in two ‘multicultural’ schools. I inquire into discourses of whiteness and experiences of marginalisation resonating through the GCSE topic of ‘Global Development’. The study indicates three intersecting technologies at work: ‘Dividing the World’, ‘”Race”, Whiteness and Colour-blindness’ and ‘Performativity’.

Professor Rebecca Lawthom (Education), Community Psychology: the recognition of and working with marginalisation
For those people who find themselves at the edges or fringes, we need to find a psychology that connects and reaches out. Community psychology is one such space in which this connectivity is taken seriously. Using projects such as working with migrants or homelessness, I show how this thinking can work when we privilege the experiences of marginalised groups within the research.

Robot reading books

Our work

How we understand being ‘human’ differs between disciplines and has changed radically over time. We are living in an age marked by rapid growth in knowledge about the human body and brain, and new technologies with the potential to change them.