University of Stirling Research Themes

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University of Stirling Research Themes

Our Research

Our groundbreaking, interdisciplinary research makes a difference to society and has a positive impact on communities worldwide.

Three major themes are illustrative of our excellent, world-leading research: Living Well; Global Security and Resilience; and Cultures, Communities and Society.

Living Well

Our Living Well experts are drawn from across many different subject areas, including sports science, psychology, marketing, economics and health to look at improving global wellbeing – allowing people to maintain, attain or regain good health.

Major research projects include exploring the impact of alcohol licensing and tobacco plain packaging, establishing how to help people live well with dementia and ensuring the best nursing and cancer care is delivered to patients.

Global Security and Resilience

Our expertise in Global Security and Resilience spans a wide range of academic subjects and perspectives, but has the common goal of tackling the challenge of providing the world’s growing population with a sustainable and secure way of living.

We explore how the world’s forests, and its flora and fauna, are evolving in response to climate change, and investigate how humans interact with the world – whether that is face-to-face in the field of international diplomacy, or digitally, within the context of cyber security. Our experts in aquaculture are helping to develop solutions to maintain sustainable and safe sources of fish – creating new, innovative ways of feeding global communities.

Cultures, Communities and Society

Nothing exists in isolation from the rest of the world, and studying and researching subjects in their wider context is at the heart of our thematic area of Cultures, Communities and Society. Bringing together experts from social work, history and computing science, or biological and environmental sciences and media and communications, enables wider interdisciplinary investigations into how we communicate with and understand others.

By exploring the past and recognising how we can learn from it, promoting innovations in teaching, and understanding distinctive cultures and political authority, we strive to bring communities together in mutually-beneficial ways. Whether we are looking into organised crime, or searching to discover the birthplace of James I of Scotland, our research spans continents and time periods.

Research Programmes

The University has established 12 interdisciplinary research programmes alongside our overarching research themes which look to address global challenges. Our theme and programmes are the engine house of Stirling’s major strategic research activity.

Ageing and Dementia

The world’s population is living longer, presenting challenges to health and long-term care.

We conduct social, economic and health research to provide ageing research data that supports national and international study in this important area and informs policy debate. By learning with communities, we enable healthier and wealthier lives for our ageing population. Our research results in real change, that delivers support for people with dementia and their families.

Home, Housing and Community

Everyone has a fundamental right to safe and secure housing – and yet millions across the world remain homeless.

Our cutting-edge research supports quality of life and the economic and social development of communities. Our collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to research helps us fully understand people’s lived experience and make a tangible impact. Focusing on social justice, we influence the agenda for policy and practice and promote a safe and secure home for everyone.

Health and Behaviour

There is an established link between human behaviour and health.

We drive behaviour change to improve health and wellbeing. With significant evidence-based expertise from internationally renowned health and behaviour researchers, we focus on achieving a direct, positive impact on health. We embrace the full range of solutions to challenge behaviours, improving both the quality and delivery of care, understanding the mechanisms involved and informing decisions at policy-level.

Being Together

Social division, inequality and exclusion are increasing worldwide.

Our work focuses on tackling social inequality by ensuring efficient responses to new data. We leverage well-established computing and mathematical techniques applied in a new setting to promote equality, inclusion and fairness.

We combine existing research strengths in social networks, geographical analysis and big data technologies to analyse population and country-scale data sets, allowing social issues to be tackled on a global level.  For example, we can examine data on land use and transport infrastructure with information from social networks to better understand the similarities and differences between contact networks for communities in urban areas and rural areas.  In addition, we can use spatial analysis to detect patterns of inequality such as modelling health inequality and access to blue (water) and green (park, trees) space, or the correlation between dementia rates and proximity to busy roads.

Extreme Events in Science and Society

Globally, there is an increase in frequency, intensity and uncertainty in extreme events, such as hazardous weather, surge in disease prevalence, and social unrest.

We conduct interdisciplinary, responsive research with a long-term view, covering a broad range of areas from bereavement to flooding. Researching how societies and ecosystems can better respond to extreme events, we upskill those affected to equip them for the future, give communities a voice to reduce risk and vulnerabilities, and influence policy.

Environmental Change

Humankind is having a lasting influence on the earth’s landscapes, ecosystems and environments.

Population growth places increased demands on global natural resources and coincides with increasing stresses on environmental systems due to climate and land use change. Our innovative research develops socially inclusive practices for environmental protection, conservation, economic growth and social wellbeing. Our science underpins the sustainable management of the environment in order to ensure the long-term protection of ecosystem biodiversity and support the health and wellbeing of society.

Global Food Security

The global population is expected to rise from its current level of 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion, by 2050.

Building on our substantial experience in aquaculture, we seek to achieve balance between food security and biodiversity conservation. Using our international expertise in aquatic food security – as well as a combination of our social, economic and ecological research, we provide a holistic analysis of challenges at the interface between people and the environment.  Our ambition is to ensure that there is enough food for future generations.

Human Security, Conflict and Cooperation

Regional and international conflicts pose a serious threat to world stability.

We explore how conflict and co-operation work in practice in international affairs. With an emphasis on international trade, diplomacy, human rights, environmental sustainability and biodiversity, we work directly with international and Non-Governmental Organisations. We bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars whose work influences policy and diplomacy; experts from across the arts and humanities, social sciences, economics and natural sciences work together in a unique collaboration to produce excellent research.

Cultural Heritage

Preserving cultural heritage has important social, environmental and economic implications.  It is particularly vital to a society’s identity, wellbeing and progress.

Our research focuses on our global environment, its heritage and ensuring a sustainable future. Through integrated field and lab observation and analysis, we work with both communities and academics, empowering them through understanding of the importance of the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage, thereby enhancing social wellbeing.

Digital Society and Culture

Digital technologies – electronic technology that generates, stores, and processes data, such as mobiles, social media and online applications – pervade our everyday lives.

Promoting safe and sensible use of digital technology sits at the core of this programme.

We explore the way digital technologies, connectivity and innovation interact with society and culture. Our investigations focus on how digital technologies impact individuals, institutions, communities, cultures and societies, from social science as well as arts and humanities perspectives.

Contextual Learning in Humans and Machines

As technology advances, intelligent machines are gaining the ability to make increasingly sophisticated decisions to enhance lives.

Context determines a more effective decision making process. We explore the role of context in relation to human behaviour, to develop computational and machine learnings. By building more robust and transparent computing decisions to support algorithms, we can enhance machine-based decision-making and improve lives.

Mobile Cognition

Human behaviour has traditionally been examined under laboratory conditions.

This interdisciplinary programme moves psychology out of the lab to investigate and understand human behaviour. We use pioneering brain imaging technology to address real-world problems and ask questions that haven’t previously been explored. By doing so, we offer a new perspective on the prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of dementia and brain damage, ageing, rehabilitation, autism and abnormal development.