Walking with Women: Exploring Hidden Homelessness

ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) collaborative doctoral studentship with the Derrill Allatt Foundation and Human Story Theatre

The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing and the Department of Education are awarding a collaborative doctoral studentship, in partnership with Human Story Theatre. This doctoral research will make use of a range of participatory arts-based methods to study the lives of homeless women (or other highly marginalised groups at risk of becoming homeless, such as people with care experience), exploring the relationship between their experiences in education, broadly defined, and their lives today.

The first phase of the student’s fieldwork will include a period of background research and relationship development with the people and organisations working in both the homelessness sector and community arts in Oxford. Once they have developed clear research questions, our student will engage their study participants over a period of time, listening to their stories and visiting places particularly significant to their lives and their educational experiences. Walking as a participatory method of biographical research enables researchers and the people whose lives we wish to understand to walk together, reflecting on their knowledge, experiences, and memories in the context of the places, spaces, and sensory experiences in which they live their lives.

The project partner, Human Story Theatre, aims to harness the power of theatre to convey important messages about the issues faced by the health and social care sectors today. They encourage audiences to share experiences and to play an active part in the discussions and debate surrounding the issues faced. Over the course of the award, the student will work with Human Story Theatre to devise and evaluate literary and artistic projects using, with participants’ full and ongoing consent, elements from their narratives. These might be theatrical, musical, community projects such as creative mapping, displays of art in public places, street theatre, and working with writers and librettists to present stories in different ways. The aim of this aspect of the project is to raise awareness of the problem of unseen and unheard women, who walk perpetually, feeling unsafe if they remain in one place.

The PhD studentship will be co-funded by the Derrill Allatt Foundation and the ESRC Grand Union DTP for three years from October 2020. The student will be based in the Department of Education and Wolfson College at the University of Oxford. They will be supervised by Dr Katherine Collins and Dr David Mills from the Department of Education and supported by Gaye Poole and Amy Enticknap at the Human Story Theatre.  

Information about ESRC studentships at Oxford and eligibility can be found on the DTP’s Studentships and Eligibility pages. This studentship is open to candidates who meet ESRC residency requirements for a full award (covering fees and a stipend for living costs).

How to apply

To apply for the studentship you must submit an application to study for a DPhil in Education at the University of Oxford by midday, 24 January 2020. Details about applying can be found at: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/courses/dphil-education. Your application should include a research proposal indicating how you would engage critically with the three core elements of the project – homelessness, walking, and education – if offered the studentship. Your proposal can draw on the description of the research detailed above.

In addition you must complete a Grand Union DTP Application Form  and upload it, together with your graduate application form. Please ensure you also select 'ESRC Grand Union DTP Studentships in Social Sciences' in the University of Oxford scholarships section of the University's graduate application form.

The admissions process is in two parts: the applicant will be assessed as part of the applicant pool for the Department of Education; the selected candidate will then be assessed as part of the applicant pool for the ESRC Grand Union DTP funding.

Queries about the studentship should be addressed to: katherine.collins@education.ox.ac.uk.