The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research into Health and Illness is the first centre/department at a Polish university with an explicit aim to do research in health humanities and the social sciences of health and illness. It was created just over a month ago, at the University of Wroclaw. It is a result of my application to create a research hub called ‘Stories of Loneliness’ under the Polish government’s IDUB (link here) excellence programme (there are seven others such centres at the University). As the bureaucratic mills turn slowly and the Centre’s webpage will not be ready for some time, I, as the Centre’s head, decided to introduce it here, on my blog.
At the moment, apart from me, there are two researchers working at the centre. Magdalena Witkowicz is a psychologist and Iga Pękala is a film studies scholar. Both are PhD students here at Wroclaw. As I run around the university trying to get all too many things (most of which I have never been aware of) off the ground, Magda and Iga are working on the projects the Centre is or will be engaged in and are preparing their own research under the auspices of the Centre.
Three other people are already associated with the Centre. One is my long-term collaborator, Justyna Ziółkowska (SWPS University). With Konrad Opaliński (University of Zielona Góra) we have already started a research project into loneliness in polar expeditions. The third one is Natalia Letki (University of Warsaw) with whom we shall be starting a project on migration in the near future.
Soon, I hope, the cetnre will have at least 3 more permanent members (possible employment till the end of 2025, it’s too early to speak of possible extensions) and, possibly a couple of more research assistants. I hope to advertise for the three posts within a month, perhaps sooner. The starting date will be as soon as possible, but I will reach to the depth of my flexibility to accommodate candidates who will be offered a position.
At least one candidate will have expertise in text-based discourse analysis, another one in qualitative research in the social sciences. The third will have expertise in number-crunching too. This is what I would like to happen – however, flexibility has become my second name. Apart from an interest in working within the remit of the Centre, I will want the candidates to have an idea of their own project to be developed in the centre. They will get resources to do so (no, it doesn’t mean I will throw money at them, they will still need to negotiate).
Please contact me (or leave a message under the post – make clear if you don’t want it to be made public) if you would like to know more.
The Centre will be researching stories of difficult, traumatic, and extreme experiences, first focusing on loneliness, often described as the ‘silent epidemic’ of the 21st century. The Centre’s aim is combining perspectives from social scientific and other disciplines, hoping not only to create new knowledge, but also to translate it into helping people deal with their difficulties. Alongside the main interest in loneliness, we shall be developing other research, as long as it falls a little bit in the broad field of health and illness. Basically, I am very keen to develop research that my co-workers are interested in and want to own it.
I do want to create a centre in which we all will have a stake and the success of one of us will be the success of us all.
As we want to do excellent research, we also want to be open to people and ideas that come from us and from others. We will be a place where all people will feel welcome and will want to spend a little, a little more or a long time.
Here is what we are already doing and/or planning to do in the immediate future. We have started a project on loneliness in polar expeditions (Konrad went to Svalbard a few weeks ago). We want to explore loneliness in migration (with Natalia) and in illness (the COVID pandemic provides interesting contexts for that). Justyna and my interests in suicide and its contexts will be developed further – particularly we are interested in narrated relationships between suicide and disability and in VSED. Magda is developing research on depression and absence from work. More and more, and more is coming.
This post is not only an ad for a new cetnre. It is also an invitation to do work together. We want to succeed, both on our own and in collaboration with others. Please do get in touch.
I have only just set up the Centre’s Twitter account: @CIRHI_UniWroc. Please, do follow us.
The Centre’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, please email me at email@example.com.