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Exploring Social Responsibility with Children During the Covid-19 Pandemic


   School of Health Sciences


About the Project

This exciting PhD opportunity enables the successful applicant to explore the everyday experiences and coping strategies of children in a global pandemic. This project uses Covid-19 as a lens with which to investigate wider issues around children's participation and to explore understandings of social responsibility and the place of children in a global context.

Covid-19 pandemic created seismic disruption in the lives of children around the globe. As well as causing serious disruption to children’s education, Covid-19 severely constrained chances to socialise with friends and family, creating heavy burdens for some children, especially for those with parents at risk of severe illness.

Research by the Children’s Commissioner for England revealed that mental health was raised as a grave concern, with children reporting worries about the mental health of themselves, their friends and their families (Lennon, 2021). A large study, conducted by the NHS in 2020 found that children’s mental health needs had increased significantly, by 50% from 2017 (NHS digital, 2020). Despite the exponential rise in children seeking mental health support, current services are unable to meet the demand for service. 

This PhD proposal creates an important opportunity to learn from children about their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The project will encourage primary aged children (7-11) to reflect on the positive coping strategies that enabled them to manage during lockdown and will explore with them their views on global solutions to create better mental health and aid effective Covid-19 recovery. 

Although framed around positive coping strategies during the covid-19 pandemic, small group interviews will also ask children to reflect on bigger, global problems, such as climate change to consider how children are able to shape the world around them. 

The supervisory team is composed of Dr Katie Ellis (Lecturer in Child Wellbeing) and Dr Jill Thompson (Senior Lecturer in the Health Sciences School). We are both based in the University of Sheffield. This project offers a unique opportunity to explore a contemporary issue that is certain to have future relevance for policy and practice. This is a study with potentially much impact. 

We invite applications from students with a background in social sciences or health with a first degree (or at least a 2:1) with a good fundamental knowledge of qualitative research methods. If you would like more information about the project, please contact  

Aim: 

This project will use covid as a lens through which to explore children’s perceptions of social responsibility in a globalised world.

Research Questions: 

1.   How do children understand the meanings and implications of social responsibility? 

2.   How are children able to manage extreme social disruption and which factors promote positive coping strategies? 

3.   To what extent are children able to shape the world around them?

Entry Requirements:

Candidates must have a first or upper second class honors degree or significant research experience. (add any additional requirements here)

How to apply:

Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here: www.shef.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/apply

Please clearly state the prospective main supervisor in the respective box and select 'Health Sciences School' as the department.

Enquiries:

Interested candidates should in the first instance contact


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