ESRC Festival of Social Science 2018 Celebration
  • Crosspoint, Roland Levinsky Building

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Some might ask: ‘What is social science, and what does it do for us?’ 

This event opened up and celebrated the diverse range of social sciences research being carried out at the University, and showcased some of the ways this research is changing the way things are done, whether in healthcare, in the workplace, through changes to public policy or through changing what we know about our city and local surroundings.

Through an interactive marketplace format, the public, businesses and organisations had the opportunity to explore a range of research taking place at the University. Our researchers were on hand to discuss their work and answer questions.

Proceedings were launched by Professor Jerry Roberts, our Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Research and Enterprise, who provided an overview of social sciences at the University. Following this, representatives from Dartington-based charity, Landworks, showcased their ground-breaking training project which provides a supported route back into employment for offenders, with phenomenal results. Along with Dr Julie Parsons, Associate Professor of Sociology, they outlined how this work is supported through collaboration with the University.

The audience then had the opportunity to enjoy canapés, good company and displays of past and present events.

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Today's events

Biography: Professor Jerry Roberts

Jerry is Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise at the University of Plymouth. Prior to this appointment, in February 2017, he was at the University of Nottingham where he was Director of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) AgriFood Advanced Training Partnership and of the University of Nottingham’s BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Jerry’s primary research interests are focused on understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for regulating cell separation processes in plants. He has published in excess of 100 papers in international peer reviewed journals and his work has led to the application and granting of a number of patents.

The LandWorks project

LandWorks is an independent charity providing a supported route back into employment and community for those in prison or at risk of going to prison. It is a unique resettlement scheme that makes a genuine difference to some of the most vulnerable in our society.

Since 2013, LandWorks has supported over 70 people serving community sentences and on day release from prison. It has an employment rate of 92% for graduates, and a reoffending rate of less than 6% - which compares to a national average of 46%. 

The project offers a long-term, holistic approach that offers something very special to its trainees in a beautiful location situated on the Dartington Estate.

Find out about a typical day at LandWorks


Biography: Dr Julie Parsons

Julie is an Associate Professor of Sociology. She recently completed an Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) mid-career fellowship (2016-17), working on a Photographic electronic Narrative (PeN) project with men released on temporary licence from the local prison and others serving community sentences on placement at LandWorks, which is ongoing. This followed a Sociology of Health and Illness (SHI) Foundation Mildred Blaxter fellowship (2015-16), exploring commensality (eating together) as a tool for health, well-being, social inclusion and community resilience at LandWorks. Her book Gender, Class and Food, Families, Bodies and Health (Palgrave MacMillan 2015), was shortlisted for the Foundation of Health and Illness (FHI) book prize in 2016. 

She is convener of the British Sociological Association (BSA) Food Study Group, and a member of the BSA Auto/Biography study group, the BSA Medical Sociology study group and the British Society of Criminology.

Evaluation of LandWorks project

Staff from Sociology at the University of Plymouth have been involved in evaluating LandWorks since the charity started in 2013. Initially this involved supervising postgraduate students from the MSc in Social Research and Evaluation, who proposed a variety of impact measures for the charity. The team then successfully won the tender to evaluate the charity over three years from 2015. The initial aim was to enable LandWorks and its sponsors to learn what works, in order to improve the efficacy of the project and help it become an example of good practice. Methods of evaluation included interviews with trainees, staff and partners, establishing a database to enable LandWorks to collect and analyse information, observation at events and use of the Justice Outcomes Star. 

The evaluation has now moved into a second phase, which will last until April 2020, and will focus on helping LandWorks disseminate its model and outcomes to a wider audience. The findings from this ongoing assessment will be published in two year-end reports (April 2019 and 2020) for the project to distribute to stakeholders, delivery partners, funders and supporters, and use to inform project development. 

‘Finishing Time’ project

This new project will follow graduates from LandWorks as they readjust to life after punishment. Interview data from both the ‘PeN project’ and ‘Finishing Time’ will feed into the overall evaluation of the charity up until 2020.

The Photographic electronic Narrative (PeN) project:

a personal development tool for LandWorks trainees which fosters dialogue between trainees and supporters in order to challenge social exclusion.
Find out more on the PeN project website
Event photography and video
Please be aware that some of the University of Plymouth's public events may be attended by University photographers and videographers, for capturing content to be used in University online and offline marketing and promotional materials, for example webpages, brochures or leaflets. If for whatever reason, you or a member of your group, do not wish to be photographed, please make yourself known to staff working at the event on arrival or to the photographer.