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  Community-based Participatory Research in the Arts: Practice, Innovation and Analysis

   School of Art and Design

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  Dr Marco Bohr, Prof K Townsend  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The proposed project will harness the enormous potential of community-based participatory research to identify, develop and promote innovative responses to global challenges through artistic, creative and/or visual means. Rather than being passive subjects of observation, participatory research allows participants to become active voices on a research project. This allows research to be developed collaboratively through, from and within the community, instead of being superimposed onto the community by researchers. In recent years, community-based participatory research has become increasingly relevant in a wide variety of different academic fields as funding organizations recognize the benefit of interdisciplinary research and the active role that the arts can play in this area. Community-based participatory research is particularly useful in communities who lack representation, agency or who have historically suffered discrimination. Since the emergence of community-based participatory research, the arts have played a growing role in supporting or indeed leading research innovation in the applied, natural or social sciences. The proposed project provides the opportunity for researchers to develop a community-based participatory research project and make this the central focus of their PhD research. We are interested in original, innovative and timely proposals that further investigate the potential of such research through a well-defined project proposal.

Applicants should have a strong understanding of at least one community-based participatory research method such as photo-voice, photo elicitation, visual activism, participatory video, participatory making (e.g. craft practice/activism), co-design, drawing, mapping or visual storytelling. A track-record in working in one of these areas is highly desirable. This is an interdisciplinary PhD opportunity and applicants will be encouraged to strongly consider the emerging overlap between the chosen research method and the challenge that the research seeks to address. We support PhD projects via the traditional research degree consisting of an original written thesis, or an original written thesis with a significant body of artistic and/or visual work associated with the community-based participatory research. Applicants should note that NTU’s Ethics Approval will need to be considered if work with and from the community is to be featured in the PhD. An awareness of ethical considerations in this area is desirable. Applicants from a wide range of different backgrounds, whether that is within academia, industry, governmental, non-governmental organizations or cultural organizations are very much encouraged to apply.

The successful applicant would join one of the country’s leading art and design schools which has been influencing, inspiring and innovating for over 175 years. The school has a vibrant, forward-looking and expanding research community where collaboration and interdisciplinarity are embraced and encouraged. Depending on the nature of the project, PhD candidates would have access to a number of highly relevant research groups within the school such as the Artistic Research Group, the Design Research Centre or the Fashion and Textiles Research Centre. Additionally, successful applicants would have access to world-class technical facilities and technical expertise in relation to photography, filmmaking, animation, visual communication and/or fashion and textiles if this is appropriate for the project. As UNESCO City of Literature, Nottingham is a vibrant and exciting city considered to be one of the leading centres of the Creative Industries in the UK.

The successful applicant would be principally supervised by Dr. Marco Bohr, Associate Professor in Visual Communication and Dr. Katherine Townsend, Associate Professor in Fashion and Textile Crafts. Additional supervision expertise will be considered on a case-by-case basis and where this is appropriate.

Entry requirements

Entrants must have a Bachelors and a Masters Degree in a subject area relevant to the PhD research. 

How to apply

Anyone interested in applying for this PhD opportunity is welcome to send draft proposals of circa 1,500 words (excluding a bibliography) directly to Dr. Marco Bohr for feedback and guidance. Under clear headings or subheadings, the proposal needs to contain the following information: the proposed title of the project, the research area, the research question(s) to be investigated including an explanation of why the proposed research area is likely to lead to high quality research outcomes, why the research area has been chosen, the methodology, the research context including references to other work in the field, the purpose and originality of the research as well as a full bibliography.

For further guidance and to make an application, visit NTU's how to apply page. For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Marco Bohr at [Email Address Removed].

Anthropology (2) Creative Arts & Design (9) Philosophy (28) Politics & Government (30) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

This opportunity is for self-funded PhD students. Applicants are encouraged to apply for external funding and we will support this process if appropriate and when required.


BOHR, M. and SLIWINSKA, B. (eds), 2018. The Evolution of the Image: Political Action and the Digital Self, London: Routledge.
TOWNSEND, K. and SADKOWSKA, A., 2020. Re-making fashion experience: a model for ‘participatory research through clothing design’. Journal of Arts and Communities. Vol. 11:1-2, pp. 13-33. ISSN 1757-1936

TOWNSEND, K., SOLOMON, R. and BRIGGS-GOODE, A., 2020. Crafting anatomies: archives, dialogues, fabrications. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts. ISBN 9781350075474

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