Centre for Innovation and Research in Wellbeing

Research and knowledge exchange

Key research themes

Ageing and Wellbeing

The world’s population is ageing as life expectancies rise and mortality rates fall. This demographic trend brings many challenges, not least in the areas of dementia, and wellbeing among the elderly and their carers. The work undertaken within this cluster will naturally expand upon the ‘Children and Wellbeing’ cluster by researching into older adulthood.  Ageing research is represented at multiple sites across the Sussex campus, providing an environment that is interdisciplinary and intercultural by design, and which combines mixed methodologies for data gathering and evaluation. Grant capture will build on existing synergies between work in Social Work, Psychology and the Medical School and oriented towards integrating multilevel perspectives, exploring bio-psychosocial moderators of wellbeing at the individual and family level and their match with current policy and practice. There will be a focus on older adults, with an awareness of the under-researched middle-aged (40+ year old) population. 

Children and Wellbeing

We have a research partnership with the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth and the Rudd Centre for Adoption Research and Practice. Utilising an interdisciplinary and inter-cultural research framework, research will focus on the interplay between early family, school and community influences underpinning wellbeing pathways for children and adolescents.  The objective will be to promote knowledge for practitioners, policy makers, educators and health professionals that improve outcomes for children and families.  Research that illuminates the mechanisms underlying individual differences in wellbeing trajectories is therefore essential if we are to facilitate the next generation of prevention-intervention initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable wellbeing across the lifespan.

Migration and Wellbeing

Our contemporary world has been characterized as living through an age of migration, with an unprecedented number and diversity of people on the move around the world. A key concern in this era of globalisation and mass migration is to understand how cultural interactions between migrant minority groups and ‘host’ majority groups can be managed to maintain social cohesion and maximise peoples’ wellbeing. The term migrant does scant justice to the range of people or the challenges faced by people leaving their home countries to make new lives elsewhere. Migrants’ wellbeing is crucially influenced by the circumstances in which they leave their home countries and try to resettle. This cluster will explore the dynamics of migration in the contemporary world and implications for migrants’ wellbeing and for the development of health and welfare receiving societies and explore their implications for research.

Cultural and Collective Sources of Wellbeing

This cluster researches two important sources of wellbeing: prevailing societal values and the groups with which people identify and in which they participate. Social Identity is the unifying construct.

Spirituality, Place and Wellbeing

International measurements have often placed emphasis on the economic and social determinants of wellbeing. However, recent formulations have emphasized the contribution and importance of religiosity, spirituality and place to wellbeing. These aspects are often interrelated as ‘place’ is frequently imbued with spiritual and religious significance, and damage to the environment may be seen as destroying systems of meaning that interpenetrate with cultural and religious values. Populations who have been forcefully removed from their natural habitats often lose a sense of meaning and direction which can have dramatic consequences for their mental and physical wellbeing. Churches and other religious buildings are centres of both religious practices and social connectedness, and membership of religious organizations can be seen as an important component in generating social capital. In turn, the development and maintenance of social capital is seen as a vital component of wellbeing. This cluster focuses on grant capture oriented towards examining the interrelationships between spirituality, place and wellbeing through four international research projects on distinct communities.

Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing

Robust physical and mental health underpins optimal wellbeing and functioning.  People flourish in environments that nurture, bolster and sustain their health.  Yet many people suffer periods of ill health that undermine their wellbeing.  Preventing or remediating such health problems is a central concern of the researchers engaged in this element of the proposed Centre’s work and would be a core element in proposals for research funding.   Consistent with the aims of the Centre, the hallmark of this approach will be the adoption of innovative approaches to understanding and remediation that are both interdisciplinary and intercultural.  This cluster brings together a group of social scientists with established reputations for research that contributes to two interlinked themes: (1) developing, evaluating and implementing innovative low-cost interventions to foster physical health, mental health and wellbeing and; (2) understanding the processes by which wellbeing is fostered and maintained psychologically, socially and cross-culturally.

Death and Dying

Death is the inevitable partner of life, and its impact on the wellbeing of those who know or work with the dying is not always well supported. Research and events from within the Death and Dying cluster will explore both the professional and the personal impact of death, drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives from colleagues across the University.