Basecamp Projects 2022/23
Title: Achieving Agility: Transdisciplinary Postsecondary Education for Wales
- Dr Natalie Wint (Senior Lecturer, Engineering, Swansea University)
- Dr Wayne Thomas (Senior Lecturer, Economics, Swansea University)
- Dr Adam Mosley (Associate Professor, History, Swansea University)
- Rhys Jones (Senior Lecturer, Media, Swansea University)
This project takes a systems-based approach to understand the ways in which education shapes, and is shaped, by societal and cultural values. It brings together a team which transcends international borders and disciplinary boundaries to explore the value students place upon different disciplines during their development and the effect this has on ability to work across disciplines and develop a resilient, flexible workforce, able to contribute toward an equitable, sustainable, and innovative future. Findings will be used to provide recommendations on what is required to facilitate a systems approach to education, research, and innovation, and to create a life-long learning postsecondary curriculum for FE and HE.
Title: Creating Sustainable Futures through Game Design
- Dr Geraldine Lublin (Associate Professor in Modern Languages, Swansea University)
- Dr Jennifer Rudd (Programme Manager & Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Engagement, Swansea University)
- Ms Marina Saez Lecue (Primary Practitioner at Abercynon Community Primary)
- Dr Sean Walton (Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, Swansea University)
- Dr Claire Williams (Associate Professor in Psychology, Swansea University)
The climate emergency is a key global challenge faced by the “ethical, informed citizens […] of Wales and the world” that the New Curriculum for Wales aims to develop.i Although “supporting sustainable behaviour” is a key step in the journey towards the “Globally Responsible Wales” envisaged by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015,ii this imperative goes beyond Wales and is in keeping with the global needs set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Effective climate education requires “a shift away from more traditional learning and teaching approaches”.iii Using games for climate education is not new; research has shown they are “uniquely suited to communicating climate change science to young people” iv and “could contribute to learning, mitigation and adaptation in response to climate change”.v Rather than producing a ready-made game, however, our project aims to use game design in order to explore effective ways to encourage sustainable habits and raise awareness of the climate emergency among primary school-aged children.vi Existing NERC-funded cross-curricular educational resources focusing on the climate emergency will be used to inspire Key Stage 2 pupils to create their own educational games. We hypothesise that, by engaging in this design process, learners will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of climate change, in addition to producing games which can be used as educational tools themselves.
SUN-CHAT: SUN safety Conversations about Healthy Attitudes to Tanning: exploring perceptions of school children and their parents/carers [Stage 1]
Title: SUN-CHAT: SUN safety Conversations about Healthy Attitudes to Tanning: exploring perceptions of school children and their parents/carers [Stage 1]
- Dr Julie Peconi (Senior Research Officer, Health Data Science, Swansea University) & Dr Gisselle Tur Porres (Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, Education, Swansea University):
- Dr Rachel Abbott (Consultant Dermatologist, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Skin Cancer Prevention Lead for Wales)
- Ms Kirsty Lanyon (Research Assistant, Health Data Science, Swansea University)
- Dr Helen Lewis (Associate Professor and Programme director of PGCE Primary Teaching, Swansea University)
- Dr Emily Marchant (Research Fellow, Child Health and Education Researcher, Swansea University)
The Curriculum for Wales with its designated area for Health and Well-being and autonomy for schools in designing curriculum content, presents an ideal way to facilitate this exploration. One way in which this is being undertaken is via child-led ‘healthy schools’ clubs. Focusing on understanding how different health dimensions, e.g., physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being play a role in children’s lives, the Health and Well-being curriculum area also supports children to incorporate healthy attitudes, some of which could include well-being practices to tanning and sun exposure.
To date, there has been no work in Wales exploring children and their parents’/carers’ perceptions of tanning and how healthier attitudes and behaviours can be encouraged and adopted from a young age. This MASI Basecamp project and new interdisciplinary collaboration between health and education researchers addresses this challenge and works towards the MASI vision of a resilient, joyful, and hopeful future for each child. Our research team have extensive experience of working in the school setting and have already successfully negotiated access to schools to undertake research.
