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Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Previous Events

List of months

Thursday 27 March 2014

Horizon 2020 Information Session

12:00pm to 1:30pm, F009, Wolfson Research Institute, Research Office

Wednesday 26 March 2014

The Inaugural Lecture of Professor Carole Torgerson - 'What works....and who listens? Encouraging the experimental evidence base in education and the social sciences

5:00pm to 7:00pm, F009, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University, Queen's Campus, Stockton, Professor Carole Torgerson


Hosted by Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor

The Wolfson Research Institute are pleased to host The Inaugural Lecture of Professor Carole Torgerson, Chair in Education, School of Education, Wolfson Research Fellow and Member of John Snow College.


The gold standard research design for building evidence in medicine is the randomised controlled trial (RCT); however, in education and social policy research this design is less widely used. This is despite the first RCTs in the modern period having been conducted in the field of education. Indeed, historically, education researchers have made important methodological advances in RCT design. In the last 10 or so years after a 50 year lull in activity, there has been a resurgence in the use of randomised trials to inform education policy in the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) particularly. There is a growing realisation by policy-makers that other research designs cannot effectively answer the ‘What works?’ question.

Over the last decade, since I began to work in evidence-based education, the political and research scenes have changed beyond recognition. In the US, under George Bush, the Institute of Educational Sciences mandated RCTs as the design of choice in education evaluation. In the UK, a House of Commons select committee report was highly critical of the UK’s Department for Education (DfE) for not supporting RCTs more widely. Under the last government I undertook the first DfE-supported trial, along with colleagues in Durham and the University of York. In times of austerity the coalition government has recently established the Educational Endowment Foundation, which has so far sponsored more than 60 RCTs. In the space of 10 years we have gone from very few RCTs of variable quality to increasing numbers of large well-designed studies.

However, policy makers do not always ‘listen’ to the evidence. Drawing on my own RCTs and systematic reviews in education, this lecture will reflect on the use - or not- of these rigorous designs in UK education policy. I will discuss two prominent case studies in which I have been involved: (1) The Every Child Counts policy and (2) Phonics teaching.

The lecture will conclude with an assessment of the current status of the field, including good examples where trial evidence has been used appropriately and outcomes have improved as a consequence. The challenges of undertaking RCTs and barriers to their implementation will be discussed along with hopes for the immediate future.

All Welcome

Coffee available from 5.00 p.m. Wine and canapés 6.30 p.m. to 7.00 p.m.

To register for the event please contact Clare Heaps or Tel 0191 334 8332

Contact for more information about this event.

Wednesday 19 March 2014


Men's Health, Masculinities, Work and Wellbeing

9:30am to 5:00pm, Trevelyan College, Durham City, Keynote: Dr John Oliffe

This symposium will bring together a wealth of current research from leading academics in the field of men's health, as well as considering the future of men's health research.

This event is supported by funding from the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness.

Other supporters include the Social Futures Institute (Teesside University), the Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities (Durham University) and the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing.

Please register your place using this link.

Contact for more information about this event.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

WRI Guest Lecture. Ambiguous Capture: Collaboratory capitalism in global vaccine initiatives by Dr Janice Graham

12:30pm to 2:30pm, Tees Suite, Wolfson Research Institute, Dr Janice Graham

Thursday 13 March 2014

Health Rights in (against?) the Global Marketplace

9:00am to 10:00am, Durham; South End House SE016 (ground floor), Professor Ted Schrecker

Over the past few decades, reorganisation of production and finance across multiple national borders has been accompanied, and often driven, by restructuring of social relationships around the primacy of the market. The consequences have been described by the editor of Le Monde Diplomatique as an ‘inequality machine [that] is reshaping the planet’. That reshaping redistributes opportunities to lead a healthy life (the social determinants of health), and at the same time affects the prospects of political coalitions in support of reducing health disparities. Against this background, the human rights frame of reference is especially valuable as a direct challenge to neoliberal orthodoxy, grounded in the generic commitment to what historical sociologist Margaret Somers has called ‘the right to have rights’ independent of the market.


In June 2013, Ted Schrecker moved from Canada to take up his new position at Durham; he remains an adjunct professor of Epidemiology and Community Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Ted's academic background is in political science, and he has taught that discipline as well as environmental studies and population health (at the doctoral level) from an interdisciplinary perspective. For the past decade his research has addressed the consequences of transnational economic integration (globalization) for health and health equity; he also has a long-standing interest in issues at the interface of science, ethics, law and public policy. Ted studied at Canada's Trent University, York University and The University of Western Ontario, and worked for many years as a legislative researcher and public policy consultant before coming to the academic world.

