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Institute for Social Justice

Conversations in Social Justice

Our podcast series for the Institute for Social Justice

Headshots of speakers from the Institute for Social Justice podcast series with a sound wave across the middle

The 'Conversations in Social Justice' series seeks to animate discussion both within York St John University and more widely about the role of higher education in social justice.

Each conversation will be hosted by a different member of the York St John academic community, in conversation with invited external guests.

Latest podcast episode

Season 4, Episode 1: Men's Suicide Prevention Impact and Evaluation Project

In this episode, Sam Watling and Gary Shepherd discuss Menfullness, a men's mental health charity based in York. They discuss the charity, men's mental health and their ongoing research.

Listen to season 4, episode 1 on Spotify

Transcript - Men's Suicide Prevention Impact and Evaluation Project (docx, 40kB)

Previous episodes - Season 3

In this episode, Helen Trouille and Jan Maltby from the York St John University law school talk to Lady Hale, former President of the Supreme Court, about a number of issues in social justice, ranging from access to the legal professions for students from non-traditional backgrounds, to government proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and pass a new British Bill of Rights.

In the course of the conversation, the speakers also reflect on the heated atmosphere surrounding key cases in the Brexit process, the reporting in the print media at the time and the impact on the judiciary.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 1 on Spotify

Transcript - Reflections on current issues with Lady Hale (docx, 2.5 MB)

In this conversation, Dr Brett Heasman (Psychology, York St John), Carl Cameron (a lead peer mentor at the autism charity Matthew's Hub), and Sammy Williams (York St John researcher and member of Matthew's Hub) discuss how to do participatory research with autistic people. They discuss various definitions of autism, the historical problems arising when autistic voices have not been included, and how such challenges should be addressed.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 2 on Spotify

Transcript - Participatory Research with Autistic People (docx, 2.6 MB)

The first of 3 podcasts from the Prison Partnership Project.

In this episode, Researchers and Practitioners, Paula Clark and Jess Robson introduce to staff and students the work and research of 'On the Out' - a new sister project from the York St John Prison Partnership, which explores the gaps in creative provision in the City of York for women and girls who are at risk.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 3 on Spotify

Transcript - Prison Partnership Project: On The Out (docx, 2.5 MB)

In this podcast, On the Out researcher and practitioner, Jess Robson is joined by Rachel Conlon, senior lecturer in Theatre and Director of the York St John Prison Partnership Project.

They discuss the roots of the York St John Prison Partnership Project, the value of the arts with and for women in the criminal justice system and the benefits of prison placements for the students, participants, and prison staff. Rachel also shares her hopes for the project as it enters its 10th year.

This is the second of 3 podcasts from the Prison Partnership Project.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 4 on Spotify

Transcript - Prison Partnership Project: Art and Criminal Justice (docx, 2.5 MB)

In this final podcast from the Prison Partnership Project we hear from 2 former York St John theatre students – Jordan Towers and Maia McConnell – about how the Prison Partnership Project creates the perfect landscape for students to transition confidently into employment and professional industry roles not only with exceptional experience but also with knowledge and skills in good practice.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 5 on Spotify

Transcript - Prison Partnership Project: Prison Placements (docx, 1.3 MB)

In this podcast, York St John University PhD student Jack Hunter talks to Sophia Parker, director of Emerging Futures at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). They discuss the relationship between the imagination and social action, whether we are experiencing a crisis of imagination, and discuss examples of inspiring activism that are trying to foster radical new ways of imagining the world.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 6 on Spotify

Transcript - Social Action and the Radical Imagination (docx, 1.3 MB)

In this podcast York St John MA Media Production student Mpho Dintwa talks to Everett Ndlovu, Lecturer in Journalism. Mpho discusses the making of his award-winning documentary 'Ties that Bind.' The film, which received one of the top prizes at the Sotambe International Film Festival, tells the tale of Michael Dingake, a political activist and writer who was a fellow prisoner of Nelson Mandela in the battle against apartheid.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 7 on Spotify

Transcript - Ties that Bind: Africa's Unsung Hero (docx, 50.8 kb)

In this podcast Dr Steve Rawle and Dr Martin Hall of York St John University discuss the making of Cost of Living, a timely short film, curated from more than half a century of archive footage, that reflects on the pandemic cycles of economic boom and bust that continue to affect society.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 8 on Spotify

Transcript - Cinema and Social Justice: Cost of Living (docx, 77 kB)

In this podcast Dr Alexandra Dales of York St John University and Dr Rory Padfield, Lecturer in Sustainability and Business at the University of Leeds, discuss the role of the creative sector in communicating sustainability and climate change stories.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 9 on Spotify