We aim to gather data regarding perceptions of tanning and explore the perceived effects on health to inform the development and testing of an educational toolkit for integration within the new curriculum to encourage children’s healthy behaviours towards tanning and sun exposure.
Website: Click here
Title: The Welsh language and improving dementia resilience: local action for global impact
- Dr James T Murray (Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, Swansea University)
- Dr Gwennan Higham (Senior Lecturer in Welsh, Swansea University)
- Professor Andrea Tales (Director of CIA, Awen Institute and CADR, Swansea University)
The Vision: Network capacity building for a national study lead by Swansea University ofbilingualism in Wales for improving cognitive reserve and reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Promotion of Welsh fluency and proficiency could have potential health locally.
Direct evidence of a health impact on improving cognitive reserve and clinical detection of dementi a-associated biomarkers. Determining whether this does have direct implications for the improvement in cognitive reserve and delaying dementia onset in Wales requires a transdisciplinary approach that brings together researchers in language studies, neuropsychology, and clinical biochemistry.
Dementia is a global problem. Dementia is a syndrome that results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease or stroke.
Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people. By 2050, the number of people with dementia will almost triple to 139 million worldwide  .
There are no effective drug-based cures for dementia. Although there is enormous investment in pharmacological interventions for treating these diseases, no cure has been achieved. However, novel non-pharmacological approaches to postponing the onset of dementia may offer opportunities to treat people at a global level. Such interventions include, but are not limited to, cognitive stimulation, which can protect against the negative effects of cognitive decline caused by age-related neurogenerative diseases.
Bilingualism improves cognitive reserve and reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Bilingualism is a form of cognitive stimulation that employs multiple aspects of brain function, with evidence that it can delay the onset of dementia symptoms in patients by approximately 4–5 years through improved cognitive reserve. Individual bi/multilingualism is increasingly viewed as a protective factor against cognitive decline in old age and is believed to contribute to neural and cognitive reserve . The bi/multilingual benefit has been observed in children, adults, and seniors [4-8] suggesting that, given the right conditions, the benefit for the individual can be long-term.
The majority of claims stem from studies conducted with bilingual speakers, but in recent years evidence of differences between bilinguals (speakers of two languages) and multilinguals (speakers or three or more languages) has also begun to emerge . Significantly for Welsh speakers, current bilingual tests can indicate wrongly that Welsh speakers have poorer cognition than expected for age so this needs immediate investigation.
Maintaining bilingualism in society is a problem. Globally, 50-70 % of the world’s population is bilingual, capable of speaking at least two languages fluently . However, within the UK the numbers are very poor, with less than 8 % (2011 census), while in Wales Welsh-English bilingualism is a little better at 11 % (2015 statistics for Wales). These estimates do not consider that for improved cognitive reserves, bilingualism must be practiced routinely. However, most previous studies in other world regions, fluency and proficiency levels were rarely measured, neither are patterns of language use over time and amount of exposure to bi/multilingual living environments. All these factors are known to affect language acquisition, language maintenance and language development over time and are therefore central to our understanding of the association between language knowledge and cognitive decline. The efforts to increase the number of Welsh speakers and improve Welsh fluency in the population could provide an opportunity to conclusively analyse the impact of bilingualism in delaying dementia. This could have global impact and could influence adoption of similar strategies elsewhere.
Outcomes: The Basecamp award will facilitate development of a Welsh network that investigates Bilingualism and dementia resilience that will lead to further grant funding that will focus on identification of diagnostic/prognostic signatures. These signatures will have global impact, used to monitor ageing populations for efficacy of language retention across multiple regions where bilingualism is found. This will lead to language and cultural preservation, and dementia resilience strategies that improve human health span and life.
