Dr Michael Leyshon
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography
Peter Lanyon A88
Peter Lanyon Building, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Treliever Road, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK
Office hours: My Office Hours this week are: Monday at 9am Wednesday at 9am
My Office Hours this week are:
Monday at 9am
Wednesday at 9am
Michael Leyshon is a social geographer and his research explores how third sector agencies and small businesses innovate to produce social change. In particular his work seeks to ground place-based person-centred approaches in a variety of locations, practices and performances, by focusing on issues relating to care in the countryside, young people and rurality, and business adaptation to climate change.
Michael worked previously at Gloucester Constabulary as a researcher before moving to the University of Exeter to undertake a PhD in Geography on ‘Youth Identity, Culture and Marginalisation in the Countryside’. He has since worked at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Geography and Environmental Science, at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall. He is the Co-founder and Co-Director of the Social Innovation Group at the University of Exeter, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers and an Associate of the Centre for Rural Policy Research, University of Exeter. He has also been a visiting International Scholar at Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, NJ, USA, Miami University, Ohio, USA and Kenyon College, Ohio, USA.
In the last ten years my work has covered three different but interconnected themes: (1) delivering social innovation especially in social care through looking at how local agencies, charities and organisations can optimise volunteering time and effort to build resilient communities; (2) innovating in care environments for and with young people; and (3) buiness network knowledges and social innovation in repsonse to climate change.
I am the Co-Director of the Social Innovation Group (Prof Catherine Leyshon, Dr Tim Walker, Dr Laura Colebrooke, Dr Shuks Esmene, Matthew Rogers, Paddy Dowling) which is a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from geography, anthropology, health research, and journalism who work in collaboration with organisations in the third sector, health and social care, restorative justice, the environment sector, local, regional and national government. Our focus is social innovation at all scales, using place-based, person-centred approaches and tools. We produce academic work, evidence and practical tools to support individuals, charities, governments, organisations and agencies – anyone interested in social innovation. Current projects include SMARTline, SMARTtenants, Living Well to Work and Citizens Journalism News Nework.
We attract funding from a variety of sources, such as the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF), National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), NHS, Cornwall Council, amongst others.
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My research focuses on the leisure lifestyles of rural youth through exploring how children and young people make sense of the world around them. My research can be divided into two main areas, identity/performativity and sustainable lifestyles. My work on identity and performativity challenges contemporary studies that serve to homogenise rural youth and position them as a passive marginal other. By focusing on the way in which rural youth identities are created, contested and recreated my research demonstrates that young people are far from being marginal or powerless and that they lead diverse lifestyles. My current work on innovation and care seeks solutions to contemporary issues faced by young people in rural communities such as finding employment, affordable housing and skills training.
Business Responses to Climate Change
Although much attention has focussed on the question of how businesses could help society mitigate climate change, little is known about how entrepreneurs communicate knowledge and reach a working consensus. I have two lines of research in this area. (1) Working with Dr Katharina Kaesehage, University of Edinburgh, we explore how entrepreneurs build a ‘commons logic’ and innovate social solution around climate change within their networks. We advise policy makers to actively support the usage of those mechanisms to help networks create more alternative institutions. (2) Working alongside Dr Shuks Esmene and Dr Timothy Taylor, Medical School University of Exeter, we explore how new innovative scientific knowledges on electric vehicles and climate change are communicated to publics to create a networked response to climate adaptation and mitigation.
See my Google Scholar profile
Or my Research Gate profile
Or my Acdemia Education profilel
Research group links
My current research focuses on social innovation and the current Challenges for the Voluntary Sector. The growth in Britain’s ageing population coupled with the significant financial pressures on the NHS mean that innovative approaches are needed to deliver public services. The voluntary care sector is playing an increasingly important role in delivering these services. As the UK Governments White Paper on volunteering explained, “the voluntary and community sector is uniquely placed to reach socially isolated people and connect them to befriending services and other networks of friendship and support” (HMSO, 2012: 22). Because as we know, people are happiest and healthiest when they are active, independent, valued members of their communities, and supported by a network of family and friends. Despite potential the voluntary care sector still faces great challenges; especially around training, organising and retaining volunteers in communities.
Social Innovation Group
2018 £10k Eden project: Social Prescibing for Health and Wellbeing
2017 £20K Public Participation and the Transformation Programme (NHS)
2017 $30k The Wildlife Trust - Your Shore Beach Project
The project looks at how to promote social innovation and local engagement in the protection of marine environments through sharing knowledge with young people. Additionally, the Your Shore Beach Ranger project looks to enhance community knowledge and action through a range of activities that help people with long term health conditions improve their employability. The primary aim of the role is to carry out data collection using established tools, input and analyse the data, and to produce an annotated report for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The intern will contribute to the development of an analytical toolkit that can be used to help the Cornwall Wildlife Trust to refine their Your Shore Beach Rangers project.
2017 £64k ESIF Widening Participation through Skills – Citizen Journalists
If we live in a ‘post-truth’ then where does this leave the national/international news gathering organisations who’s cultural capital is built upon the foundations of harvesting objective truths. Time and time again throughout UK audiences have witnessed the abject failure of national/international news outlets to report and accurately predict the mood of the nation on a number of key national issues such as the UK referendum to remain or leave in the EU held on 23rd June 2016. This research asks the question, are communities within and surrounding hyper-local community media organisations able to reclaim some of the lost national news agenda for their own regions? This research will deploy iterative network design methodologies to ensure that community media organisations are informed by, maintain and in some instances improve upon their inclusive approaches towards participation and representation. This research will also supply ongoing access to technology and training for a range of rurally marginalised costal communities within Cornwall who score very highly on the indices of multiple deprivations.
