Taking on complex societal issues using linguistics, modern languages and cultural studies
We conduct socially engaged and interdisciplinary research, deploying the tools of linguistics, modern language and cultural studies to address complex real world issues. These include war and conflict, migration, multilingualism, literacy and intercultural contact, othering and discrimination, and maintaining healthy and prosperous societies in the context of rapid social, political and technological change.
With the Department of Languages and Cultures specialising in French, Italian, German and Spanish, and English acquisition, literacy, multilingualism and professional communication in the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics, our research is inter-disciplinary and exceptionally diverse.
This expertise is evident in our interdisciplinary projects funded by major national and international research councils (AHRC, ESRC, Leverhulme, Wellcome Trust, British Council, British Academy, Wolfson Foundation, European Innovation and Technology/Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+) and our leading innovative archive-based research in literary studies and film, book cultures, publishing and translation studies.
Our division is in constant communication with a range of non-academic communities and actively contributes to international debates. Our projects include the language issues faced by non-governmental organisations and aid agencies operating in crisis zones, challenging media representations of migration, and – from an historical perspective – informing perceptions of intellectual networks and the experience of conflict.
See our latest publications in the University's institutional repository
News and events
Unpacking Health Claims: Improving the communication of health claims on food packaging is the aim of an interdisciplinary two-year research project funded by the Institute of European Innovation and Technology (EIT Food/Horizon2020) and led by Professor Rodney Jones and Dr Sylvia Jaworska. Collaborators on the project are colleagues from Agriculture and Typography and industry partners including British Nutrition Foundation, FoodMaestro, Maspex and the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. As part of the project, the research team have developed a digital platform now available in four languages, English, French, German and Polish, which helps consumers across Europe unpack the dense scientific jargon of regulated health claims and invites them to create versions of the claims that they can understand and trust, but are still scientifically accurate. Find out how to get involved.
Language for Resilience: Dr Tony Capstick's five years' research in refugee settings in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey has formed the basis for the British Council’s Language for Resilience approach which is now used to design and deliver language learning programmes with partners such as UNICEF across the world. The original report (now translated into Arabic and Spanish) led to Dr Capstick co-authoring the Futurelearn MOOC Migrants and Refugees in Education – a toolkit for teachers which has already reached over 5,000 teachers in over 200 countries. Dr Capstick also led a team of materials designers to write and pilot a comprehensive teacher development programme, including modules about psycho-social support, multilingual pedagogies and dealing with discrimination, that will be used in all conflict and post-conflict countries in which the British Council works.
Knowing the Nazis inside out: Dr Ellen Pilsworth currently explores the English-language publications and broadcasts of Germans and Austrians who fled to Britain and continued to oppose National Socialism from their position of exile. This is a three-year project funded by the British Academy and Wolfson Foundation.
Confronting hate speech: Based on a formal collaboration with Amnesty International Italy, Dr Federico Faloppa's combination of research, consultancy and public engagement is revolutionising attitudes towards hate speech in Italy and beyond. Dr Faloppa’s work has involved engagement with activists and lawyers and the establishment and coordination of Italy’s largest network of experts on hate speech and counter-narratives. He has delivered training to more than 500 journalists and media professionals in Italy and the UK, many of whom have reported reconsidering their use of language as a result. Through his appointment as an expert to various national and international organisations, including Amnesty Italy and the Council of Europe, Dr Faloppa is also helping to transform trans-European policy and practice regarding hate speech. Dr Faloppa was shortlisted for a 2019 Engagement and Impact Award for this work.