Monday, June 29, 2015

Congratulations to Dr. Una Foye on her award of PhD (Summer 2015)

Dr Una Foye has successfully completed her PhD and will graduate Summer 2015. Here Una outlines her doctorate research. 

Dr Foye's PhD was supervised by Prof Diane Hazlett and Dr Pauline Irving

Understanding Eating Disorder: exploring the impact of self-esteem, emotional intelligence and health literacy on disordered eating attitudes and behaviours.

Affecting over 1.6 million people in the UK, eating disorders remain a constant concern for those working in healthcare due to the high comorbidity, debilitating physical symptomology and mortality rates that occur with these illnesses (Herzog, Greenwood, Dorer, Flores, Ekeblad, Richards, Blais & Keller, 2000). Worryingly, treatment efficacy for these disorders remains modest at best, with insufficient evidence existing for the effective treatment of Anorexia Nervosa (NICE, 2004). Successful outcomes are blighted by the high levels of ambivalence, treatment dropouts and relapse rates that are observed within this patient population (Williams & Reid, 2010). As a result these disorders observe high rates of chronicity and become incredibly difficult to treat as they are so deeply engrained (Geller, Williams & Srikameswaran, 2001).

This research study aimed to explore the application of self-esteem, emotional intelligence and health literacy to understand how and why eating disorder might develop while providing insight into how interventions can be developed to enhance outcomes.

Based on a mixed methods design which engaged professionals working with eating disorders, support staff in the community sector and individuals with personal experience, as well a general population sample, the results of the study provided insights into the nature of disordered eating onset and development as well as understanding the barriers that delay and impact on help-seeking processes and treatment engagement for those living with an eating disorder. The result showed that, while numerous factors are related to the development of disordered eating attitudes and behaviours, self-esteem and emotional intelligence interact to provide a significant explanation for how and why individuals may develop and maintain an eating disorder. Furthermore, it was found that these factors along with health literacy may provide considerable insight into the barriers and delays that impact on individual’s help-seeking processes when they are in serious medical and psychological risk.

On her time at Ulster University, Una reflects: 

'Having worked on the frontline with eating disorders in a number of regional charities I understand the impact that research like this has on everyday practice. The opportunity to carry out this project was a fantastic experience that allowed me to work closely with the fantastic staff at Ulster as well as having the opportunity to do something innovative that was born out of my personal interests. While it was difficult and challenging work it was worth the effort to see an idea develop and take flight, and if I had the change I would do it all over again! Having the chance to do something you love is a once in the lifetime opportunity and without the support and chance that Ulster took on allowing me to do this I would never have been able to go this far.'

Friday, June 26, 2015

IRiSS is delighted to congratulate Dr. Anthony McKeown on award of his PhD. 

His doctorate will be conferred in Summer Graduations 2015. 

In his thesis, Anthony established a theoretical framework which demonstrates how information poverty can be conceptualised and targeted at three levels: macro (strategic), meso (community) and micro (individual).  

A framework of information poverty indicators were developed to demonstrate how it can be addressed at societal, community and individual levels. 

The study is innovative, valuable and significant, in that, it is the first time a macro, meso and micro model of information poverty indicators has been developed and applied to illustrate the impact of public libraries at strategic, community and personal levels.  Furthermore, the research is topical given the emphasis from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) to address poverty and social exclusion.  The study provides recommendations to Libraries NI to improve their capacity to address information poverty.  While the study looks specifically at public libraries, it has wider implications and the three-level framework of information poverty indicators can be used within other contexts. 

The study revealed that an integrated approach is needed to address information poverty.  By developing strategic and community partnerships, libraries can have an impact at addressing information poverty.  Community engagement and targeted interventions to specific groups were key to addressing it.  Raising awareness of library services was fundamental to reducing information poverty. 

Anthony reflects on his time at Ulster University: 'I had a great experience taking a career break and studying at the Ulster University.  When I graduate with a PhD I will have a sense of pride and achievement, although being a PhD researcher all feels like a distant memory now that I returned to my previous role within Libraries NI.' 

Monday, June 1, 2015

IRiSS's Duncan Morrow on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland

IRiSS's Dr Duncan Morrow, Chairman for the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland, recently launched findings and recommendations of their recent study. 

