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New research centres join Bristol Institute of Public Affairs

19 March 2010

Three University research centres in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law (FSSL) have joined the Bristol Institute of Public Affairs (BIPA), which hosts a range of high-profile research centres and themes that draw together and foster interdisciplinary activities within and beyond the faculty.

FSSL Dean, Professor Judith Squires, and the faculty’s Research Director, Professor Wendy Larner, have welcomed the formal inclusion in BIPA of the Global Insecurities Centre, the Human Rights Implementation Centre and Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research

These centres join three other major research centres – the Centre for Market and Public Organisation, the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship and the Centre for Multilevel Modelling – in the institute. Collectively, these research centres enable Bristol researchers to address areas identified by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as major strategic challenges for social science research. These areas include Advanced Quantitative Social Science; Global Economic Performance, Policy and Management; Security, Conflict and Justice; Environment, Energy and Resilience; and Health and Wellbeing. 

The Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research is dedicated to multidisciplinary research on poverty in both the industrialised and developing world. It was recently awarded £4.3 million by the ESRC, the largest grant ever given for poverty research in the UK, for a 42-month research project entitled Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom – the 2010 Survey. Led by Professor Dave Gordon, the research project will build on earlier work including the 1999 Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey (funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) and established expertise in defining and measuring social exclusion in the faculty.

The Global Insecurities Centre fosters interdisciplinary research, networking and events in support of academic debate and policy interventions addressing the inequalities, insecurities, mobilities and new spatial frontiers of the emerging global order. It is also building new relationships between social science, science and engineering, as it has recently extended its remit into the area of environmental insecurities. The director, Professor Mark Duffield, is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Armed Violence Reduction programme. Outside of academia, he has advised a range of government departments, including the Department for International Development (DFID); non-governmental organisations such as the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, Comic Relief and Oxfam; the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF; and the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR. He was recently awarded a major ESRC/DFID grant for research on risk management and aid culture. 

The Human Rights Implementation Centre provides an international focus for developing expertise, advice and scholarship on the role of institutions – whether at national, regional or international level – in the implementation of human rights. The centre is directed by Professor Rachel Murray, who holds and directs two major grants with the Arts and Humanities Research Council: the first is to evaluate the United Nations Convention against Torture and the second examines the implementation of human rights standards and the role of soft law. The centre’s acting director, Professor Malcolm Evans, OBE, has been recently appointed to the United Nations Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture. 

Launched in 2007, BIPA aims to establish the University of Bristol as a premier UK location for research in public affairs and public policy. It also fosters high-quality innovative forums and events that bring together social scientists and external stakeholders around issues of international and national concern.

For more information, please contact Professor Wendy Larner, email

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