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Durham University

Department of Geography

News Archive

Launch of New Participatory Research Hub

(23 April 2015)

Durham Geography already has a reputation for participatory research, where academics and community organisations work together and have equal input into the design and use of research. The Hub marks the first time that the 'infrastructure' has been formally introduced to support this new approach.

The Hub will offer a 'matchmaking' service, and a programme of talks, workshops, training and mentoring for people from both the University and community sector.

Professor Rachel Pain, a Geography Professor and one of the Directors of the Participatory Research Hub, said "The Hub will allow us to respond to requests from groups and organisations outside the University for help with their research. We have found over the years that there is a strong demand for closer links, and these can be beneficial to both sides. However, there has understandably been some mistrust, and communities not wanting simply to be used for academic benefit. Participatory research is a way of cementing collaborations based on high ethical standards and common goals, and making sure that the benefits of research come to both parties".

The unique initiative is being funded by Durham's Impact Acceleration Account - a grant from the national Economic and Social Research Council to increase the positive impacts of academic research on society.


  • A two-year collaboration between Durham's Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Thrive Teesside and Church Action on Poverty worked with low-income households experiencing high levels of debt in Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees
  • A participatory research project between Durham academics and the Lune Rivers Trust developed a new method for assessing the risk of water pollution from farms
  • The Hub will run 'speed-dating' events where community groups can meet academics with similar research interests
  • Every year, 40 students from Durham's Geography degree carry out research projects with local community groups. They write a report as part of their final degree, and many organisations have gone on to use their findings

Everyone is welcome to the launch event on Monday 27th April, 2015, 16.00 - 19.00 at the College of St Hild and St Bede.

For more information, please contact Dr Cat Alexander (Coordinator, Participatory Research Hub):

Email: | Telephone: +44(0)191 33442254

Room 503 | Department of Geography | Durham University | Lower Mountjoy | South Road | Durham | DH1 3LE