Cultural Heritage and Identity
Our work engages cultural and civic partners to unravel the complexities of cultural heritage and its relevance for identity formation. Our studies in heritage focus on the intricate interplay between heritage, placemaking, sustainability, and wellbeing. The research has a tangible impact on government policies, fosters the development of sustainable communities, and supports a diverse range of industries at regional, national, and international levels.
Inspired by Birmingham’s civic foundations and renewed commitment to a civic mission as a legacy of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, we work with a network of partners and organisations across Birmingham through our Culture Forward initiative. Culture Forward is co-designed and co-delivered with the city and cultural partners. Combining our respective strengths in education, research, engagement, and creativity, it supports increased cultural participation, representation, and creation by the diverse communities that make up Birmingham, contributing to the imperative to address inequality, marginalisation, and lack of representation in our city.
Intercultural understanding improves the policies, structures, and dispositions that help us to live well together, celebrate diversity, and encourage intercultural exchange, connection, and engagement. For many people, religion is a central part of their cultural identity, and understanding religious belief and practice is key to intercultural understanding.
The Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion (CPUR) is led by Professor Andrew Davies to enhance the public understanding of religion regionally, nationally and internationally. It works with faith communities and policymakers to develop informed agendas for social transformation, and delivers innovative, impact-driven, and internationally excellent programmes exploring the significance of religious belief and practice for public and professional life.
Communication and Expression
Communication and Expression is an area of our research that focuses on understanding and analysing various forms of communication, including verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual, plus the expression of ideas, and emotions.
Professor Jeannette Littlemore’s work on the EMMA (Exploring Multimodal Metaphor in Advertising) project explores how the global marketplace has an increasing need for companies to develop sophisticated and effective advertising strategies to compete for increased sales. To be effective, advertisements must capture the attention, and be emotionally engaging and persuasive. EMMA delves into how they can achieve these aims using verbal, visual metaphors and by packaging a mass of information into a small space or into a simple representation; be that a word or an image (metonymy). The aim of the project is to establish how the use of metaphors and metonymy in advertisements affects the speed of human understanding.
Signing Shakespeare is a powerful illustration of how creativity unlocks potential. Designed to support D/deaf young people in their study and enjoyment of Shakespeare, it began as a research project between the Royal Shakespeare Company and the University of Birmingham. Although Shakespeare is a compulsory element of the National Curriculum in England, many young people struggle to appreciate his work. Through research and consultation with D/deaf practitioners and students and teachers of the D/deaf, we identified ways in which D/deaf young people might better connect with Shakespeare, leading to the development of active, rehearsal room-based resources for the study of Macbeth, supported by a series of films performed by D/deaf actors.