Speaking Citizens

Purple background with 'speaking' as loudhailer in blue and 'citizens' underneath

With automation set to transform the post-pandemic economy this undermines a future workforce for whom communication skills will be increasingly important. It also poses a crisis of citizenship, at a moment in which ordinary people’s voices need to be heard more than ever before.

Funded by a major grant from the AHRC, Dr Tom F. Wright (American Studies / English) is leading an interdisciplinary team to fight back against this by providing new evidence to lobby for curricular change. Tom works with Dr Hester Barron (History), Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson (Senior Research Fellow, Classics) and Dr Stuart Dunmore (Postdoc, Linguistics). At the University of Leeds, the team includes Professor Stephen Coleman (Politics) and two postdoctoral fellows.

They work closely with the English Speaking Union and Voice 21, and teachers through the University of Cambridge’s “Oracy Network” to provide evidence for policymakers in Westminster and the Department for Education.

In 2021 they submitted evidence to a report for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Political Literacy, with much more to come. During 2023, they will be rolling out findings as classroom resources and teacher training sessions. The team are preparing for a landmark conference in January 2022 featuring former Secretary of State for Education Lord David Blunkett.