My background is in urban geography, but I have been working in the area of health and health promotion for nearly 25 years, coming to it through the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities Project. I bring a wealth of experience from working in the United Kingdom (UK) and many other countries, including Sweden, Mexico and Kyrgyzstan.
For me, health is an ecological or holistic positive concept and requires appropriate approaches to research if we are truly to understand how to promote it at the individual, community and policy levels. I am committed to participatory action research (PAR) based on an ecological world view and a principles driven approach to research and knowledge development.
This means working with people rather than on them and an eclectic and pragmatic approach to research methods, but with an interest in participatory methods, including visual methods and storytelling. More particularly, it means seeing learning, research/theory and action not as separate entities, but integrated processes of reflexive knowledge development in which all forms of knowledge are valued but also questioned.
To support this, I work with international partners to coordinate both the International Collaboration on Participatory Health Research (ICPHR) and the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN).
Over the last 15 years, I have been at the forefront of the development of participatory evaluation in the field of health promotion and health system intervention. In addition, I have led many different evaluation studies in many different contexts and countries. All have involved stakeholders directly in the process including citizens themselves not only practitioners and decision makers.
In Kristianstad, Sweden, I set up the first community-university research partnership using action research approaches which involved six municipalities and the regional government in collaboration with the local university.
In recent years, I have returned to my roots in human ecology and am looking at the relationship between ecological sustainability, healthy choices and equity.
Much of my work in the past has focused on children and young people and smoking through the Liverpool Longitudinal Study on children’s beliefs and attitudes to smoking, which I co-led from 1994 until 2007. However, smoking is not my primary interest. Rather, I am interested in the ways people (including children) and communities make sense of health and its promotion in their daily lives and everyday settings.
MA (Health Service Studies), Nuffield Institute for Health, Leeds University, UK, 1990
PhD, School of Geography, Leeds University, UK, 1979
BA (Honours), School of Geography, Leeds University, UK, 1973
Visiting Professor, Kristianstad University Sweden; Region Government of Skania, Sweden, 2003-2009
Visiting Professor, Social Science Research Centre Berlin; WZB Berlin, 2009
Fellow of Royal Geographical Society, Royal Geographical Society, 1983