Transcript - Sustainability Stories (docx, 61 kB)

In this podcast Dr Everett Ndlovu of York St John University will discuss media, democracy and social justice in Zimbabwe with activist and academic Busi Bhebhe-Ndlovu and journalist and academic Bheki Ncube.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 10 on Spotify

Transcript - Media, Democracy and Social Justice in Zimbabwe (docx, 51.3 kB)

York Central is one of the largest developments on brownfield land in the UK. Located near to York's railway station, this 45 hectare mixed use site will change the future of the city. In this podcast, Dr Tom Ratcliffe is joined by Dr Helen Graham and Phil Bixby from York Central Co-owned (YoCo). The discussion explores how YoCo, a community organisation, are putting in place a democratically created community plan for York Central to develop the site in a community-focused way that addresses housing, transport, public spaces, nature and the economy.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 11 on Spotify

Transcript - Creating Community at York Central (docx, 80.3 kB)

In this podcast, senior theatre lecturers Rachel Conlon and Jules Dorey Richmond are joined by Helen Westerman, head of local campaigns at the NSPCC. In this episode, they explore the long-standing partnership between the NSPCC and York St John University's theatre department and how their creative and collaborative projects have resonated with audiences of young people nationwide, through exploring issues of child sexual abuse and exploitation through a Theatre in Education touring play and online films and teaching resources on the NSPCC website and digital learning platform.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 12 on Spotify

Transcript - Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Through Theatre (docx, 29.2 kB)

In this second podcast about the NSPCC and York St John University theatre department partnership, Rachel Conlon and Jules Dorey Richmond discuss the It's Not Love project with Helen Westerman. They discuss how the arts can challenge domestic abuse and send positive messages to young people about healthy relationships.

Listen to season 3, episode 13 on Spotify

Transcript - Challenging domestic violence through drama (docx, 36.3 kB)

Previous episodes - Season 2

Dr Adam Stock is joined by PhD researcher Amy McCarthy and Academic Services Manager Tom Peach to discuss their Students as Researchers project which explored documented, institutional colonial histories in York St John University’s Historical Archive.

Together they explore historical pedagogy, colonial Christian Missionary work in Japan, India and Canada, and the complex implications for York St John as a social justice institution.


Transcript - Colonial Histories and Institutional Memory (docx, 1.3 MB)

If universities are founded for the common good, what is the social contract of research? In this podcast Matthew Reason, Director of the Institute for Social Justice, is joined by Dr Erinma Ochu, a transdisciplinary biologist and storyteller from the iSchool at Manchester Metropolitan University and visiting racial justice fellow at The Ada Lovelace Institute.

Their conversation explores the potential of community-university partnerships, achieving equity in research funding and the value of ‘the commons’ for knowledge exchange to rebuild social and cultural infrastructures.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 2 on Spotify

Transcript - The Social Contract of Research (docx, 2.6 MB)

Contemporary universities have been corporatised, commercialised and financialised in the name of transparency, accountability and 'value for money'. This raises serious questions about the meaning, relevance and viability of social justice within the academy today.

In this podcast, in conversation with Peter Fleming, Professor of Organisation Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, and author of Dark Academia: How Universities Die, Professor of Education, Matthew Clarke, discusses the dilemmas, contradictions and challenges confronting aspirations for social justice within the neoliberalised organisations that contemporary universities have become and asks whether there are any realistic grounds for hope and optimism today.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 3 on Spotify

Transcript - Dark Academia (docx, 2.5 MB)

Shared parental leave is a great policy that has the potential to bring about cultural change and drive gender equality. However, a key barrier to shared parental leave is the workplace support.

Discussion in this podcast is based on shared parental leave and breastfeeding practices in UK Higher Education institutions and by extension to practices in other sectors. The podcast highlights key barriers and recommendations which every employer should consider.

