6 episodes

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the European Research Council (ERC), set up by the European Commission in 2007. The ERC funds exceptional individual scientists to carry out high-risk, high-gain research at the frontiers of knowledge. Over the last decade, Oxford Social Sciences have shown an outstanding track record of attracting significant ERC funding. This event celebrated the world-leading research and researchers supported by these grants. Reflecting the diversity of social sciences research at Oxford, the programme of talks encompassed wide and varied topics. Each of the speakers is the Principal Investigator leading at least one ERC award and their TED-style talks focus on powerful ideas generated and explored by their projects. This event was hosted by Professor Roger Goodman, Head of the Social Sciences Division and Chair of the Academy of Social Sciences, and organised by the Social Sciences Division’s Research and Impact Team.

Image credit: igorstevanovic on Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/igorstevanovic

Beyond boundaries: research worth sharing Oxford University

    • Education

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the European Research Council (ERC), set up by the European Commission in 2007. The ERC funds exceptional individual scientists to carry out high-risk, high-gain research at the frontiers of knowledge. Over the last decade, Oxford Social Sciences have shown an outstanding track record of attracting significant ERC funding. This event celebrated the world-leading research and researchers supported by these grants. Reflecting the diversity of social sciences research at Oxford, the programme of talks encompassed wide and varied topics. Each of the speakers is the Principal Investigator leading at least one ERC award and their TED-style talks focus on powerful ideas generated and explored by their projects. This event was hosted by Professor Roger Goodman, Head of the Social Sciences Division and Chair of the Academy of Social Sciences, and organised by the Social Sciences Division’s Research and Impact Team.

Image credit: igorstevanovic on Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/igorstevanovic

    • video
    You know nothing about dogs, pigs or chickens!

    You know nothing about dogs, pigs or chickens!

    In Professor Greger Larson's short talk he unearths some new truths about the domestication of some familiar animal friends. This ERC project takes advantage of revolutionary genetic technologies to characterise the nuclear genomes from ancient animal remains. By combining the resolution of thousands of DNA markers with the time depth of archaeology, this project aims to address fundamental questions regarding domestication: 1) where and how many times did early animal domestication take place, and 2) when did the mutations that are known to differentiate modern domestic and wild individuals first appear, and how often were similar genes selected for across species?

    Greger is the Director of the Palaeogenomics & Bio-Archaeology Research Network and a member of the School of Archaeology where he is continuing his focus on the use of ancient DNA to study the pattern and process of domestication.

    • 8 min
    • video
    Parenting, politics and petrol bombs: trying to reduce child abuse in Africa

    Parenting, politics and petrol bombs: trying to reduce child abuse in Africa

    In her talk, Prof Lucie Cluver explores: can we really improve parent-child relationships, reduce child abuse and reduce poverty? This ERC Starting Grant,Preventing Abuse of Children in the context of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, has developed and tested a free child abuse prevention parenting programme for low and middle income countries. The project has been in close partnership with UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and USAID-PEPFAR. Lucie will report for the first time on the new findings from the final cluster Randomised Controlled Trial of 1100 children and families in 40 sites in South Africa. The programme is currently being scaled up to 90,000 families in DRC, Uganda, Lesotho, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Cameroon, the Philippines and Thailand.

    Lucie Cluver is a Professor of Child and Family Social Work, in the Centre for Evidence-Based Social Intervention in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, and an Honorary Lecturer in Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town.

    • 16 min
    • video
    Ten things you wish you didn’t know about elections (and what to do about them)

    Ten things you wish you didn’t know about elections (and what to do about them)

    In this talk, Prof Phil Howard explains how we are targeted and manipulated by social media and bots trying to influence voter behaviour. Since 2012, Professor Howard and team have been investigating the use of algorithms, automation and computational propaganda in public life. Political bots are manipulating public opinion over major social networking applications. This project enables a new team of social and information scientists to investigate the impact of automated scripts, commonly called bots, on social media. They study both the bot scripts and the people making such bots, and then work with computer scientists to improve the way we catch and stop such bots. Political actors have used bots to manipulate conversations, demobilize opposition, and generate false support on popular sites like Twitter and Facebook from the U.S. as well as Sina Weibo from China.