Almost three years ago, the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism set out to answer two questions:  ‘What is sectarianism in Scotland now?’ and ‘How should we deal with its consequences?’  

Dr Morrow maintains that: 'What happened was one of the most wide-ranging and challenging civic explorations of any equalities issue to have taken place in Scotland.  That this was possible during a period that included the independence referendum in 2014 is a testament to the health of civic society in Scotland.'

The Advisory Group points out:

Sectarianism matters in three specific contexts:  where it is used to discriminate or exclude (establishing Glass Ceilings), where it is used to justify violence or intimidation (signified by Glass Bottles) and where it has left persistent relationships of suspicion fostering prejudice and resentment (represented by Glass Curtains). 

Dr Morrow emphasises: 

'Sectarianism still has the power to impact negatively on people’s lives.  But we have also seen a strong hunger for change across Scotland and a real desire to make sectarianism a thing of the past beyond either avoidance or blame.  With goodwill, we have a chance to build a Scotland where the ending of sectarianism is a cause for celebration not shame.'

The full report can be found here: 

Duncan's contribution has featured in the following media:

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Publication: Understanding NGO Strategies to Engage with Donor-Funded Development Projects: Reconciling and Differentiating Objectives

In his latest journal article Dr Markus Ketola considers the role of civil society actors in promoting agendas independent of donor interests.

Much of the literature on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) problematises the relationship between donors and NGOs in terms of the control the former exercise over the latter. This leaves other aspects of a rich and varied relationship relatively unexplored. The aim of this article is to highlight the agency of civil society actors to promote an agenda independent of donor interests. The reactions of Turkish NGOs to the policy agenda and financial support put forward by the European Union suggest two main motivations for NGO engagement with the process: negotiating access to material resources and participating in the politics of representation. Out of this engagement emerges a typology of four strategies labelled ‘translation’, ‘brokerage’, ‘navigation’ and ‘agonism’. These strategies reflect contrasting means of turning resources – both financial and ideopolitical – into the capacity to realise organisational objectives.

For further information email:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New Publication - War, disenfranchisement and the fall of the ancient Athenian democracy

In his latest journal article George Tridimas, Professor of Political Economy examines the fall of the ancient Athenian democracy and its impact on both the rich elites and poorer Athenians. 
The ancient Athenian democracy emerged in 508 (all dates BCE), became a dominant naval power, fought a multitude of external wars and ended in 322 after it was defeated by Macedon and was replaced by oligarchy. The paper employs a political economy framework to examine the demise of democracy. It illustrates that war was a means of redistribution, benefiting the majority of poorer Athenians at the expense of the rich elite, who bore a disproportionate burden of its cost. A model of conflict is set up to study the incentives of the poor majority to go to war. After analyzing a dynamic setting it also investigates the circumstances when after defeating Athens her enemy chooses to impose oligarchy that disenfranchises the poor. As victory at war is probabilistic it is concluded that the fall of the democracy was neither unavoidable nor inevitable.

For further information email: 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

IRiSS co-hosts Postgraduate Research Student Conference

In collaboration with the Transitional Justice Institute (Ulster) and the Centre for Post-Conflict Justice (TCD), the Institute for Research in Social Sciences hosted the  Postgraduate Research Student Conference on 'Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Peace Building'.

Attended by over 40 post-graduate researchers from across the UK, Ireland and Europe, participants were treated to three sessions that dealt with 'grass-roots peacebuilding', 'minority identities and transitional justice', and 'justice denied'.

Showcasing the scope and diversity of scholarship being conducted, the conflicts in Colombia, South Africa, Kosovo, Peru, and Northern Ireland were examined throughout the day.

The conference offered students hands-on experience of conference organising, from designing a call for papers to selecting abstracts and chairing sessions.

It also brought together graduate students to present their work to one another, create supportive early-career networks, and obtain feedback from established academics in their field through expert feedback. 

The stimulating sessions were concluded with the première screening of 'A Land Between'.

The day went off without a hitch, courtesy of the post-graduate conference organising committee which included doctoral students from Ulster University, Queens University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin.

A special thanks also goes to the Social Science Research Graduate School for sponsoring the lunch and refreshments.