Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

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Flagship Civil Society Research Centre Enjoys Official Inauguration

Flagship Civil Society Research Centre Enjoys Official Inauguration

Cardiff University based research institute receives £10 million for social science research.

The Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) will celebrate the launch of its flagship WISERD Civil Society Research Centre on Thursday 5th February, 2015. WISERD has received funding in excess of £10 million to found a national research centrewhich will undertake a five year innovative and far-reaching research programme of policy relevant research addressing Civil Society in Wales, the UK and Internationally. This funding includes £7 million from the the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and a further £3m from Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, South Wales and Swansea Universities. WISERD Civil Society is a collaborative venture, involving researchers from across twelve UK Universities and a range of international partners.

The Centre’s programme will explore a series of policy and practice relevant themes which impact upon civil society at local, regional and national levels. These will include: education, volunteering, well-being, ageing, governance and diversity.

The launch event will take place at The Gate Arts Centre in Roath, Cardiff and will be attended by some of the world’s foremost academics, public and policy stakeholders, and civil society organisations. Speakers include: Ruth Marks (MBE), Chief Executive of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA); Rhodri Morgan, former First Minister for Wales; and Saskia Sassen, the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and Co-Chair of The Committee on Global Thought.

The Centre is committed to undertaking research on civil society in order to benefit civil society and will be working closely with a range of organisations including: the National Museum of Wales, Age Cymru, the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, and Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services.

Dr Rosie Plummer, Director of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, said:

“This centre is a terrific development and we are enthusiastic about supporting its valuable research and collaborating with it. Understanding the potential and motivations of older volunteers, and overcoming any barriers to their involvement with us, will be enormously beneficial.  At a time when the population is ageing, families are atomising, and a worryingly high proportion of young people (especially in rural areas) are not in education, employment or training, projects such as this have significant and widely important beneficial potential.”

Echoing Dr Plummer’s support, Bryan Collis, Senior Research Office at the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), said:

“The Civil Society Centre represents the biggest investment in research into volunteering, communities and voluntary activity in Wales I can remember. I hope it will result in a better understanding of the way Welsh communities work and are changing, so we, the people of Wales, can build stronger, more resilient communities. That will be essential as we face the challenges of the future. Sometimes the Welsh experience is lost in research that is UK based, so I’m looking forward to work that compares our experience and situation with other areas of the UK and beyond.”

WISERD Director Professor Ian Rees Jones welcomed the initiative, noting that:

WISERD Civil Society is built around the longstanding partnerships between academics, policy makers and civil society organisations which have been developed by WISERD over the past seven years. The Centre will aim to inform our understanding of the changing nature of civil society in the context of devolved government and processes of profound social and economic change. Because of its size and devolved government, Wales offers a unique context for studying these issues. The centre will build on existing networks of researchers who have a wide range of expertise and skills, to undertake research at national and international levels. This is indeed a unique and exciting opportunity to undertake collaborative and multidisciplinary research that is focused on contemporary features of civil society,”


For further information, please contact:

WISERD Communications Team
Telephone: 029 2087 0026


Notes to editors:

About Saskia Sassen

A renowned sociologist and author, Sassen is widely known for her works on ‘The Global City’ (Princeton University Press, 1991/2001), ‘Cities in a World Economy’ (Sage 2012), ‘A Sociology of Globalization (Sage 2012) and ‘Territory, Authority, Rights: From medieval to Global Assemblages’ (Princeton University Press 2008). Last year, Sassen was selected as one of the 100 Top Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine.



The Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) was established in 2008 to draw together and build upon the existing expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods and methodologies at the universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, South Wales and Swansea.

WISERD undertakes research and capacity building activities that facilitate the development of research infrastructure across the economic and social sciences in Wales and beyond.  The WISERD hub is based at Cardiff University.



About Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.  Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans. 

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

In 2014 Cardiff University leapt to 5th in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) based on the quality of its research, a meteoric rise that confirms its place as a world-leading university. Cardiff University has risen 17 places on the quality measure, making us the fastest rising amongst the leading research universities of the Russell Group, climbing from 22nd in 2008.




About The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government. In 2015 it celebrates its 50th anniversary.





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