Friday 7 March 2014

Professor Ted Schrecker Inaugural Lecture: Rediscovering Virchow, revisiting Brecht: Health politics for a new Gilded Age

5:15pm to 7:00pm, Queen's Campus, Holliday Building, Professor Ted Schrecker

The editor of Le Monde Diplomatique recently wrote that “[t]he inequality machine is reshaping the whole planet.” This is the background against which prospects for reducing health disparities through public policy must be assessed; it presents formidable challenges, not least because in many contexts state policies are either accelerating the inequality machine or magnifying its effects. WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health directed attention to the moral imperative of overcoming those challenges, but doing so will require re-engaging with older, explicitly political understandings of public health and social policy.

A drinks reception will follow the lecture.

The lecture will begin at 5.15 pm prompt.


In June 2013, Ted Schrecker moved from Canada to take up a position as Professor of Global Health Policy at Durham. Ted's academic background is in political science, and for the past decade his research has addressed the consequences of transnational economic integration (globalisation) for health and health equity; he also has a long-standing interest in issues at the interface of science, ethics, law and public policy. Ted has taught environmental studies, political science and population health (from an interdisciplinary perspective) at three Canadian universities, and also worked for many years as a legislative researcher and public policy consultant.


To book your place please click here

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Wolfson Coffee Morning

11:00am to 11:30am, Wolfson Street, Wolfson Research Institute, Queen's Campus

Wolfson coffee morning will be held on Wednesday 5th March 2014 from 11.00am - 11.30am in the Wolfson Street. Dr Amanda Ellison, Co-Director, Tomorrow's Healthy Adults will be available to discuss her role in leading the THA theme.

Please do come along and network with colleagues over a cake and a coffee.

Everyone is welcome!

Contact for more information about this event.

An Audience with Rose Barbour

12:00pm to 2:00pm, F009, Wolfson Seminar Room, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University, Queen's Campus, Professor Rose Barbour

Rosaline (Rose) Barbour, Professor of Health Care at the Open University (UK), is a medical sociologist, whose research career has covered a wide variety of topics located at the intersection of the clinical and the social. Her theoretical interests centre on the links between identity and agency, and social and cultural capital. Reflecting her conviction that qualitative research is a craft skill, Rose has developed an innovative series of ‘hands-on’ qualitative methods workshops and her most recent books -

Doing Focus Groups (Sage, 2007/8 – Book 4 of the Sage Qualitative Methods Kit) and Introducing Qualitative Research: A Student Guide (first edition, 2008; second edition, 2014) bring together and share the expertise she has developed.


While there is no one definitive qualitative tradition, it is important to acknowledge that there is such a thing as ‘sub-optimal’ qualitative research. The case is therefore presented for thoughtful and thorough engagement throughout the research process, matching research questions with appropriate methods, thinking through rationales for choice of methods – whether these are ‘stand-alone’ or mixed methods, considering how best to facilitate research conversations (to encourage production of data that is ‘fit-for-purpose’, and an-ticipating the process of analysis itself (even as we design our studies and generate our data).

Taking a critical look at the well-rehearsed – but frequently over-stated division between positivist and inter-pretivist approaches - it contends that it is possible – even, perhaps, desirable - to work productively at this intersection, as advocated, for example, by Maxwell (2011) combining a realist ontology (in the form of thoughtful siting of studies and research design – especially sampling) with a constructivist epistemology (which acknowledges the socially-constructed and contested nature of ‘knowledge’ and ‘health-related behaviours’).

The presentation will also examine the potential afforded by different approaches to generating and analyzing qualitative data, suggesting how we might learn from the example of how familiar methods have been pressed into service by others, in fields as diverse as political science, media studies and cultural sociology.

Prof. Rose Barbour will give a short talk, based on her recently published book, Introducing Qualitative Research’which will be followed by a question and answer session. Questions can be sub-mitted to Sally Brown in advance (, but there will also be plenty of opportunity for questions on the day.

Copies of Rose’s latest book, ‘Introducing Qualitative Research: A Student’s Guide’ will be available on the day at a discounted price.

As usual we will begin at 12 noon with sandwiches and coffee; please reply to Jude Walsh to confirm your attendance for catering purposes:

Contact for more information about this event.