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Durham University

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Prof Jon Prosser

Honorary Fellow in the School of Education

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Professor Jon Prosser, BA, MA, DPhil (York)

Jon Prosser has a long-standing record of innovative scholarly work and academic leadership in the field of qualitative methodology which is recognised internationally. Central to his work is the innovation, breadth and quality of work in the field of ‘Visual Sociology’ in general and ‘Visual Methodology’ in particular. He made an impact by adopted a mix of timely strategies that included the establishment of key scholarly journals, engaging in high profile international symposia, and communicating innovative concepts globally through important internet media portals. The International Visual Sociology Association recognised his contribution by instigating the 'Prosser Award for Visual Methodology' in 2015.

Jon feels that despite the long-standing trend toward inclusive research and working "with" rather than "on" participants, the voice and agency of the least able in society is often missing from current methodologies. Hence, he focuses on engaging with people with disabilities by adopting a participatory action methodology within an 'emancipatory' paradigm. Jon believes that visual, sensory, and arts-based methodologies can make a major contribution by working alongside the most vulnerable, underrepresented, and least researched and understood members of society. Currently he works with a small number of people with significant disabilities over an extended period to develop methods of communicating with them to learn about their lives. Jon is now working on a project which aims to provide an insight into the lives of people with disabilities in remote community settings in Mongolia and in Dalit/low caste, and disenfranchised minorities, in the city of Kolkata, India (

Jon has a longstanding interest in the environment. In 1969 he joined ‘Friends of the Earth’ and led a university expedition to an untouched glacier in the central Himalayas where ice samples were taken. The results showed that lead and DDT were present which could only have been transported via the biosphere. This was an early study in global pollution. In 1975 he worked as a mountain guide with pioneering climate researchers from the University of East Anglia and collected glacier samples from Mount Kenya which were later shown to reflect climate changes through time in East Africa. In 1983, whilst Director of Training and Safety in Antarctica, Jon worked to ensure that the US McMurdo base removed radioactive soil and waste that leaked from its nuclear power station was transported back to the USA. He worked on behalf of Greenpeace.

Indicators of esteem:

  • worked on seventeen funded research projects, eight as principal investigator, six as co-applicant, and three as sole researcher,
  • gained funding from diverse yet prominent funding bodies including the Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Social Science Research Council (USA), and the British Broadcasting Corporation.
  • has received honorariums from five overseas universities as part of ‘Distinguished Visiting Professor’ schemes, including the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, Harvard University.
  • have given 17 keynotes and invited presentations and presented papers at a further 21 international conferences.
  • funding bodies from around the world call on his expertise, including the Economic and Social Research Council of Canada and the Economic and Social Research Council of South Africa, and universities in the USA and Canada approach him to review applications for Promotional Chairs and Advanced Grade Chairs.
  • successfully supervised thirty four PhD students from around the world.


Selected Invited Speaker and Keynotes

Prosser, J (1996) Images in Educational Research - Key Issues in Constructing a Methodology. British Educational Research Conference: Visual Methodology, University of Lancaster.

Prosser, J (2000) The Darker Side of Visual Research. ESRC ‘Visual Evidence’ Seminar Series (Keynote), Visual Evidence: Uses and Abuses, International Seminar Series. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Prosser, J. (2002) Visual Research in Education: Methodological Innovations. Lead speaker, international seminar, ‘Methodological Challenges of Image-based Research’.Annual conference, American Education Research Association, New Orleans, convened by S. Weber Concordia University and C. Mitchell. McGill University, Canada.

Prosser, J. (2004) Widening Participation: Visual Indicators of Inclusive Practice.

ESRC, Masterclass Seminar, ‘Problematising Methodology in Access Research’, University of Exeter.

Prosser, J. (2005) Visual Ethics and Educational Research. Warwick Institute of Education, University of Warwick.

Bagnoli, A, Irwin, S., Prosser, J, (2006) Researching Young Lives over Time with Numbers, Words and Images. ESRC Seminar, National Centre for Research Methods. Annual conference British Educational Research Association, Warwick University, UK.

Prosser, J. (2007) The Visual Culture of Schools. Keynote address, Annual Conference of the National Arts Education Association of Canada, Public Lecture, Edmonton City Hall, Alberta, Canada

Prosser, J. (2007) Training in Innovative Methods: A Strategy for Capacity Building. ESRC Research Development Initiative Conference ~ 'Developing the Researcher', Royal College of Physicians, London.

Prosser, J (2007) Visual Methods and the Visual Culture of Schools. School of Education, Communications and Language Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Prosser, J. (2007) Visual mediation of critical illness: an autobiographical account of nearly dying and nearly living. ‘Creating Visual Knowledge’ seminar. Real Life Methods, a node of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, Manchester University. UK.

Prosser, J. (2007) Visual Methods and New Age Research. Centre for Policy on Ageing, Open University. UK.

Prosser, J. (2008) Visual Methods and the Visual Culture of Schools. American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, New York. Symposium ‘Using Visual Methods in Educational Research: issues in Developing Visual Methodologies’. Convenors Steven Higgins, Durham University and Jon Prosser, Leeds University, March 24th – 28th.

Prosser, J. (2008) Visual Methods and International Visual Ethics. International Summer School in Visual Sociology, University of Bologna, Italy, June 8th – June 14th.

Prosser, J. (2008) Analysing Real Life Mixed Methods Data: Focusing on Visual Data. Real Life Methods, a Node of the ESRC National centre for research Methods. Seminar: Analysing Real Life Mixed Methods Data, University of Nottingham Trent University, 24th June.

Prosser, J. (2008) What are Visual Methods? ESRC Research Methods Festival, St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford. 30th June – 3rd July.

Prosser, J., Loxley, A. (2008) Real life sensory methods for understanding the relationship between body and pedagogy. University of Birmingham, School of Education. Funded by Society for Educational Studies. Seminar: Body Pedagogics and the Construction of Ability. 16th,lclkmnlzxcth September 2008.

Prosser, J. (2008) Advances in Participatory Visual Sociology. Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. Funded by Trinity College Research Seminar Series. 26th September 2008.

Prosser, J. (2008) Discussant for three-day International Advanced Seminar. Emergent Seeing and Knowing: Mapping Practices of Participatory Visual Methods. Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. November 13-15.