Reframing agency in climate crisis narratives: empowering resilient youth in the Global South and the Global North
Title: Reframing agency in climate crisis narratives: empowering resilient youth in the Global South and the Global North
- Dr Frederico Lopez-Terra (Associate Prof in Modern Languages, Swansea University)
- Dr Geraldine Lublin (Associate Prof in Modern Languages, Swansea University)
- Dr Alex Southern (Lecturer in Education, Swansea University)
- Dr Chris Pak (Lecturer in English Literature, Swansea University)
- Dr Anna Pigot (Lecturer in Geography, Swansea University)
- Prof Andrew Kemp (School research Lead in Psychology, Swansea University)
- Dr Panu Pihkala (Eco-anxiety specialist, Helsinki Institute of Sustainabilty Science, Finland)
- Prof Roxana Rugnitz (Institute of Higher Education (IPA))
- Prof Carolina Raimondo Aonso (Institute of Higher Education (IPA))
In recent decades, Environmental Sciences research has shown the ruinous consequences of the ways in which we inhabit our planet and alerted us to the pernicious effects of accumulation and growth. Unsurprisingly, more than 84% of people feel concerned about the outlook for the world,1 with climate-related conditions such as solastalgia, global dread or eco-anxiety on the rise.2 The pandemic has only worsened such perceptions3 and ‘climate action failure’ tops the list of global risks by severity over the next 10 years.4 However, despite mounting evidence that immediate action is needed, we are failing to keep pace with the deterioration of our planet. What is hampering action and threatening the survival of all living things on Earth?
Although the effects of crises can be very tangible and real, our perceptions and responses heavily rely on the way a crisis is communicated and represented; its ‘cultural life’.5 Storytelling is a powerful cognitive scheme for action with profound imaginative, ethical and political consequences. Research suggests that neoliberal epistemologies of growth are linked to representations of agency – or lack thereof – with detrimental effects in demobilising individuals6 and on their wellbeing.7 Notwithstanding its impact on ‘unequal exposure to risk and unequal access to resources’,8 the question of agency representation has been overlooked. Discursive practices which help individuals frame traumatic events differently have been shown to favour understandings that foster more proactive attitudes for action.9 Despite research in different disciplines converging, a truly interdisciplinary study exploring the connections between representations of climate crisis agency and wellbeing still awaits.
Research Programme – Activity: This project will fill the gap by bringing together 9 academics to develop an innovative transdisciplinary methodology drawing on narratology, cultural semiotics, media analysis, close-to-practice pedagogical enquiry and environmental psychology, including Pihkala’s taxonomy of climate emotions.10 This pilot study will aim to understand (i) how different portrayals of agency in narratives of climate-related crises foster different attitudes and emotions towards the environment, including the human (self and others) and the more-than-human (natural) worlds, (ii) how different narrative framings of a singular event can harness improved understandings and foster pro-environment attitudes and emotions, instead of de-mobilising, and (iii) which narrative structures and representations of agency may contribute to fostering wellbeing at individual and societal level.
We will co-create pedagogical tools to challenge certain narratives and develop collective forms of understanding that promote positive change. Younger generations can better embody alternative forms of agency and yet be more vulnerable to this crisis.11 As the pandemic has taught us, tackling planetary crises requires whole-of-society responses and collective action. Co-constructing knowledge across the generational and geopolitical divide and working with a diverse student population will fulfil the civic mission of the project; empowering youth for resilient greener futures, ‘collective wellbeing and sustainable development,’ in line with the OECD PISA ‘Global Competence’ framework.12
In the understanding that the so-called ‘new normal’ is in fact a world in permanent crises – crisis is now the rule rather than the exception — working on a new type of agency that is prepared for these challenges is more important than ever. The ‘new exceptional’ must provide opportunities for positive change and equip citizens with tools that foster different ontologies that are resilient, participatory, diverse and green.