This podcast is chaired by Professor Esther McIntosh of York St John University, in conversation with Dr Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi and Dr Anjali Raj (both York St John), Jessica Chivers of Talent Keeper Specialist, and Emma Shepherd of Maternity Teacher Paternity Teacher Project.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 4 on Spotify

Transcript - Breastfeeding and Parental Leave (docx, 2.5 MB)

Dr Olalekan Adekola is joined by Conservation Scientist, Educator and Community organiser, Dr Salamatu Jidda-Fada to discuss her environmental conservation work and mentoring African youths to be active in global environmental governance. The discussion also explores what universities can do to support youth climate activists from the Global South.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 5 on Spotify

Transcript - Youth, Education and Environmental Activism (docx, 2.5 MB)

Professor Lee Higgins - director of the International Centre for Community Music at York St John University - is joined by music education scholar Roger Mantie from the University of Toronto in Scarborough, Canada, to discuss questions surrounding social justice and their relation to the themes of music, leisure and education.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 6 on Spotify

Transcript - Music, Leisure, Education (docx, 1.3 MB)

This podcast is hosted by Human Geography Lecturer Su Fitzpatrick in conversation with Amie Hayes and Laura Southward of York based learning support partnership Equip Your Mind. Together they discuss critical challenges for UK universities as providers for mental health support services for students; staff capacity and training; and the impact of outsourcing support services to private providers.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 7 on Spotify

Transcript - Student Mental Health and the University (docx, 2.5 MB)

Previous episodes - Season 1

York St John University Lecturer in Art and Ecological Justice Dr Cath Heinemeyer finds out more about climate justice from Thimali Kodikara, producer and presenter of the Mothers of Invention podcast (@MothersInvent), who has interviewed climate innovators and leaders from the grassroots to the top tables of global policy.

Listen to Episode 1 on Spotify

Transcript - Education and the frontlines of climate justice (docx, 2.5 MB)

Nick Rowe, Director of Converge at York St John, talks to Brendan Stone, Professor of Social Engagement and the Humanities at the University of Sheffield. Together they discuss the multiple benefits of opening up universities to work people with mental ill-health and the ways in which we all learn through our encounters with the lived experiences of other people.

Listen to Episode 2 on Spotify

Transcript - Universities social justice and mental health (docx, 2.5 MB)

Professor of Counselling Psychology at York St John University, Divine Charura, talks to Dr Jonathan Chaplin, a political theologian and a member of the divinity faculty at Cambridge University. Their discussion explores a range of matters including the role university has in activism and social justice, the qualities of a University of Sanctuary, and why it's important to engage in research and curriculum that identifies, exposes, and addresses systemic and interpersonal inequalities, injustices, and power relationships across society.

Listen to Episode 3 on Spotify

Transcript - The role and responsibility of universities (docx, 2.5 MB)

In this podcast Matthew Reason, Director of the Institute for Social Justice, talks to Jonathan P Jones of New York University about universities as spaces for activism, whether through pedagogy, mentoring, research or institutional structures.

They discuss the challenge and importance of exploring race within what are still predominantly white spaces and the importance of actively working to ensure that the future of universities is more diverse and representative.

Listen to Episode 4 on Spotify

Transcript - Activism and Race within University Teaching (docx, 35.2 kB)

In this podcast Dr Charlotte Haines Lyon, lecturer at York St John University talks to Dr Debbie Ralls of University of Manchester and Professor Kaz Stuart of University of Cumbria. 

Their conversation explores how democratic methodologies contribute to social justice and the variety of conundrums they pose. They discuss how democratic methodologies can disrupt power, research and also the academy.

Listen to Episode 5 on Spotify

Transcript - Democratic Methodologies (docx, 2.6 MB)

Dr Joan Walton, Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at York St John University, talks to Professor Hilary Bradbury, Co-Editor of The Sage Handbook of Action Research, and founder of AR+, which has the aim of making global knowledge democracy more available by supporting inter/transdisciplinary dialogue for those practising at the developmental edge of action research worldwide.

Hilary speaks about the work that she is doing to spread the practice of participatory action research, and actively encourage the involvement of marginal groups from both the global south and north.


Transcript - Participatory Action Research (docx, 2.5 MB)

Dr Helen Pleasance and Caleb Klaces, both writers and Senior Lecturers at the York Centre for Writing, York St John University, speak to Dr Lucy Burke of Manchester Metropolitan University about the role of creative writing in achieving social justice for people with dementia. They discuss the concept of ‘personhood’, the ethics of literary representations of dementia and Lucy’s recent activism in response to the UK government’s COVID-19 policies.


Transcript - Dementia, Personhood and Social Justice (docx, 2.5 MB)

We understand better than ever that the human dramas of social justice can’t be disentangled from the natural ecosystems in which they are embedded. The creative artforms of storytelling, creative writing and theatre have an important role to play in helping us to see and understand these interconnections. But how can artforms which have tended to be all about human interactions develop ways of speaking for other species? Cath Heinemeyer and Liesl King of York St John University discuss these questions with Anthony Nanson, storyteller and author of Storytelling and Ecology: empathy, enchantment and emergence in the use of oral narratives.


Transcript - Giving Voice to the Nonhuman (docx, 2.6 MB)