Our Research

Our Research

Browse our current and past research projects

Led by Dr Stephen Jacobs 

This research is a case study of the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) which has been at the forefront of the green movement in the UK since it was founded in 1974. In 2014, over 80 oral histories, and other archival material, were collected and stored in the National Library of Wales. In a time of increasing anxieties about the detrimental impact of human activity on the environment this unexplored archive provides a significant insight into the everyday aspects of the wider green movement.

Further ethnographic field work at CAT will extend and enhance the analysis of the archival material. The project is a case study of CAT which will elucidate many of the challenges faced by the broader green movement today. The research will explore the resistance to the green demand to make radical lifestyle changes to ensure a sustainable future. CAT is particularly relevant in today’s context of the increasing anxiety about the environmental devastation caused by human activity. For example, CAT’s report Zero Carbon Britain (2013) has led many local councils to consult CAT on how to reduce their carbon emissions. This research has two main objectives. The first is to identify how individuals at CAT have adapted their lifestyles in ways that they perceive as reducing the impact of everyday activity on the environment.

The second is to investigate how CAT has attempted to communicate the imperative for everybody to transform their everyday lifestyles. This project, through a close interrogation of the challenges faced by CAT, will considerably extend and enhance our understanding of the environmental movement. It will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of green movement as an everyday lived reality and enhance our understanding of how environmental concerns can be communicated to a wider public.

Led by Dr Bianca Fox - find out more here.

This investigation into loneliness in young adults living in an age of mobile and social media showed how many young people (18-24) had been affected. The study addressed the fact that little research exists into how young people live with loneliness, despite the fact that one survey conducted in 2015 found that 83% of young people feel ‘often, always or sometimes lonely’. Fox advanced the understanding of the relationship between the use of social media and loneliness and, by focusing on young people’s perceptions of the consequences of social internet use on their wellbeing, identified which social networking sites can increase or decrease loneliness in young adults and under what conditions. The study also revealed young people’s lack of digital literacy skills, including the inability to react to and report signs of cyberbullying or knowing how to manage social media in order to avoid increased exposure to negative content or destructive criticism.

A follow-up study revealed that exposure to negative experiences on social media leads to body image issues, disordered eating and loneliness in youth. Research such as this indicates that despite being seen as technologically adept, young people lack basic e-safety skills and other digital competences, as identified by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Fox’s pioneering work to address this gap in digital literacy led to the Erasmus+ funded MeLDE project and the development of a framework, toolkit and e-Platform.

The platform  which has been accessed by  educators from the UK, Greece, Germany, Romania and Mexico in order to improve their digital skills and safely adopt technology in teaching and learning but also in their personal life. The e-Platform further serves as a community forum for European teachers for the duration of the project and beyond (this means they can share experiences, ask for support, and become part of a community of teachers).