Elaine Drainville to exhibit ‘Cultural Rivers’ at SU Conference

Adobe Spark (1)CRMC’s Elaine Drainville will give a presentation at Sunderland’s Student Union Conference, discussing the use animation and documentary film practice to investigate inclusive educational practices relating to first generation immigrant children in the UK.  

Elaine will exhibit work entitled ‘Cultural Rivers’, a gallery exhibition produced by first generation immigrant children. As director of HEART NE (Healing, Education, Animation, and Research Therapy) Elaine will talk about using film and animation as a therapeutic and coaching tool.

The theme of the conference is Learning from Visual and Cultural Sources, and it takes place from 10am on 20th June, at Hope Street Exchange, Chester Road in Sunderland.


CRMCS Lecturer wins Webby with Radio.Garden

The Webby’s are the leading international awards that honour excellence on the internet, described by the New York Times as ‘The Internet’s highest honor’.

Dr Caroline Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Radio at the CRMCS, won the jury prize for best media streaming with her Radio.Garden project.

Dr Mitchell commented: “It’s fantastic that radio.garden has won this. As awards go the Webbys are really cool! This award will bring even more people to the Radio.garden platform to listen to thousands of live radio stations all over the world and to hear more about our research in the ‘Transnational Radio Encounter’s  project. Students and young people love the site and if it brings more people to listening to radio and understanding more about the important role that radio still has in world communications then I am very happy.”

Radio.Garden is an online platform that allows users to explore an interactive globe filled with radio’s past and present.

From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from ‘home’ from thousands of miles away – or using local community radio to make and enrich new homes.

The project was developed as part of the HERA-funded European collaborative research project Transnational Radio Encounters (TRE), directed by Professor Golo Föllmer from the University of Halle (Germany) alongside Dr Caroline Mitchell at the University of Sunderland, Alec Badenoch and Sonja de Leeuw from Utrecht University, Jacob Kreutzfeld of Copenhagen University, Peter Lewis from London Metropolitan University and Per Jauert of Aarhus University, and in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.

New ESRC funded doctoral studentships at the CRMCS

The Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies at University of Sunderland seeks outstanding applications for ESRC funded doctoral studentships in the broad area of Media and Society.

Part of the ESRC funded NINE (Northern Ireland North East) Doctoral Training Partnership, the Centre is home to world leading research in Communication, Media and Cultural Studies and has a vibrant postgraduate community working on subjects ranging from social interaction and participation, new and social media, film and animation to alt media, and emerging sexual and social cultures. The Centre’s website details current research staff and research areas:http://www.crmcs.sunderland.ac.uk/about-us/

Three different routes are available and we welcome enquiries for all three. These are:

  • 1+3 awards to complete a research training Masters degree followed by a PhD.
  • +3 awards for students who have already completed an ESRC-recognised Masters degree that included social science research training of 60 credits or more.
  • +3.5 awards for students who have completed a Masters degree that did not include social science research training. Students will undertake the PG Certificate in Research Training alongside the PhD.

NINE DTP is an exciting new collaboration between seven universities producing world-class research across the full range of social science disciplines. NINE provides an opportunity for students to be part of a community of academic excellence which is shaping the global future of social sciences while engaging with the challenges in our local communities. Full details about the scheme are available here: https://www.ninedtp.ac.uk/


Eligibility Criteria

NINE DTP is seeking to recruit candidates with an outstanding academic background and research potential.

Candidates applying for a standard +3 doctoral award must also hold or be in the process of completing an ESRC-recognised Masters degree.

Doctoral candidates who hold or are completing a Masters degree in a relevant discipline, but which does not include the required research methods training, can apply for a +3.5 award.

Applicants must:

  • have a 1st class or 2:1 honours degree in the social sciences, or have relevant comparable experience.
  • be a UK/EU resident


Current doctoral students are not eligible.

Further details about the NINE DTP scheme can be found here: https://www.ninedtp.ac.uk/.


How to apply

In the first instance, you should explore the Centre’s webpages and specifically the profiles of research active staff http://www.crmcs.sunderland.ac.uk/research-staff/. The research proposal for application to the DTP grant competition should be prepared in consultation with an identified research supervisor, who should be approached well in advance of the final deadline, and be submitted on the correct forms.  Contact your potential supervisor by email or you can contact Media and Society contact Professor Clarissa Smith clarissa.smith@sunderland.ac.uk to discuss your application.

Your application must include:

  • a research proposal of no more than 2000 words
  • a current CV
  • two references
  • certified transcripts of previous qualifications (translated into English where necessary) are required.

The final deadline for submitting a postgraduate application and supporting documentation is Monday 16 January 2017, 5:00pm.

Clarissa Smith brings sex to the city in Moscow


CRMCS Professor Clarissa Smith has given a talk at Moscow’s Strelka Insititute as part of their 2016 summer season. The first time the institute had ever hosted a lecture on sex, pornography or technology, the event attracted an audience of over 800 people and coverage from Russia’s Current Time, Moscow 24, TV Rain and Wonderzine.

The talk, entitled ‘Sex, Digital Technology and the City’, focused on the ways in which sexually explicit media have transformed dating practices and experiences of intimate relationships and how pornography, in particular, is connected to changing ideas of sexual identity and sex itself.

