COVID-19 research on vulnerable communities proves influential

  • Date

    Tue 16 Mar 21

A publication featuring rapid responses to the impact of COVID-19 from a range of Essex experts has been recognised as influential by a panel providing evidence to government.

COVID-19, Law and Human Rights: Essex Dialogues, a 32-chapter collection featuring contributions from the School of Law, Human Rights Centre and School of Health and Social Care, has been cited in a new summary of research on the impact of COVID-19.

The summary, Rebuilding a Resilient Britain: Vulnerable Communities, looks at the relevant expert evidence in 11 Areas of Research Interest (ARIs), selected by Chief Scientific Advisors within the Government Office of Science.

The contributions of Essex experts are noted under two ARIs: “the role of local authorities in protecting vulnerable populations”; and “analysis of whether, where and how states or non-state actors use the disruption caused by the crisis to curtail minority rights or promote ideologies”.

Dr Carla Ferstman, who co-edited the Essex collection, said: “The goal of the publication was to bring together the widest possible array of scholars to think through the multiple, intersecting impacts of COVID-19, and to help frame the global research agenda. The interest in COVID-19, Law and Human Rights: Essex Dialogues has exceeded our initial expectations. It has fostered interdisciplinary research and has led to important new collaborations within academia and in numerous policy domains.”

COVID-19, Law and Human Rights: Essex Dialogues has been downloaded over 2700 times since its publication in July 2020, making it the most downloaded single publication in this period on the University’s Research Repository. The individual chapters from the publication have resulted in an additional 5500 downloads.

ARIs were developed as a result of the Nurse Review of Research Councils, which called on government departments to communicate clearly where their research objectives lie. The ARIs are an annually-updated list of priority research questions, chosen from a list of topics identified by government departments, which in turn invite academics to engage with government departments to inform policy making.

The report was produced by the Vulnerable Communities Working Group, which comprises 26 members including academics, civil servants, funders and civil society groups.

The foreword to their report notes: “Working across government and drawing from the extensive expertise of our academic community will be essential in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, to rebuild a resilient Britain.”