Website for the research on resilience, grit, and self-efficacy narratives in Higher Education

The website for the  Being-Human funded research project into resilience, grit, and self-efficacy narratives in Higher Education is now live at

You can see some of the blogging we did, as we began to work out the ideas in this project here.


When the Rain Stops Falling – a multimedia theatre project

Work has  started on our multimedia  production of Andrew Bovell’s  epic postmodern play, When the Rain Stops Falling  –  a 2017 Being Human Award project.

At our  first Research and Development weekend  Liz Swift, Simon Turner and  Tim Newton met with  practitioners  from Red Dog theatre company to explore  how multiple video projections and soundscapes  can  be  used in  creating  an immersive interpretation of this  contemporary Australian play.

We  are  currently  experimenting with using moving projections and  shadows to capture  the Australian landscape  and some  extreme  climate conditions  —- the play is  partly  set in a future Alice Springs where the  weather alternates between rain and  snow!  We  are exploring various techniques to  make the  audiences feel that they are  at the centre of the  story and  immersed  by its  various environments.  The piece  will  be  performed  by a company of seven actors  and  will  tour the UK in Autumn.  A  work in progress showing  sections of the play will be presented at Oxstalls on Friday April 6th and  anyone interested in coming along  to  see it  should contact Liz for more details on

Hidden Narratives conference, 11th July 2017

Thank you to everyone who supported our conference on 11th July by presenting research, attending, asking questions, offering help and advice, booking and preparing rooms and providing food and drink.  We have had very encouraging feedback that suggests people had an enjoyable and interesting day, and have shared a few photos below.Conference photo collage 2

“Stories in the background” – Dr Kayleigh Moore talks about her presentation for the Hidden Narratives conference

Kayleigh photo

With just three days to go to our conference, Dr Kayleigh Moore talked to Dr Duncan Dicks about her presentation, Creative Transgression.   In this short video, you can listen to Kayleigh talking about her interpretation of the Hidden Narratives theme of the conference, the relevance of her own experience of doing a PhD, and the other talks she is most looking forward to on Tuesday.

The last few tickets for the conference will be available free from Eventbrite until Sunday evening.

“Make space for Shakespeare” – Dr Paul Innes discusses his talk for the Hidden Narratives conference

Paul Innes

Our one-day mini conference titled Being Human: How Hidden Narratives Challenge Authority is just a few days away.   The day will include two keynote speakers, nine short presentations from researchers and opportunities for questions.

In this short video, you can hear Dr Paul Innes chatting to one of the conference organisers about his talk.  His presentation will consider how Shakespeare attained the status of national poet, and the implications for some of the other great poets who were marginalised to make way for Shakespeare.

We have made additional tickets available for the conference, but please book soon to be sure of a place.  Tickets can be ordered free of charge from Eventbrite, and include refreshments and lunch.

#ResistResilience – a talk by Dave Webster and Nikki Rivers at the Hidden Narratives conference

sk2Duncan Dicks met up with two of our presenters for the Hidden Narratives conference on 11th July, to find out how they are planning to challenge the current enthusiasm for “resilience” in education and life.



Who are you?

Dave Webster – I teach Religion, Philosophy & Ethics, as well as working for the Academic Development Unit, where I am interested in the interplay between what and how we teach.

 Nikki Rivers – I teach English Literature. My main areas of interest are contemporary literature, popular culture and feminist theory.

What are you going to be talking about?

We hope to introduce a note of much-needed scepticism into conversations around ‘resilience’, and ‘grit,’ particularly with regard to the assumption that these are characteristics we should be instilling in our students and ourselves. Instead we want to look more broadly at external factors that might contribute to the need for resilience.

What other talks at the conference are you looking forward to (and why)?

Martin’s Anarchy is guaranteed to be good value…

What single thing would you like the audience to take away with them from your talk?

#ResistResilience – don’t be seduced by neoliberal assertions that you need ‘grit’, and that your struggles are your fault, when what is needed is systemic change.

Creativity in a totalitarian society – a talk by Senja Andrejevic-Bullock at the Hidden Narratives conference

Organiser Duncan Dicks recently met up with one of our presenters to find out more about her conference talk planned for 11th July.

Senja photo

Who are you?

I’m Senja Andrejevic-Bullock, writer and playwright, Lecturer in Dramatic Writing.

What are you going to be talking about?

I’ll be talking about what effect the regime of a totalitarian society might have on the citizen’s creativity.

What other talks at the conference are you looking forward to (and why)?

Very much looking forward to Martin Randall’s ‘Anarchy’ (because it’s such an interesting topic and I love it’s relationship to the whole idea of a hidden narrative). But also, virtually, all of the rest. All the talks sound fascinating and it’s going to be a mega-interesting day.

