An introduction to the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice from the Director, Professor Angie Hart
Imagine if we could work across whole communities to bring new opportunity and potential to people most disadvantaged by the way we run society. Imagine how children and adults facing really tough times might be equipped to change the odds that are against them. Imagine how people living in unfair circumstances might be empowered to reengage with and strengthen a supportive community.
The Centre of Resilience for Social Justice at the University of Brighton works towards these aims and more. It brings academic research directly into the places it can do the most good, working through communities of practice to embed resilient therapy and resilience patterns into daily lives.
We are a diverse community ourselves. We are academics, social workers, teachers, experts through experience and service users. We have colleagues joining us from across academia, community organisations, healthcare and the public sector. We are researchers who cross the fields of healthcare, sociology, media studies and arts practices. Some of us have multiple identities, of course, and together we have built an international reputation for work that addresses physical and mental health, social and ecological inequalities across the UK, Europe and Africa.
What do we mean by resilience and resilience research?
In the sphere of human health and society, resilience refers to the means through which we make a positive reaction to adversity. By conducting research into resilience, we discover new ways in which people can understand their own and their community's resilience, build emotional resilience and use this to make changes towards social justice.
Definitions of resilience include the sense of rebounding, of bouncing back from problems, but also confronting and changing those problems. That's why we named our social partner initiative in resilience research and impact 'Boingboing'. As we said in a publication some years ago, "By conducting resilience research we are working with whole communities in developing robust theories that bring about meaningful change. Overcoming adversity, whilst also potentially changing, or even dramatically transforming, (aspects of) that adversity." (Uniting resilience research and practice with an inequalities approach, Hart et al., 2016, p.3). Or, put even more simply, "Beating the odds, whilst also changing the odds".
We use the term ‘inequalities imagination’ to describe what is required for a practitioner to take proper account of how social, economic and health inequalities in their environment impact on child and family difficulties. Developing an inequalities imagination will support a practical understanding of how wider social forces affect the capacities of individuals to change their own lives. Through this, the communities we work with develop a mental resilience and emotional resilience which not only helps them survive but allows them to thrive by effectively transforming the adversity they face.
Follow the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice and join in with our work
We can't steer this major research towards the impact it deserves without you. We welcome groups and individuals to join us, to understand what they can do for their own communities – and then do it. On our 'Join us for study, work or visit,' you'll find ways you can join us as a member or associate, how you can take advantage of our regular news and events updates and how you can get in touch to make resilience for social justice part of your own community outlook.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Professor Angie Hart