UoB Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Mary Brydon-Miller, University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

A Politics of Reciprocity: The Role of HEIs in Fostering and Nurturing Community Strengths

Dates of visit: 5 - 30 July 2018

Mary Brydon-Miller, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation, & Organizational Development in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville. She is a participatory action researcher who conducts work in both school and community settings. Her current research focuses on research ethics in educational and community settings, including work on the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, Disability and Community: Dis/engagement, dis/enfranchisement, dis/parity and dissent. She is the editor, with David Coghlan, of the SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research and has recently completed work on a book on ethical challenges in the context of participatory research with her colleague Sarah Banks from Durham University. Her next major project focuses on working with middle-school students from around the world to engage as citizen scientists to better understand the impacts of global climate change.

Brydon-Miller has considerable experience and expertise in building, supporting and consolidating university-community collaborations. She has published widely on community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) and the ethical dynamics of CBPAR. A key focus of activity will relate to a project on Disability and Community: Dis/engagement, dis/enfranchisement, dis/parity and dissent (the D4D project), a 3-year collaborative project with academics from Bath Spa University, the University of the West of England, University College London and Manchester Metropolitan University. The D4D project lead academic within the University of Bristol was Dr Sue Porter, a Senior Research Fellow in the School for Policy Studies (SPS) who died suddenly in 2017 (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2017/january/sue-porter.html). Following her untimely demise, the University of Bristol contribution on this project was altered and now focuses more specifically on people with learning disability (PwLD), and their meanings of ‘community’, ‘inclusion’, ‘belonging’ or ‘marginalization’. The UoB lead academic is Dr Agnes Bezzina who has found invaluable support from Brydon-Miller in developing ideas around community and inclusion, with the aim of transforming key research findings into practice messages for educating workers in the learning disability sector. Through this visiting professorship, Brydon-Miller would bring her expertise in exploring and rethinking the ethical dynamics of researching with PwLD.

She will engage with colleagues in the UoB, students, and community partners in sharing expertise on the theory and practice of community-based participatory action research (CBPAR). As a UoB visiting professor, she will also be re-connecting with the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT), a charity which encourages and supports community-driven development. Brydon-Miller will be working with the Gloucester City Homes, a social landlord, to incorporate a strengths-based health needs-assessment to community regeneration. Finally, the visiting professorship will provide the opportunity for working with Bristol-based schools on developing an International Middle-School Climate Change project. This is part of an international initiative aimed at addressing issues of environmental justice by bringing together middle-school-aged children from around the world in gathering and sharing their own research on the impacts of climate change on local communities.

During their stay Professor Brydon-Miller will be hosted by Mrs Aggie Bezzina (School of Policy Studies).

Professor Brydon-Miller will be giving the following lectures and seminar:

Wednesday 11th July – 4.30pm – 5.30pm in Room 2D2 in the PRIORY ROAD COMPLEX
Public Lecture: Ethics in Participatory Research in Health and Social Wellbeing
Participatory research is now well-established as an approach that involves people with a direct interest in, or experience of, the issue being studied in carrying out some aspects of the research. However, it can raise some unique and challenging ethical issues.  This lecture will be based on Brydon-Miller’s most recent book published with social work academic Sarah Banks.  It will focus on key ethical issues in participatory research such as power, ownership, confidentiality and boundaries.


Thursday 19th July – 11.30am – 12.30pm in the Common Room in NO. 8, PRIORY ROAD

Departmental Lecture: Engaging and Mobilizing Communities: A Participatory Research Approach

Through this lecture, Brydon-Miller will provide a description and account of the process of participatory action research in mobilizing communities for action and social change.  She will bring the method to life, and demystify its complexities, by drawing on examples from her own practice as a participatory researcher.


Thursday 19th July – 1.15pm – 2.30pm in the Common Room in NO. 8, PRIORY ROAD

Graduate Student Seminar:  Exhilarations and Challenges: Participatory Research in Practice

This Seminar will be tailored for graduate students, with the aim of providing an overview of participatory approaches to research.  Drawing on examples from her own practice, Brydon-Miller will explore the satisfaction of participatory research, as well as the challenges this may present.