DRMC is this year launching an annual methods lecture in honour and memory of Professor Christine Merrell, who was a Professor of Education and Deputy Executive Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health.
This inaugural lecture will provide an overview of Professor Merrell’s research by Professor Peter Tymms, an Emeritus Professor in the School of Education at Durham University. This will be followed by a main lecture on Following (Social) Science? Methodological Challenges to Promoting Social Justice by Professor Kate Pickett, a Professor of Epidemiology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Future Health at York University.
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This is a public hybrid event: the face-to-face lecture will be streamed live online.You can tick the box during registration to request face-to-face access to the event. The number of tickets available for the face-to-face event will depend on Covid restrictions and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Professor Christine Merrell was an influential harmonising colleague and this short account of her academic life will outline of what she gave as part of her professional work.
Her first post was as a biological scientist before she studied to be a teacher at Newcastle university going on to take a masters with distinction. She then became a Research Associate, working on the PIPS project in CEM (the Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring) and she studied for her PhD on pupils with ADHD characteristics. This resulted in a very well-cited publication and membership of the relevant NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Committee; the first NICE committee to have educational representation. Her work in that area has continued with longitudinal and intervention studies, publishing with child psychiatrists and statisticians. Her other important research work included social and emotional development in young children, assessment, education standards over time and literacy development.
Christine’s last project was in Lesotho where a scheme has been set up to support teachers to help their students get the best possible start in their schools. She worked in Brazil setting up projects in Rio as well as in Russia. The projects in both of those countries are thriving. Working across the faculty she was the moving force in setting up the Durham Research Methods Centre and the links with the University of Tübingen in Germany.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, our government has consistently claimed to be “following the science” in its policies. In this lecture, focusing on causal inference in observational social science, I will explore how and why evidence from the social sciences is side-lined in policy making and explore what needs to happen to make evidence based policy making a reality.