People and partners
The Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness includes a diverse group of researchers from multiple disciplines across the Sussex campus, and it has strong links with external organisations and institutions. The following people form the Steering Group:
- Prof Robin Banerjee - Founder
Robin is a Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Sussex. Robin’s research looks into children’s social and emotional functioning. He works closely with practitioners and policy makers in the areas of education and mental health. His research focusses on children’s peer relationships, and more recently also on kindness in adolescence. He is interested in how kindness manifests across different contexts, including education, public policy, healthcare, and social services. Read Robin’s thoughts on kindness in the CRESS Research Lab blog.
- Dr Gillian Sandstrom - Director
Gillian is a Senior Lecturer in the Psychology of Kindness at the University of Sussex. Gillian's research examines the barriers that prevent people from connecting. Her research has focused especially on the fears that make people worry about talking to strangers, which she views as an act of kindness.
- Dr Anne-Meike Fechter - Co-director
Anne-Meike is a Reader in Anthropology at the University of Sussex. Anne-Meike’s research aims to illuminate how processes of migration and mobility transform and are shaped by, human actors. Her most recent project, based on research funded by the Leverhulme Trust, is concerned with 'Citizen Aid'. This broadly refers to small-scale initiatives set up by individuals and aimed at supporting others; essentially, ordinary people setting up their own development projects. Read more about Anne-Meike's Citizen Aid research project.
- Dr Zahira Jaser
Zahira is a Lecturer (Management) in the Business School at the University of Sussex. Her research focuses on multilevel relationships at work. She conducts long qualitative, ethnographic studies, investigating how individuals and teams are affected by the tensions that develop when different, even contrasting interests clash in organisations. From this perspective she has studied tensions surrounding authenticity during a programme of redundancies in a large bank; exploring how authenticity manifests itself when the need for secrecy prevails. In a separate study she has studied tensions surrounding the need for transparency in communications between top managers and lower employees, and the need to respect hierarchical reporting. Zahira's concerns with kindness follow a similar inquiry line. She intends to explore how kindness happens in organisational systems dominated by hard formal processes - characterised by performance-measurement, regulatory-scrutiny, hierarchical-rules, confidentiality of information.
- Prof Michelle Lefevre
Michelle is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Sussex. Michelle’s research includes child protection, child wellbeing, and communication. Michelle is interested in where kindness might fit into the relationships that professionals build with vulnerable or at-risk children and young people. These children have often had many negative experiences in their lives that have eroded their trust in others, and they are less likely to engage with professional support and intervention.
- Dr Liz McDonnell
Liz is a Senior Lecturer (Sociology and Criminology) in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology and a co-director of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Sussex. Liz is also a associate consultant for Research Coach and over the last 3 years we have conducted a number of projects with Imperial College to develop research culture and experiences of researchers including around gender.
- Dr Karen Patterson
Karen is a Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine (Clinical and Experimental Medicine) at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Outside of her teaching and research interests, Karen is committed to promoting distinguished work experiences for doctors. Collaborating with other practicing physicians, she develops programs for (busy!) doctors to enhance team management and communication skills, and to achieve what she calls professional laminar flow.
- Prof Martin Spinelli
Martin is Professor in Podcasting and Creative Media (Media and Film) in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex. He is lead editor of the Bloomsbury Podcast Studies book series, co-author of the ground-breaking Podcasting: The Audio Media Revolution, co-host and executive producer of the podcast For Your Ears Only, and writer and executive producer on the recently released adolescent emotional well-being sci-fi podcast drama The Rez.
- Dr Catherine Will
Catherine is a Reader in the Sociology of Science and Technology (Sociology and Criminology) in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex. Her research examines social and health care organisations and technologies, drawing on Science and Technology Studies (STS) and political sociology. I am particularly interested in knowledge production - how people experiment or develop their understanding of their world - and the moments when knowledge claims are linked with the negotiation of standards or policies, but also seeks to explore situations that are more about caring and doing than knowing including political mobilisation and social action.
If you'd like to join the Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness community, join our mailing list (at the bottom of this page) to find out about our events and research.
We also have a number of doctoral student associates who have been awarded the Kindness UK Doctoral Conference Award. Find out more about our doctoral award scheme.