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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Dr Andrew Orton

Director of Education - Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41502
Room number: 30 Old Elvet: Room 102
Department Representative, Durham Research Methods Centre

Contact Dr Andrew Orton (email at

Administrative responsibilities


Andrew has a professional background in community and youth work as practitioner, manager, trustee and consultant. He has worked with a wide range of organisations in voluntary, public and faith-based sectors in these roles and through his research.

Research Projects

Research has included:

  • A two year project with the Methodist Church of Great Britain exploring Deacons' perspectives on 'Good Practice in Diaconal Ministry', in partnership with the Wesley Study Centre.
  • A co-authored AHRC/ESRC-funded literature review which critically explored connections between localism and community empowerment.
  • Work with the Council of Europe:
    • exploring improved approaches with policymakers to building migrants' belonging within local communities, which led to a recommendation to member states being adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 2011.
    • exploring ways of engaging with 'Faith in Intercultural Cities' in 2014.
  • Work with the Department for Communities and Local Government (2009) exploring cross-community interactions.

This research has also included a range of other international engagements, including initial participatory workshops exploring religious mobilisations comparatively in Brazil and England, being an invited participant in the international Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies (2013), and contributing to an international Consultative Workshop on Faith-Based Participation in Civil Society in Sarajevo (2013).


After being Programme Director and teaching on MA Community and Youth Work programmes in previous years, Andrew now lectures on undergraduate departmental modules through convening and teaching the year 1 'Societies in Transition' module, co-leading the year 3 'Communities and Social Justice' module, and contributing to the 'Participatory Action Research' module.

He also supervises a range of PhD students within his research areas, and contributes to staff and postgraduate research training on developing policy and practice through participatory research.


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Print)


Research Interests

  • Andrew's research interests focus on issues of faith, dialogue and diversity in professional practice, with a particular interest in how practitioners and others decide what is 'good practice' within related work.
  • His work is often interdisciplinary in nature, including particular collaborations with practical theology to explore forms of Christian community and youth work.
  • He is also interested in a range of related issues, including professional community work practice, community and voluntary organisation management, and social exclusion, especially in relation to public policy and faith-based social action in these field
  • Whether working with practitioners, policy-makers, or others, Andrew's research builds in impact from the outset by actively involving people within the research process.

Research Projects