At the University of Cumbria, we aim to produce research outputs, or undertake knowledge exchange programmes, that generate positive impacts on people, communities, businesses, and organisations. We do this by enabling our researchers to be embedded in industry, practice, and the professions, which, in turn, allows research findings to be rapidly applied into real world settings.
Below, we provide examples of where our research has delivered this benefit to society. These examples have been drawn from the impact case studies submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
Allied Health Professions
Improved Accuracy of Image Interpretation In Clinical Practice
Rapid advances in technology and 3D imaging have changed the radiological task. Our research focus has developed to reflect this, specifically in measuring the performance of radiologists when undertaking the interpretation of 3D datasets, and the subsequent impact on training methods and assessment, ultimately improving accuracy.
The evidence base from our work underpins clinical guidance from both the World Endoscopy Organisation and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. This guidance is used throughout the world by clinicians, radiographers, and medical physicists.
In addition, the research has a direct impact on the training and development of clinical practitioners by informing the content of all taught medical image interpretation modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Specialist tuition has been given to a national postgraduate programme, thus showing impact on the higher education sector. Within our own institution, research has informed the teaching of over 400 newly qualified radiographers, since 2014, being able to provide initial interpretations on clinical images.
Improving Occupational Therapy Training and Accreditation Standards to Benefit Patients in Secure Mental Units
‘Occupation’ refers to practical and purposeful activities for people to live independently and have a sense of identity. Our research on engagement in meaningful occupations over time has led to:
- Changes to care practice and associated clinical guidelines for the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, utilised by 550-650 occupational therapists (OTs) working in forensic settings in the UK.
- Improved outcomes for patients at a large mental health and learning disabilities NHS Trust in the North East of England (with 100 bed capacity) as well as additional resource for Occupational Therapists in this context.
- Development of research-informed local frameworks with patients and practitioners at an NHS Trust in the North West of England (with 370 bed capacity), now implemented on two wards.
- Influenced Occupational Therapy education on an international scale.
- Increased understanding and awareness of the meaning of occupation, prompting practitioners to ask patients ‘why they do things’ and involve them more proactively in their care.
Lead Academic: Associate Professor Karen Morris.
Geography & Environmental Sciences
Rewilding and Species Reintroduction Research Shapes Global Policy and Local Conservation Programmes
In a context of increasing nature depletion, our research is benefitting nature and people by informing the regulation and implementation of species restoration and reintroduction programmes, as well as international approaches to ‘rewilding’. At the local level, it has been used to make decisions on UK reintroductions of the lynx and beaver, and to implement species reintroduction and community engagement programmes for some of the UK’s most deprived communities.
At the global level, it has underpinned rewilding policy at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and prompted the organisation to issue new definitions, guidelines, and standards. These will support the international conservation community to use rewilding strategies as means of addressing global declines in biodiversity and reconnecting people with nature.
Lead Academic: Professor Ian Convery.
Conserving Marine Mammals and their Habitat Through Better Understanding of their Behaviour and the Effect of Noise Pollution
Through Associate Professor Volker Deecke, the University of Cumbria is involved in national and international collaborative research on the behaviour, ecology, and communication of marine mammals, particularly focused on resolving conservation issues related to the effect of underwater noise on marine mammal behaviour.
This research has influenced government policy by informing endangered species legislation and guidance in Canada, Iceland, the USA, and the UK. This includes research leading to a 67% increase in size of designated critical habitat for endangered killer whales in Canadian waters. The research has also influenced stakeholder behaviour by informing best practice regarding marine mammal research and raising public awareness.
Lead Academic: Associate Professor Volker Deecke.
Business & Management
Currency Innovation Research Shapes Global Policy and Local Enterprise
Our research is informing both the development and the regulation of new currencies to alleviate social and environmental challenges. At the local level, it supported the non-governmental organisation Grassroots Economics to improve the lives of thousands of the poorest people in Kenya by expanding new currencies that facilitate their livelihoods. This included launching currencies in 44 other poor communities, further reducing poverty.
At the global level, the research has explained the promise and limitations of currency innovation, influencing a United Nations (UN) agency to adopt the topic within its regulatory guidance to help countries to write their laws. This included exploring policy options with UN member states at the World Investment Forum, the largest gathering of trade officials in the world.
Lead Academic: Professor Jem Bendell.
Influencing and Shaping Public Policies to Benefit Local and Regional Economies
The Centre for Regional Economic Development (CRED) has conducted research on spatial patterns of economic development and the effectiveness of policies designed to correct unequal performance at various scales. Research has been conducted on the design and effectiveness of business support in peripheral regions and the relatively poor performance of the rural economy in the north of England and the Anglo-Scottish Borderlands. CRED research has contributed significantly to the evidence-base used to support the Borderlands Growth Deal, the Local Industrial Strategy for Cumbria, and strategies to address worklessness in West Cumbria.
At the European level, research on variations in research and innovation performance has been used by the European Commission to identify target countries for programmes under Horizon Europe designed to reduce innovation divides across the European Union. The findings have influenced decisions on the allocation of funding between Member States to support research development under Horizon Europe 2021-2027.
