Browser does not support script.

Institute for Social Justice

Core team

The Institute for Social Justice works with staff across the whole University as well as a core team and cross-University steering group.

Staff profile

Professor Matthew Reason

Director, Institute for Social Justice

Matthew’s background is in theatre, performance and community arts where he has conducted research in a diversity of contexts including with children and with people with disabilities. He is particularly interested in participatory research that gives people agency and personal insight in research processes and of the role of the arts in social justice. He is currently working with Mind the Gap Theatre Company on an AHRC-funded project delivering inclusive community arts practice during social distancing.

Dr Vicki Pugh

Institute for Social Justice Project Manager and Researcher

Vicki's research background includes Anthropology and History of Art, and she completed a PhD in History at the University of Sheffield. Vicki has focussed on material culture and practices which link community identity, image making and landscapes. As part of her role, she will continue working on the award-winning Living Lab project, which connects students, staff and partners to ecological and climate focused issues. Vicki is passionate about student engagement and development, with a major aspect of her role facilitating events and opportunities for the York St John student body.

Raphaela Berding-Barwick

Raphaela Berding

Institute for Social Justice Project Manager and Researcher

Raphaela is currently completing a PhD in Sociology at Newcastle University, which explores issues of housing, belonging and homemaking of refugees in the North East of England. Alongside this, she has worked and volunteered in various third sector organisations in Newcastle that support forced migrants. She is interested in migration research, in particular forced displacement and lived experiences of refugees and asylum seekers from a social justice perspective.

Profile image of Catherine Heinemeyer

Dr Catherine Heinemeyer

Research Associate: Ecological Justice

Catherine Heinemeyer is a storyteller and researcher with a practice-based PhD in storytelling with adolescents, and extensive experience of both long- and short-term residencies in educational, mental health, heritage, ecological and community settings. Her doctoral research was conducted in collaboration with York Theatre Royal as an AHRC collaborative doctoral funded project. In 2022 she was appointed senior research associate to the ISJ with a focus on ecological justice and leads on the Living Lab projects.

Staff profile image of Jonathan Brown

Jonathan Brown

School of the Arts

Jonathan is a professional journalist, educator and researcher with 25 years' experience in the national media. During his time as a news editor and senior writer, Jonathan has reported on some of the most significant stories of our time.

Dr Ayla Gol

School of Humanities

Ayla is Senior Lecturer and Course Lead for Politics and International Relations. Ayla conducted their PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) before working in the Department of International Politics, at Aberystwyth University.

Dr Jenny Hall

York Business School

Jenny is a cultural geographer specialising in tourism and adventure in the context of gender, policy, sustainability, and social justice. Jenny takes an interdisciplinary approach, currently exploring the gendered nature of adventure tourism and the affective and intersectional experiences of contemporary and historical adventurers. She recently published the book 'Gender, Politics and Change in Mountaineering: Moving Mountains.'

Profile image of Charlotte Haines Lyon

Dr Charlotte Haines Lyon

School of Education, Language and Psychology

Charlotte’s background is in Youth and Community Education and she has worked with a range of charities and third sector organisations, before joining York St John, lecturing in Children, Young People and Education. A passion for disrupting power relations underpins Charlotte’s research which is currently exploring the authoritarian turn in school policy. Her PhD explored democratic parent voices in schools and democratic voice forms the basis of much of her work and research. She is developing a Democratic Methodologies Network, that whilst international in nature will have its home in the Institute for Social Justice. She is also a co-convenor of the Participatory Enquiry, Action Research and Democratic Methodologies Research Group.

A staff profile image of Mark Mierzwinski

Dr Mark Mierzwinski

Learning and Teaching Lead in Science, Technology and Health

Mark is a sociologist whose research focuses on how people socially construct social justice and social health in sport and education. He recently published a funded (£600) partnership report evaluating a community project aimed at combatting loneliness. He is particularly interested in notions of children’s ‘right to play’ and practices surrounding a ‘duty of care’. He co-authored a ‘Bullying in School Sport’ funded (£5,200) report for the Ben Cohen Stand-Up Foundation. His publications draw on ethnographic research to provide young people a voice and gain their interpretations and experiences of gender, banter and bullying within Physical Education settings. This topic area is being further pursued by Matthew Green, a PhD student within the Institute of Social Justice.

Dr Keslie Acton

Research Fellow

Kelsie is a post doctoral researcher on the ISJ's AHRC funded 'I'm Me' project that will work with learning disabled and autistic artists as peer and creative researchers to explore questions of identity, representation and voice. Kelsie's background is in theatre, dance and disability culture. Her PhD investigated access intimacy and the accessibility of practices of timing in integrated dance rehearsals. She has also published on plain language and was the plain language translator for McSweeney's 'The Audio Issue' and Alice Wong's 'Year of the Tiger.'

Staff profile image of Jo Gibson

Dr Jo Gibson

Institute for Social Justice Research Fellow

Jo's background is in community music and music education where she has led collaborative music making projects and conducted research with children and adults in UK educational, community centre and recovery programme settings. She is interested in performing arts for social justice and practice research, with particular focus on the ethics of making together, agency and cultural democracy.