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Walking Heritage into Future Cities

The Walking Heritage into Future Cities project is a collaboration between Heritage Walk Calcutta (HWC), who have pioneered this model, and the University of Exeter (Humanities and Business School).

Global Challenges Collaboratory

Global Challenges Collaboratory

The HASS Global Challenges Collaboratory supports and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration across the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences to address some of the most pressing issues today, including promoting peace and justice, providing quality education, combatting gender violence and protecting cultural heritage.

Dr Emily Bridger Lecturer in Global and Imperial History
Dr Katie Brown Lecturer in Latin American Studies
Dr Billie Jeanne Brownlee Lecturer in Middle East Politics
Advisory Board
Professor James Clark Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer, Professor of History
Professor Sally Faulkner Associate Dean for International Development, Professor of Hispanic Studies and Film Studies
James Smith

Assistant Head, Humanities and Social Sciences and International Studies

Professor Naomi Sykes The Lawrence Professor of Archaeology
Dr Sarah Tupper GCRF Research Development Manager

Dr Kate Wallis

Lecturer in Global and World Literatures

Prof Elena Isayev

Professor of Ancient History and Place 

Dr Natalie Pollard

Lecturer in English 

Dr Marisa Lazzari

Senior Lecturer in Archaeology

Dr Gill Juleff

Senior Lecturer in Archaeology 

Prof Jose Iriarte

Professor of Archaeology

Dr Francesco Goglia

Senior Lecturer in Italian

Prof Cathy Turner

Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance
Prof Emma Loosley Associate Professor in Theology and Religion 


The burden of mental health and substance use disorders in Belarus is one of the greatest in the world (WHO 2018). As with many former Soviet republics, there have been legislative shifts towards the deinstitutionalisation of mental health care in recent years. However, in reality, the mental health care system in Belarus remains highly institutionalised, biologically-oriented and medicalised, with very little development of infrastructure to support community and family-based care. Evidence suggests mental health care tends to involve either excessively long stays in mental health institutions or unacceptably short stays in hospital. Psychiatric institutions and hospitals are often in poor condition, and human rights abuses are reported. Whilst systems of outpatient psychiatric care exist, they do not tend to integrate or co-operate with other sectors, and the care provided is often limited to the prescription of psychiatric medications.

The legislative process of mental health reform within Belarus is shifting, albeit slowly, towards the promotion of community and family-based care. However, there is a dearth of research examining how people in Belarus experience mental illness within the family, and almost nothing is known about what people perceive as their needs and priorities for support within their community. Indeed, lack of involvement of service users in the development and implementation of mental health decision-making, reform and support in Belarus is thought to be one of the main barriers for stigma reduction in the country. As such, a key aim of this project is to undertake a pilot study with up to twenty families living with mental illness in order to ascertain how they experience mental health care, how they feel they can best be supported to ensure mental health patients remain within their family, and/or to help keep their children from being removed into state care.

Today, South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world, with an estimated one in three women raped in their lifetime. Despite public outcry and new policy initiatives, understandings of South Africa’s rape crisis remain limited due to two main factors: a failure to understand the history sexual violence across the apartheid and post-apartheid periods; and the neglect of women’s own voices in research or policy. Addressing these limitations, this project will be the first to historicise sexual violence in South Africa from 1948 to the present. It will do so through a focus on those most affected by this violence yet currently most neglected in research: women and girls. It will explore how African women have conceptualised, experienced, and sought justice against the ubiquitous violence that shapes their day-to-day lives, highlighting how experiences of sexual violence developed and changed over the apartheid and post-apartheid periods. In doing so it will reframe historical and contemporary understandings of sexual violence by encouraging a greater emphasis on women’s voices and promoting new methodologies for accessing, sharing and incorporating such marginalised voices into research and policy.

This project will develop a new multi-disciplinary methodology for studying histories of sexual violence, involving substantial collaboration with local NGOs. By crossing discipline and sectoral boundaries, it will overcome many of the challenges researchers have met in the past. This approach includes oral history and archival research, as well as focus groups and workshops with African women from the country’s townships. These will be hosted in collaboration with the project partner, the Khulumani Support Group – an organisation committed to helping women voice and seek support for their experiences of sexual violence. These workshops will be conducted in local languages and co-run by women with longstanding reputations in South African township communities.