2017 £5.1million ERDF SMARTline – University of Exeter collaborative project with the Medical School (Tim Taylor), Geography (Catherine and Michael Leyshon), EMPS (Stuart Townley), Business School (Gareth Shaw), Volunteer Cornwall, Cornwall Council and Coastline Housing
SMARTLINE is a research and innovation project aimed at supporting the growth of eHealth and eWellbeing of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Cornwall through the identification and support for products, processes and services that will improved the health and wellbeing of social housing tenants and build the cohesion of their communities. This is a partnership project involving the University of Exeter, Coastline Housing, Volunteer Cornwall and Cornwall Council.
2017 £1.98million ESIF SMARTtenant – University of Exeter (Catherine and Michael Leyshon), The Learning Partnership, Volunteer Cornwall, Cornwall Council and Coastline Housing
Smart Tennant focuses on vulnerable social tenants to deliver new training programmes to stabilise households and give them the confidence and skills to move towards employment and the opportunity to volunteer to support their peers in the community thus adding to the social capital of the area.
2017 £1.2million ESIF Living Well to Work – University of Exeter (Catherine and Michael Leyshon), The Learning Partnership, Cornwall Council, Volunteer Cornwall and Pentreath
Living Well for Work will deliver 12 pilots to test and evaluate innovative ways of engaging older individuals and those with mental ill health, LDD, autism, diabetes to re-engage in training and employment.
2016 £25K ESRC IAA – iTapMapping www.volunteersincommunities.org/film/
This is a collaboration between the University of Exeter (with Michael Leyshon) and Age UK and is called the TAP-MAPPING project. TAP (Transport Access People)-MAPPING offers an opportunity to accelerate innovation and realise the wider impacts of the Volunteers in Communities project run by Dr Michael Leyshon and Prof Catherine Leyshon. At an operational level TAP-MAPPING will improve existing transport management systems for volunteers through social innovation in Cornwall's community transport sector. At the sectoral level the project will establish a network of partners to produce and deliver digital solutions into the future. This will include bringing in new partners from the digital economy. TAP-MAPPPING in this sense will produce a new triangle of innovation; with the public, private and third sectors collaborating on the real world problem of community transport management
2016 £20k The Reading Agency Bibliotherapy
With Professor Paul Farrand, Dr Joanne Woodford (Clinical Education, Development and Research, Psychology) with Dr Michael Leyshon (Centre for Geography, Environment and Society). The research is a small qualitative study evaluating the attitudes and perceptions held by users of the Adult Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme available through public libraries across England. Reading Well Books on Prescription helps people to understand and manage common mental health difficulties though reading self-help book titles (https://readingagency.org.uk/adults/quick-guides/reading-well/). The scheme is endorsed by health professionals and supported by public libraries. The research will also examine the potential to involve community based volunteers in supporting people to engage and use books on the scheme and activate wider community support
2016 £15k NHS RCHT Sustainability and Transformation Plan
Research around engagement activities on the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Sustainability and Transformation Plan with Michael Leyshon (Centre for Geography, Environment and Society). This project for the NHS develops a research approach for engagement activities with a variety of different publics to help gauge their opinions on the changing structure of health care. The study is focuses on the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Sustainability and Transformation Plan.
2016 £1k Cornwall Community Fund – LifeCycleFal
Social intervention with BikeWorks Falmouth and the University of Exeter (with Michael Leyshon). This is a pilot research and practice project on the delivering of a bike mechanic course to young people in Penryn. The course develops soft and hard skills amongst young people in one of the most deprived parts of Cornwall.
2015 £1k Cornwall Community Foundation (via Volunteer Cornwall)
Small scale pilot project designed to give young people the skills they need to repair and rebuild a bicycle. Local young people will be given an opportunity to work in a professional workshop and gain the vital experience needed to gain employment as a mechanic.
Publications by category
Publications by year
External Engagement and Impact
I am a Trustee and Director of two Charities, Volunteer Cornwall <https://www.volunteercornwall.org.uk> and Positive Focus <http://www.positivefocus.org.uk>.
My teaching reflects the range and diversity of my eclectic interests in how knowledge is produced and communicated. I use a variety of teaching methods in my modules drawn from my experience of working in Higher Education for the last 20 years, from gamifying problem-solving scenarios, to the flipped classrooms where I co-produce knowledges and the curriculum with students. I am module leader (ML) on a number of undergraduate courses and I also teach on a range of other modules.
- GEO1506B - West Penwith Fieldclass
- GEO2445 - Rural Social Issues
- GEO2449 - Green Consultants
- GEO2453 - Social Innovation Consultants
Supervision / Group
- Laura Colebrooke
- Shukru Esmene
- Timothy Walker
- Kathi Kaesehage
- Eilidh Moir 2008 - 2013 'Democratising Space: Local sustainability, participatory governance and forging new community politics'
- Eilidh Moir
- Lucy Rose
- Sarah Thomson
- Tea Tverin
- Stephen Vainker