What single thing would you like the audience to take away with them from your talk?

Former Yugoslavia was a very unique country, in both its best and worst aspects. I don’t think there’ll ever again be a place quite like it. It’s greatest strength, however, were its citizens, who always had the most remarkable spirit of resistance not just against a foreign occupier (Germany) but also against its own internal repressive forces.

“It’s not as simple as it looks” – what to expect at the Hidden Narratives conference

Dr David Webster and Duncan Dicks in conversation

A one-day mini conference titled Being Human: How Hidden Narratives Challenge Authority has been organised by postgraduate research students at the University of Gloucestershire on 11th July 2017.   The day will include two keynote speakers, nine short presentations from researchers and opportunities for questions.

In this short video, you can listen to Dr David Webster in conversation with one of the conference organisers, discussing his introductory talk, The Curious Case of Social Media. His presentation will consider the discourses around social media, make comparisons with traditional journalistic approaches and assess the potential of social media to be subverted and appropriated by those in power.  Other talks in the programme will reflect contributors’ interest in how we challenge authority powerfully and constructively.

Tickets for the conference are still available free of charge from Eventbrite, and include refreshments and lunch.



Dr Wendy Russell, Tom Williams, Dr Stuart Lester, Hilary Smith, Dr Malcolm MacLean


The project ‘Sharing memories of adventure play’, which was part-funded by the Being Human Research Priority Area at the University of Gloucestershire, held a film premiere and exhibition event on 27 January which was attended by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor/Sheriff of Gloucester.

The project worked with adventure playgrounds in Bristol and Gloucester to gather memories of those involved as children, staff, families and communities, over their history, in order to explore their value. It drew on concepts from post-qualitative research methodologies, memory studies, geography, philosophy and policy, developing a ‘critical cartography’ approach as a different way of articulating the value of adventure playgrounds in ways that can be used to inform future policy. There is plenty of evidence showing the benefits of play for children, less showing the benefits of play provision. What does exist tends to show the instrumental value of adventure playgrounds and playwork in terms of its capacity to address social policy concerns such as reducing physical inactivity and obesity, crime reduction, or community cohesion.  These are important, and at the same time the desire to show measurable benefits in this way obscures other ways of expressing value. We used performative, creative and non-representational methods, both in terms of process (data co-production and analysis) and artifacts (artists’ drawings, video, exhibition). Our approach to working with memory was to see it as always relational, emerging in an ever-changing form from an embodied and embedded relationship with the world. Minds and bodies are always mixed up in a tangled web of connections and disconnections: places, feelings, histories, the here-and-now, other people, material objects and so on.

These methods brought to the fore the singular and rich stories that showed just how much these spaces mattered to people as spaces for play and for being a little different in and with the world and much more besides. What many people also talked about was how safe they felt there, how they could be themselves, how the adults were accepting and caring. What emerged from the stories were the rhythms, moods, habits, rituals and routines that enabled children and adults to navigate and negotiate their way through the playground and keep a playful atmosphere alive.

Film, exhibition and short report:

We held events at each of the playgrounds and recorded these using video, audio and the work of artists. From these we have produced a film, an exhibition, launched at an event at the University of Gloucestershire on 27 January 2017, attended by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor/Sheriff of Gloucester. There is also a short report.

For more information, visit here

Lower High Street Project

From Professor Melanie Ilic. The History staff team is pleased to announce that it has been successful in securing two internal grants to undertake research focusing on the history of Cheltenham’s Lower High Street, near FCH campus. University-wide LIFT (Learning Innovation for Tomorrow) money will be used to support Level 5 group project work, and funds from the Being Human Research Priority Area will be used to run a parallel series of staff and postgraduate projects.

captureHistory’s new Lower High Street (LHS) project explores what it means to ‘Be Human’ through the provision of primary documents-based historical, social and cultural analyses of the Cheltenham Lower High Street commercial and residential communities, its buildings and landscapes, and by offering digital capture of the memories of local residents and traders alongside a photo archive. It explores the construction of multiple and sometimes conflicting identities through the examination of historical and contemporary everyday aspects of the lives of LHS traders and residents; and, through oral interviews and online surveys, the subjective responses of the local communities to the changes they have experienced and that are being proposed in the LHS area. It will also examine the ways in which local town planning endeavours have been received and responded to by residents and traders in the LHS area, and the impact that town planning has had on the historical makeup of the local built environment. The project also examines the construction, maintenance and persistence of a sense of distinction and ‘difference’ amongst local residents and traders in the LHS.

To discover more about the project please see