About the Social Futures Institute
The Social Futures Institute mission is to grow high quality research and enterprise around the theme of ‘society’ - in the widest sense, ranging from issues affecting complete societies, communities and their political organisation, and issues relevant to the individual.
We encourage and facilitate high quality publications from staff, networking and sharing good practice in research. We act as a platform and focus for collaborative research and evaluation with local authorities, voluntary sector and government bodies, together with other researchers and universities in the North East.
We run a weekly seminar research series throughout the year, and host an annual conference. For details please see
We have 70 members, academic and research staff from the School of Social Sciences & Law, Teesside University Business School, the School of Arts & Media, and the School of Health & Social Care. There are also around 50 student members.
Our research interests are wide ranging, and include the broad disciplines of psychology, sociology, criminology, law, education, youth studies, sport and exercise science, sports studies, history, and business studies. There are a substantial list of publications by members in these areas, which can be accessed through their biographies.
- to increase and grow the level of research activity around the theme of society, including increasing the number of staff who are research active and members
- to ensure that research produced is of high quality
- to produce high quality publications and applied research to contribute to and inform local, regional and national debate and policy development
- to generate research income
- to disseminate the research of the institute by establishing a seminar series, running workshops, and conferences
- to contribute to evaluation, consultancy and knowledge transfer and provide a ‘think tank’ for the development of social enterprise
- to ensure good governance of research.
Members of the Institute have substantial academic publications at national and international level, and are involved in academic research funded by various bodies including the Big Lottery Fund, the ESRC, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
There is also a considerable range of activity around applied research and social enterprise, led by Professor Tony Chapman.
The Social Futures Institute has built a strong reputation over the last six years in its applied research, evaluation, community engagement activity and policy work. Applied research has included projects for the Learning and Skills Council, Government Office for the North East, European Social Fund, Big Lottery, Children's Workforce Development Council, One NorthEast, Northern Rock Foundation and several local councils in the North East, North Yorkshire and Cumbria. Projects have covered a range of topics including community cohesion, neighbourhood renewal, worklessness, demographic ageing, labour market change, domestic violence and third sector development.
Evaluation work is an important strand of the Institute’s work and has included small community based evaluations and larger region wide and national studies. Smaller studies have included an evaluation of the Main Project, for Beverley School on the provision of an out of school social club for autistic children> Regional evaluations examples are studies on Sure Start provision, the Education Action Zone and Health Action Zone. National studies include an evaluation of Youth Achievement Foundations for the Department of Children, Families and Schools.
British Steel Archive
Community engagement activity is an important strand of the Institute’s work. A flagship project is the development of the British Steel Archive over the next few years. This well funded project involves raising community awareness of the importance of its industrial heritage and involves a wide range of community engagement activities.
Visit the British Steel Collection website
We are also committed to raising awareness of key issues facing society regionally and nationally by organising regular conferences. We've held three major international conferences - A Place to Call Home (2004), Designing Life, Sustaining Life (2006) and Health Well-being and Happiness (2008). We have attracted speakers from around the world and also major UK contributors including Polly Toynbee, Tom Shakespeare and John McCarthy.
We have also held many smaller conferences on issues ranging from Sure Start’s contribution to early years education, the role of the third sector in young people’s positive decision making, community cohesion and the built environment, domestic violence, amongst others. Sponsors for our events included Northern Rock Foundation, Northumbrian Water, Evening Gazette, Tees Valley Investment Fund, Ignite, Regeneration Exchange, Darlington Building Society, Coast and Country Housing, Association of North East Councils, Government Office for the North East and several local authorities and local Primary Care Trusts.
Finally, we are becoming more involved with policy development, particularly in the fields of young people, demographic ageing and third sector development. Members of the institute have advised on issues at government level and are regularly involved in international and national seminars on policy issues. At a regional level, members have been involved in One North East’s Worklessness Task Force, Years Ahead Demographic Ageing Task Group and the NE Voluntary and Community Sector Task Force.
We are involved with a range of local and regional standing committees on social regeneration and sustainable communities. Members of the Institute have established track records and expertise in policy surrounding neighbourhood renewal and management, crime and criminal justice, youth poverty, transitions and social exclusion, education, social cohesion, and third sector development.