Hallmark research project announced

By Tamara Heath

A Faculty of Business and Economics professor is the latest recipient of a prestigious Hallmark Research Initiative, designed to coordinate research efforts across the University.

The Melbourne Institute’s Professor Guyonne Kalb is set to co-chair a three-year Hallmark Research Initiative into social and economic participation.

Professor Guyonne Kalb.

As a Hallmark recipient, Professor Kalb, together with the University of Melbourne Faculty of Arts Associate Professor Belinda Hewitt, will coordinate research efforts across the University to develop understanding of how participation and engagement with social, economic and political institutions can be enabled across a lifetime.

Seven University of Melbourne faculties will be involved in the Economic and Social Participation Research Initiative (ESPRIt), which will connect researchers across the University through a range of facilitated events, enabling them to discover common interests and develop cross-unit and multi-disciplinary collaborations.

With its emphasis on social and economic participation, ESPRIt brings together researchers working on the University’s three Grand Challenges - understanding our place and purpose, fostering health and wellbeing, and supporting sustainability and resilience.

Professor Kalb, who joined the Melbourne Institute in 2001 and currently heads its Labour Economics and Social Policy Research Program, said participation in work, education, community, sporting clubs, volunteer organisations and social networks was essential for individual, family and community stability and wellbeing.

However Professor Kalb said that despite issues related to economic and social participation attracting the attention of academics across the University, until now most research efforts had happened in isolation within individual disciplines and faculties.

Having previously collaborated on a Department of Social Services review of the paid parental leave scheme, Professor Kalb and A/Professor Hewitt identified relevant research efforts from across the university for ESPRIt, grouping them into five research foci – individual, family, populations, built environment and public policy.

Cross-cutting these research foci are themes related to gender, ethnicity, discrimination, social inclusion and wellbeing.

Professor Kalb said she hoped ESPRIt would broaden and deepen existing collaborations, as well as bring together researchers who had not previously collaborated, with the aim of generating new knowledge, insights and ideas.

ESPRIt will be hosted by the Faculty of Business and Economics, and overseen by a multi-disciplinary steering committee to ensure the views of all faculties are represented.

Other faculties taking part in ESPRIt are Arts, Law, Architecture Building and Planning, Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, and Education.

Introduced in 2015, the Hallmark Research Initiatives are part of the strategic embedding of the Grand Challenges in the University’s research profile.