Basecamp Projects 2021/22
Title: Victimisation and Justice in the Digital Society: A Cyber Clinic Prototype
Lead Proposer: Dr Sara Correia (Lecturer in Cyber Threats, School of Law, Swansea University)
- Dr Leigh Clark (Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction, Computer Science, Swansea University)
- Dr Martin Porcheron (Lecturer in Computer Science, Swansea University)
- Dr Nnenna Ifeanyi-Ajufo (Senior Lecturer of Law and Technology, School of Law, Swansea University)
- Mr Stuart Nicholson (Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction, Computer Science, Swansea Universty)
Project Aim: Digital technology is embedded into daily life and cannot be meaningfully separated from ‘real’ world experiences, including those of crime victims (Powell et al. 2018). ONS (2020) estimates that volumes of fraud and computer misuse (e.g. hacking) approximate all other crime combined. These crimes lead to financial losses and impacts on health and wellbeing (Button & Cross 2017). Additionally, tech now plays a role in gender-based violence (Harris & Vitis 2020) and hate crime (Perry & Olsson 2009, Williams et al. 2020). As such, crimes are increasingly ‘hybrid’, both on and offline. However, the victim response to online harms has been shown to be inconsistent, particularly with respect to identifying vulnerable victims (Skidmore et al. 2020) and addressing repeat victimisation (Correia 2020). In parallel, victim support services vary widely across geographical areas and the extent to which they are equipped to respond to the role of digital tech is ill understood.
We will create innovative solutions to these challenges, through co-design and a radically interdisciplinary approach. We aim to (1) explore the extent to which victim services are adequate in a ‘Digital Society’, and (2) develop a ‘Cyber Clinic’ prototype, offering a blend of face-to-face and digital support, to both increase and research individuals’ resilience to victimisation. By funding this project, MASI will contribute to critical understandings of the landscape of crime and harms in a digital world and, with it, help redefine notions of justice. Drawing on previous work and restorative justice principles (Braithwaite 2004; Karagiannopoulos et al. 2019, Zehr 2015), we will ask what online harms are suffered, by whom, how to repair them and who has the obligation/ability to do so
Lead Proposer: Mila Sanchez
- Stephanie Barille (PhD Student, Swansea University)
Project Aim: Swansea-Sorbonne Postgraduate Migration Network is a transnational and interdisciplinary initiative designed for postgraduate students and early career researchers (ECRs) aiming to (1) facilitate discussion and knowledge exchange between researchers working on migration and (2) set up a research network to seek strategic funding and collaborative support for international migration research. The initiative builds on the existing joint work between Swansea University and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (joint PhD) to maximise collaboration between the established migration centres: Centre for Migration Policy Research (CMPR, Wales) and the Cluster of Excellence in Territorial and Spatial Dynamics (LabEx DynamiTe, France). The Swansea-Sorbonne network contributes to the development of Migration Research Wales, a new research network on migration within the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods, supported by the Welsh Government.
This initiative will develop research capacity, starting with the monthly Migration Reading Group and followed by a conference and a workshop on innovative migration methodologies for PhD students and ECRs. Academic reading groups are not well-established in France and the network will offer PhD students and ECRs stimulating and inclusive opportunities to learn from and compare research strategies employed in the leading centres of migration research. A series of online sessions will be held to critically engage with the key migration issues affecting our world. This will be followed by a two-day postgraduate conference and knowledge exchange workshop, ‘Migration: Issues, Solutions and Policies’, to share experiences and prepare a publication of an edited Special Issue. The network will facilitate joint funding applications (Agence Nationale de Recherche and in the framework of the European Collaborative Research Projects) to support further development of methods, approaches and migration-focused research seminars.
