Colourful selection of books

School of Social Work & Social PolicySeminar Series - 2021/22

Seminar 1 - How to do ‘Public Engagement’ Work as Activism: Re-asserting the Inherent Worth of Broad Communication within the Neo-Liberal University.

Our first seminar of this semester’s seminar series will be held on 15/09/21 via Zoom between 12-1pm.


Title: How to Do Public Engagement Work as Activism: Reasserting the Inherent Worth of Broad Communication within the Neoliberal University.


In this seminar, Dr Gemma Flynn poses the question as to how we can rescue ‘public engagement’ from becoming a simple box ticked in the ever-expanding requirements of an academic career. In the midst of a pandemic and intensely strained work conditions for anyone involved in the creation of new knowledge, is there any point in expending effort to perpetuate that knowledge right now? This seminar will argue that taking a meaningful and specific approach to public engagement efforts can act as a form of resistance against the encroaching Neoliberal imperatives of the University. In this seminar, we will also consider what your approach to public engagement can and should look like, with the argument that any first steps in this work should begin with framing the broader purpose of your communication as activism.


About Gemma: Dr Gemma Flynn is a new Teaching Associate in Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde and a member of the Criminal and Justice Social Research Cluster. She joins us from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research where she was a Researcher in Criminology and Public Engagement and previously from the University of Edinburgh where she taught Criminology.


To join the event, please register via our Eventbrite page 


Thank you for your continued support and interest.

Seminar 2 - What Does The British Publics Think About Health Inequalities?

Our next seminar of this semester’s seminar series will be held on 29/09/21 via Zoom between 12-1pm.

In this seminar, chaired by Prof. Neil Quinn,  Professor Kat Smith argues that amidst the mass of scholarship examining the UK’s persistent health inequalities, very little research considers public understandings of these inequalities. The literature that does exist is dominated by small-scale qualitative studies exploring how health inequalities are experienced by specific communities. As a result, we know very little about what members of the public, more broadly, think about the country’s long-standing health inequalities. We know even less about public views on potential policy responses to these inequalities. This is an important gap, given research has previously found that many researchers and policymakers working on health inequalities in the UK do not believe macro-level, evidence-informed proposals would attract sufficient public support to be viable. This study employed a mixed methods approach, combining a nationally representative survey with three two-day citizens’ juries to explore public views of health inequalities and potential policy responses. This seminar will discuss our results, using these to argue that members of the public generally have a good understanding of the social determinants of health but that this does not translate into an awareness of health inequalities. Next, I will show how our results challenge perceptions that there is a lack of public support for the kinds of upstream policy proposals favoured by many researchers. However, I will go on to show that, despite evident support for upstream policy responses, some of these proposals (notably tax increases to redistribute wealth) also generated substantial controversy within jury discussions. Our analysis suggests this occurred as a result of three, intersecting factors: a resistance to ideas experienced by participants as disempowering; the existence of discourses that run counter to ideas about health inequalities; and a lack of trust in local and national government. This has important implications for those seeking to promote evidence-informed policy responses to health inequalities since it suggests that efforts to better communicate patterns and causes of health inequalities, or even evidence to support particular interventions, may make little difference to public support without additional work to address these broader challenges. The seminar will conclude by reflecting on our findings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, considering whether and how this might be changing public views.


Short Biography: Kat Smith is a Professor of Public Health Policy at the Strathclyde School of Social Work and Social Policy. Her research focuses on analysing policies impacting on public health and health inequalities and understanding who and what influences these policies (from evidence to experts, NGOs to corporations and publics). Her books include ‘Beyond Evidence-Based Public Health Policy: The Interplay of Ideas (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2013), the British Medical Association award-winning edited collection, ‘Health Inequalities: Critical Perspectives’ (Oxford University Press 2016 – co-edited), The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges (Policy Press, 2020 – co-authored) and The Unequal Pandemic: COVID-19 and Health Inequalities (Policy Press, 2021 – co-authored). Kat is currently Co-Editor-in-Chief of Evidence & Policy and Co-Editor of the book series Palgrave Studies in Science, Knowledge & Policy.


All are welcome so if you are interested in attending, please register on our Eventbrite page

Thank you for your continued support and interest.


Seminar 3 - Thinking About Suicide in Later Life.

Trish Hafford-Letchfield

Seminar 4 - Criminology, Contexture and “Western” Neglect: An Excursion Through and Around Methods in Research into Former Soviet Penal Culture

By Laura Piacentini

Seminar 5 - Recording and Social Work and Care Practice

By Emma Miller

Seminar 6 - Fugitive Coproduction: Community Practices in Scottish Hospitals, and Why They Matter.

By Ellen Stewart

Seminar 7 - Why do Prisons Differ? A Comparative Study of Irish and Scottish Penal Culture.

By Louise Brangan