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Hopes and fears about growing up: A co-produced approach to understanding young people’s lived experiences of transition to adulthood.


   School of Education

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  Prof Rebecca Lawthom, Dr Jessica Bradley  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This is an opportunity to undertake a doctorate (1 or 1+3) fully funded by the ESRC White Rose DTP. The PhD is located within the Education, Child and Youth pathway, which draws our attention to the challenge of preparing young people for an unknown future while addressing inequalities and supporting well-being. This research proposal is an opportunity to explore these pathway priorities and how they interconnect, through a collaboration between the School of Education at the University of Sheffield and Genuine Partnerships, an organisation based in Rotherham and nationally recognised for inclusive practice.

Working alongside young co-researchers approaching or just turned 18, the project will use participatory narrative inquiry and arts-informed research to develop a broad, rich understanding of their hopes and fears about adulthood.

Rotherham Genuine Partnerships have identified this age as a priority for several reasons: At the age of 18 many services for young people end, creating what the Department of Health calls a “cliff edge” (DoH 2014). It is also a time when young people are expected to make significant life-changing decisions while experiencing physical and psychological changes (Public Health England, 2019). Genuine Partnerships’ own research in 2019 identified transition to adulthood as a leading concern for young people in Rotherham.

This partnership sets a high standard for the student to working ethically and inclusively with young co-researchers. The first stage of the research will be to recruit young co-researchers, who will themselves develop the research questions, however we predict that these are likely to include:

●     What are young people’s hopes and fears about adulthood?

●     How can we build on the co-production approaches developed by the iHuman research centre to work inclusively alongside young co-researchers to ensure services are developed in response to lived experience?

●     How can the use of creative participatory approaches facilitate richer interactions and deeper understanding of the needs and experiences of those young people often excluded from conversations and findings?

●     How can research findings result in genuine change at a strategic and frontline level?

This studentship offers the dual benefits of a vibrant interdisciplinary research community, and a work placement with a breadth of opportunities for real world learning. The doctoral researcher benefits from doctoral training alongside cultural education and embeddedness in HEI and Local authority service provision. 

The 1 +3 model allows those without a recognised ERSC Masters to undertake the MA in Social Research. The student will be supported by an interdisciplinary supervisory team, with expertise in community psychology, language and literacies, arts-based methodologies. The University training is further supported through the partnership with Rotherham Genuine Partnerships, who are well placed to provide expertise in co-producing work with young people and families, as well as focussed training support.

The successful applicant will have:

-      prior experience of working with marginalised young people;

-      prior experience of working in multidisciplinary teams;

-      experience of working with young people with autism;

-      experience of working and leading creative learning environments;

-      previous experience of working in and with disadvantaged communities.

To apply send the following to [Email Address Removed]:

-      CV

-      Cover letter (2 pages) explaining why you want to do a PhD, why this PhD in particular, how you would address the key questions and your experience, both professional and academic that would support your application.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview with the supervisors and the partner organisation.


Funding Notes

The funding has been confirmed.
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