    Philip Howard is a professor and writer on the use of digital media for both civic engagement and social control in countries around the world. He is Professor of Internet Studies at the Oxford Internet Institute and a Professorial Fellow at Balliol College.

    • 19 min
    • video
    English landscapes and identities

    English landscapes and identities

    Prof Chris Gosden explains what his research tells us about regional developments and variations in English settlement and landscape changes over time. The English Landscapes and Identities project pulled together all the major digital sources for archaeology in England into a single database from which statistical and spatial analyses were undertaken. The project combines evidence on landscape features, such as track-ways, fields and settlements, with the distribution of certain artefact types (particularly metalwork). They looked at the period from 1500 BC when the first field systems and agricultural landscapes were set up to AD 1086 when the first reasonably detailed written account of the landscape was produced through the Domesday Book.We found marked regional variation, with the north and west of England having dispersed settlement and low levels of artifact use throughout our period of interest, whereas in the south and east larger settlements gradually developed within a denser overall population and higher levels of artifact use. Within these broad differences we also recognized smaller scale local variations in the growing and consumption of food, landscape layouts and so on, providing a multi-scalar impression of the landscape creating a kaleidoscope of similarity and difference. There was considerable continuity in landscape use in the south and east between the prehistoric and the Roman periods, but from the middle of the early medieval period onwards the landscape changed dramatically with the growth of nucleated villages, open fields and of private property. In the north and east more continuity is seen, with some sites being revisited over many centuries and even millennia maintaining a dispersed settlement pattern. The main outcomes of the project are a monograph authored by the team as a whole, an atlas combining the results of computer analysis and art work and a website, which has made the data publically available. The website can accessed at http://englaid.arch.ox.ac.uk

    Chris Gosden is Professor of European Archaeology and Professorial Fellow at Keble College. He is Director of the Institute of Archaeology.

    • 13 min
    • video
    Why immigration detention is a form of punishment

    Why immigration detention is a form of punishment

    In this talk Prof Mary Bosworth explores the daily experiences of the people held in immigration detention. Prof Bosworth's (2012 - 2017) ERC grant, ‘Subjectivity, Identity and Penal Power’, seeks to develop new methodological and intellectual tools in understanding the global and transnational reach of penal power and to revitalize the literature on subjectivity and identity in criminology. In addition to leading a series of linked empirical studies on immigration detention in the UK, France and Greece, Mary has created the interdisciplinary, international network and website Border Criminologies, which has given its name to a whole new subfield of the discipline.

    Mary Bosworth is Professor of Criminology and Fellow of St Cross College and, concurrently, Professor of Criminology at Monash University, Australia. She is Assistant Director of the Centre for Criminology and Director of Border Criminologies, an interdisciplinary research group focusing on the intersections between criminal justice and border control.

    • 11 min
    • video
    Sociogenomics – when nature meets nurture

    Sociogenomics – when nature meets nurture

    In this short talk, Professor Melinda Mills introduces her work on the role of gene and gene-environment interaction on reproductive health Sociogenome is comprehensive study of the role of genes and gene-environment (GxE) interaction on reproductive behaviour. Until now, social science research has focussed on socio-environmental explanations, largely neglecting the role of genes. Drawing from recent unprecedented advances in molecular genetics in this talk Professor Melinda Mills, principal investigator of the Sociogenome project examines whether there is a genetic component to reproductive outcomes, including age at first birth, number of children and infertility and their interaction with the social environment.

    Melinda Mills (PhD Demography) is the Nuffield Professor of Sociology. Her main research areas are currently in the area of sociogenomics (combing a social science and molecular genetic approach to the study of behavioural outcomes), with a focus on life course, fertility, partnerships and assortative mating. She joined the University of Oxford in 2014 and was previously at the University of Groningen and Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands and the University of Bielefeld, Germany. She is currently the Head of the Department of Sociology, Editor-in-Chief of the European Sociological Review, Fellow of the European Academy of Sociology, and an ESRC Executive Council Member.

    • 11 min

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