Open Conference 24th & 25th May
Titled: Swansea-Sorbonne Migration Network: Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Conference- Migration, Mobilities and Emerging Political Spaces
Please register here
Title: Quantum Imaging for Neurological Trauma (QUINT) - Non-invasive magnetic imaging for the diagnosis of current and historical brain trauma, enabled by novel molecular quantum sensors
Lead Proposer: John Hudson (PhD Student, Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Engineering)
- Freja Petrie (PhD Student, Sport Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering)
- Karol Szuba-Jablonski (PhD Student, Physics, Faculty of Science and Engineering)
- Eleanor Bryant (PhD Student, Psychology, Human and Health Sciences)
- Benjamin Cooze (PhD Student, Medical School)
- Anthony Brennan (PhD Student, Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Engineering)
Project Aim: In 2014, World Rugby introduced head impact protocols in response to a rising number of player concussions. However, neurological damage from collisions may be asymptomatic, leaving players with subtle deficits in brain function. In the short term, this can affect skills such as balance, increasing the risk of additional injury. In the long term, this may lead to acquired neurodegeneration, greatly reducing athletes’ mental, physical and social health and thus their quality of life.
Whilst MRI technology can detect markers of severe brain trauma such as bleeding, it is unable to resolve subtle variations in brain physiology resulting from concussive injury and is limited in pitchside applications due to its cost and size. This delays rapid diagnosis and treatment, creating an urgent need to develop objective, pitch-side diagnostic tools to protect players from further harm.
QUINT will leverage research from the ReD Group into the control of magnetic states in radical molecules, applying it to produce quantum sensors for pitchside biomedical imaging – a topic far outside of the expertise of the group or department. QUINT will foster a network of postgraduate researchers with an interdisciplinary knowledge base to realise quantum imaging via an application focused and human-centered design process.
The subtle differences in the magnetic properties of various brain tissues will be detected with quantum sensors, capable of measuring femtotesla variations in magnetic field. These magnetic variations will allow for imaging with greater precision and lower cost than MRI, providing an objective tool for game removal decisions and further treatment in both symptomatic and asymptomatic brain injury. The greater capability of quantum imaging will have multiple applications outside of sport, from the earlier detection of neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, to diagnosing the subtle physiological changes resulting from historical brain trauma.
A pilot study to explore how women in prison remained connected to family and significant others during COVID-19
Title: A pilot study to explore how women in prison remained connected to family and significant others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lead Proposer: Dr Laura Broome (Research Officer, Psychology, Swansea University)
- Dr Iduna Shah-Beckley (NEXUS Personaltiy Disorder Treatment Services, HMP Eastwood Park)
Project Aim: Engagement with MASI is an opportunity for responsive and applied research to consider how women in prison, who already face significant challenges in maintaining a full, connected and joyful life, can remain connected to family/significant others. Family ties and connectedness through visits, phone calls and letters are associated with reduced reoffending, improved wellbeing and reduced intergenerational criminal behaviours. However, the lockdown restrictions and physical distancing practices necessary to slow the spread of Covid-19, have led to further difficulties maintaining social connections. For example, at the height of the pandemic prisoners were on lockdown for up to 23 hours a day and face-to-face visitation was replaced with video-conferencing approaches. There is a need to understand the potential impacts, consequences and benefits of this on both prisoners and their family/significant others.
This is not only relevant in the context of Covid-19, but also in terms of supporting prisoners to remain connected in the long-term. Custodial sentences are often served out of area i.e., Welsh women are sent to England at all levels of custody including prison and their transition back into the community. There are no female prisons or Approved Premises in Wales, significantly impacting their ability to remain connected to family/significant others. The cost and time of travel for visits out of area is a substantial barrier to remaining connected, which is the most predominant criminogenic need for women. The proposed pilot will consider what we can learn from the lockdown response to prepare for future outbreak waves, facilitate recovery, promote resilience and foster connections. The joint MoJ and Welsh Government Female Offending Blueprint sets out an ambition to accelerate the transformation of services for women in Wales. Engagement with MASI can contribute to this transformation both locally and nationally.