Addressing the shortcomings of existing research on sexual violence in South Africa is a matter of urgency in order to recognise the historical developments of the current rape crisis over time, and to incorporate women’s own voices into scholarship and development practice. By taking a historical approach and asking questions about women’s experiences of violence over time, this project will foster more historically and culturally specific understandings of rape in South Africa – knowledge essential for tackling the country’s current crisis in effective ways. In doing so, it will bridge the divides between research, NGOs, and policy makers that have previously hampered attempts to understand or address sexual violence, and highlight the importance of using interdisciplinary methodologies to deliver the UK’s development priority of tackling violence against women and girls.

In spite of policy intentions to address the effects of apartheid, inequalities in Higher Education have remained an endemic problem in South Africa, and continue to affect educators and students. This has recently come to the fore in student-led protests calling for equal access (#FeesMustFall) and decolonisation of the curriculum (#RhodesMustFall). Meanwhile, student protest movements have reverberated across multiple higher education contexts internationally, for example in the UK at Cambridge (#DecoloniseCambridge), and UCL (#WhyIsMyCurriculumWhite).

I am a lecturer in Contemporary English Literature with research interests in ethics and education. The aim of my current project is to grow an international network that investigates the contribution that an investment in fostering socially just pedagogies can make to issues of inequality and injustice in HE globally. The project explores and develops underexploited educational innovations taking place in South Africa that focus on these issues. Unhoming Pedagogies explores practices of anti-hierarchical, positively uncertain, border-crossing educational processes (rather than teaching/knowing as something secure, domesticated, belonging). Through engaging with and promoting cutting-edge posthumanist work now being done by scholars and students of Education and Literature at the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape, the project engages the possibilities for fostering social justice in education through trans-personal literary creativities. 

In the long term, the aim of this work is to foster and sustain socially just pedagogies by bringing together global participants (initially from South Africa and the UK) to trial and research innovations in teaching methodologies and educational theory. It will do this in close dialogue with students, teachers, writers, and researchers from a range of backgrounds, across the social sciences and humanities (chiefly Education, Literary Studies, Creative Writing).

Ethical pedagogies include practices that seek to improve the life and learning opportunities of typically underserved students/educators, while equipping all students/educators to work for a more just society.

A key aim is to explore how global HE institutions are attempting to include more diversity in the curriculum, and in teaching and research practices. This might involve including moves to incorporate non-classroom-based forms of learning, and/or encouraging students to act as co-teachers as part of partnerships with other international/local institutions as part of student-led 'curatorial' activities, or a focus on decolonial education, wonder, play, stupidity.

This project initially focuses on the UK and South Africa as a comparative case study of ethical global knowledge relations, but eventually the intention is to develop the network to Australasia, North America, the Pacific Rim, and continental Europe.

Under the Bolivarian Revolution, since 1999, Venezuela has become increasingly polarised. In political rhetoric, the news, and social media, we find multiple antagonistic narratives: chavistas versus the opposition, rich versus poor, as well as a narrative that Venezuelans have become ‘a submissive people’. Tensions have grown exponentially, erupting in violent protests between 2014 and 2018, featuring young people predominantly, which have left over 200 people dead and around 20,000 people injured. A generation of Venezuelans have grown up in a context where violent confrontation is the predominant expression of political polarisation, and where it is difficult for them to conceive of themselves beyond the frame of conflict.

‘Pensamiento y libertad’ (Thought and Freedom), a project between the Escuela de Teatro Musical de Petare (Petare Musical Theatre School) and researchers from Central University of Venezuela and the University of Exeter, has two main objectives. Firstly, we will hold focus groups with a cross-section of young people (aged 15-25) from different neighbourhoods in Caracas to determine how they understand themselves within the context of conflict and how they view their possibilities for the future. Within this, we will give special attention to the divisive language of Venezuelan politics and how this has shaped young people’s understandings of conflict. Secondly, we will develop and implement a series of weekly arts education workshops in Caracas, following the hypothesis that arts educational practices can improve young people’s critical thinking skills and active citizenship. As well as learning skills in writing, filming and performance, we hope the 100 young participants will develop the ability to think of themselves beyond the current conflict and to take an active role in leading change in the country. A group of these participants will also work with professional web designers to create a website to share both the materials used in the workshops, to be used by other youth groups around the country, and to create a forum for discussion, bringing together a community for change.

‘Pensamiento y libertad’ is part of the wider Changing the Story project funded by the AHRC. Changing the Story explores how the arts, heritage, and human rights education can support youth-centred approaches to civil society building.