Strelka is a non-government educational institute founded in 2009 to change the cultural and physical landscapes of Russian cities. Every summer, Strelka hosts a number of public events including lectures, conferences, and film screenings in the courtyard on Bolotny Island, right opposite the Kremlin and Krymskaya Embankment.

Richard Berry talks ‘Serial’ in Murcia

CRMCS Senior Lecturer Richard Berry has presented his research at the University of Murcia. He delivered a paper was based on a recent article he published in the Journal of Radio and Audio Media on the success of the podcast Serial, in which he suggests the mobile phone played a fairly significant role

‘My suggestion in the paper was that there was inevitability of podcasts and mobile phones coming together and that in doing so, podcasts become more accessible and more mainstream’, Richard writes. ‘If you can remember the early days of podcasting, you’ll know it was a bit geeky and was not a user-friendly experience. It got better when iTunes came along, but it lacked the immediacy of other media forms. Now with podcast apps, listeners only carry one device, one which is connected to the internet allowing listeners to stream at will and to share that content on with listeners. In the case of Serial this listener advocacy and sharing was a key driver in its success.’

Richard’s original paper is currently available free here, and you can hear him interviewed on Murcia Radio Station Onda Cera here

Header image: Serial

CRMCS’s Trish Winter contributes to new AHRC report

Dr Trish Winter’s research contributes to a new report by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, published on 17th March.  The new report Understanding the value of arts and culture by Professor Geoffrey Crossick and Dr Patrycja Kaszynska presents how we think about the value of the arts and culture to individuals and society, and the methodologies we can use for capturing cultural value.

Trish worked with Grand Gestures Elders Dance Group, a group of older dancers based in Gateshead, with their lead artist Paula Turner and the project partner Equal Arts.  This research  sought to understand the ‘value’ of dance activity for this group of older dancers.
The AHRC’s three-year Cultural Value Project involved 70 original pieces of work that provide the most in-depth attempt to understand the difference made by arts and culture.

Professor Crossick states: “In recent years debate about cultural value has not grasped the range of the ways in which people engage with arts and culture. The Project broadens the scope of the discussion on cultural value to include alongside the subsidised cultural sectors the commercial sector, and amateur and participatory arts and culture, which are how most people engage. It also emphasises the way they are part of a single ecology.”

What emerges from the project is the need to make first-hand, individual experience of arts and culture central to our understanding of their value. To fully appreciate the impact of culture on the economy, on cities or on health we must start with understanding the individual experience, whether this is in helping people to become more reflective about themselves and others or more imaginative and innovative as members of society. So many other benefits flow from that.

Dr Kaszynska commented: “If we start with the individual and work outwards to broader society and the economy we quickly realise we need a wider and more subtle methodological repertoire to talk about the concept of cultural value and how we evaluate it.”

The report sheds new light on a number of areas where research shows arts and culture to make a difference. These include:

  • Personal reflectiveness and empathy, illustrated by case studies of the role of arts and culture in the criminal justice system and their place in supporting professional and informal carers;
  • The relationship between arts and culture in producing engaged citizens, more active in voting and volunteering, and more willing to articulate alternatives and fuel a broader political imagination;
  • A critical assessment of the widespread use of arts and cultural interventions to help peace-building and healing after armed conflict, including civil conflict such as that in Northern Ireland;
  • Whether the role of small-scale arts in generating healthy urban communities might be more important for the health of towns than large-scale culture-led regeneration projects;
  • The ways in which arts and culture feeds into the creative industries, supports the innovation system and attracts talent and investment to places;
  • The contribution of arts and culture to addressing key health challenges such as mental health, an ageing population and dementia.

In reframing and advancing thinking about our understanding of cultural value and how to capture it, the report draws attention to the need for:

  • Wider use of evaluation as a tool within the cultural sector. Better evaluation can help cultural organisations and practitioners learn from their activities and their audiences, and it should not be seen as primarily undertaken to satisfy funders;
  • Appropriate tools to be used for the particular subject being studied with no automatic assumption that quantitative or experimental methods are superior to qualitative or humanities-based ones; it identifies,  a broad range of methodologies that include approaches drawn from the social sciences, ethnography, economics, the arts and hermeneutics, and science and medicine;
  • The further development of economic valuation methodologies that are recognised by the Treasury for evaluating public expenditure decisions, where the Project has made a significant contribution;
  • Better understanding of the ways in which digital engagement is affecting people’s experience of arts and culture, including the rise of co-production of digital content and experiences;
  • Finally, the report recommends that the AHRC alongside other funders considers establishing an Observatory for Cultural Value, to help take research on cultural value further.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive of the AHRC, comments: “The cultural and creative industries are growing, which means that we are looking at a coming decade with growing demand for research that generates historical, linguistic, intercultural, artistic and religious understanding that feeds the UK cultural sector.  We must also have new ways of thinking – and evaluating – how we best capture and communicate that elusive thing we call ’cultural value‘. The cultural infrastructure we support as a Research Council is expanding and we need to prepare for that expansion and be clear about the ways we can support and sustain it.  The Cultural Value Project has to be placed in that broader context for its rationale to be properly understood.”

Photography by Frances Anderson