Social Work & Social Policy
Working with Victims, Service Users, and Service Providers to Improve Men’s Experiences of Domestic Violence
Our research on male victims of domestic violence has raised awareness and improved understanding of men’s experiences. It has challenged accepted practice and public perceptions that women are primarily victims; elevating the experience of male victims to inform legislation, governmental policies, and service provision.
Furthermore, the research has impacted directly on male victims, leading to an increased number of men seeking support, stimulating new recognition of the issue and empowering individual efforts to raise awareness. National and international media recognition linked to the research evidences the ways in which male victims are entering the public discourse around domestic violence. This has an inevitable impact of raising the profile of men’s experiences, and therefore, the support provided.
Lead Academic: Dr Elizabeth Bates.
Research on Adopting ‘Teleswallowing’ and ‘Fetal Telemedicine’ has Improved Patient Access to Specialist Services
Research undertaken by Bidmead and Marshall at the University of Cumbria (UOC) facilitated adoption of two telemedicine services (remote clinical consultations via video) at several NHS Trusts. The research developed a methodology to understand stakeholder engagement with digital innovations and overcome barriers to adoption.
Teleswallowing fast-tracks assessment and treatment for patients with dysphagia (swallowing problems). The service was adopted by Blackpool NHS Foundation Trust, a provider to 445,000 residents, and later by two other providers: Isle of Wight NHS Trust (140,000 residents) and Hobbs Rehabilitation (specialist service across the south of England). NHS England recommended Teleswallowing as the default approach for swallowing assessments under the Covid-19 control measures in April 2020.
Fetal Telemedicine enables remote, shared consultations for fetal ultrasound. Its adoption facilitates local access to specialist expertise for pregnant women and staff in North Cumbria, serving a population of 500,000 people. Fetal Telemedicine was adopted by the collaborating Trusts and the service extended to another rural hospital, improving services for patients.
The Impact of Research on Residential Experiences Effecting Change in Outdoor Learning Policy and Practice
Our research has identified the key social and cognitive outcomes of residential experiences. It has led directly to policy development for high quality residential experiences in the outdoors by national organisations and international government departments; embedded and extended provision of residential experiences for children and young people across an increased range of providers; and, enhanced provision of support for national and international practitioners on best practice in outdoor learning.
The impact of this research is on policy and practice in outdoor learning for education providers, children and young people in the UK, Taiwan, and Singapore.
Making Educational Practice Equitable: Challenging Stakeholders’ Attitudes Towards Promoting Fundamental British Values and Prevent Strategy
Our collaborative research revealed the negative effects of the current UK Counter terrorism legislation on education and challenged stakeholders’ understanding of how the Prevent Strategy (PS) and the promotion of Fundamental British values (FBV) in educational settings has been counterproductive – stigmatising and silencing the Muslim community and fuelling dangerous nationalistic and racist attitudes.
The research influenced teacher educators, student, and classroom teachers to re appraise and/or change established thought, policy, and practice in regard to FBV/PS. A review commissioned by an independent government committee has utilised the research to make recommendations that FBV/PS is divisive and counter-productive and that the teaching of FBVs in school should be reviewed. Finally, community and County Council leaders have utilised the research to consider how PS and FBV might not serve the best interests of the communities they serve.
Lead Academic: Professor Sally Elton-Chalcraft.
Art & Design
Cumbrian Alchemy: The Influence of Art Practices on the Management of Nuclear Sites and Development of Nuclear Markers to Warn Future Civilizations
The collaborative art project Cumbrian Alchemy (CA) has influenced the discourses surrounding Nuclear Cultures/Nuclear Anthropocene, highlighting the role and contribution of art practices to the management of nuclear sites and in developing suitable markers to warn civilizations about nuclear waste (potentially thousands of years in the future). This has included CA contributing to guidance issued by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) to reduce inadvertent human intrusion of nuclear repositories and to support future society to make informed decisions about these sites after closure (NEA members account for 85% of global nuclear capacity).
Further, CA has influenced nuclear practice and discourse in Cumbria (the site of the UK’s first nuclear power station), and through public engagement, has increased understanding around nuclear cultures and enhanced cultural preservation of artefacts, folklore, and myths. Selection in the Arts Catalyst funded Perpetual Uncertainty programme, enabled CA to tour in Sweden and Belgium reaching 187,112 exhibition visitors and 11,182 through engagement/outreach.
Lead Academic: Professor Robert Williams.
Using Art to Influence, Benefit, and Inform Conflicts in Human and Non-Human Interaction, and Efforts to Conserve Species
By focusing their work on the plight of two indigenous, endangered species in the Grand Canyon, Arizona, the ‘Humpback Chub’ and the ‘California Condor’, Professor Mark Wilson’s contemporary arts practice, in the project ‘Trout Fishing in America & other stories’ (TFIAOS), has:
- Generated new, co-produced films, exhibitions, and artworks to facilitate policy debate and dialogue amongst international decision makers at the UN;
- Increased public awareness of environmental concerns, via exhibitions in Arizona, Iceland, and Miami, and through creative practice and storytelling;
- enabled conservationists to consider their work in a new way and to utilise arts practice in other conservation efforts;
- influenced creative practice on issues of environmental concern.
Lead Academic: Professor Mark Wilson.