Wellbeing and Social Cohesion

How can we not only be happy but achieve well-being in all senses? Research is needed on many levels from the individual to broader institutions.

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Well-being is increasingly recognised internationally as a key indicator of success. Fostering well-being, and accurately measuring it, are essential for creating effective and sustainable physical and mental health and social policy. There is a need to develop diverse measures of well-being beyond economics, happiness, or life satisfaction in order to develop deeper understandings of social and cultural structures that lead to reduced levels of well-being in particular groups, communities, or regions, and to promote greater social cohesion and inclusion among members in what are increasingly diverse communities. Our research uses a variety of methods to explore improving well-being and social cohesion and inclusion, with particular attention to gender, ethnicity/race, socioeconomic status, education, and age, hence seeking to maximise well-being across the life course.

Education can transform people's lives for the better. Over the past decade, student and teacher wellbeing has emerged as a significant challenge to teachers in schools. We explore how evidence-based approaches to learning and teaching can build positive school environments to achieve both wellbeing and academic goals, with particular focus on character education, leading change, positive education, strategic planning in education, international education and wellbeing education. Our researchers are experts on issues relating to how leaders establish school cultures to enable positive learning and wellbeing environments that promote belonging, engagement and academic growth.

We also have expertise in practical and policy strategies and solutions to enhance well-being in diverse communities, particularly vulnerable ones such as Indigenous, CALD, and lower income communities. The complexities of today’s society mean that not all enjoy equal access to various resources and benefits; many people are marginalised and excluded socially and economically. Hence our researchers explore how our communities can enable well-being for all across the life course through policy reforms and practice change that emphasise social justice, social cohesion and inclusion, and community engagement. The Faculty of Arts at The University of Adelaide has particular expertise in how policies and practices associated with health, food and nutrition may serve to stigmatise or impede well-being, especially in diverse communities.

    Our key researchers in this area:

    • Professor Rachel A. Ankeny - History and philosophy. Rachel studies values and their relationship to fostering equity, diversity, and social cohesion and inclusion, particularly in relation to community engagement and policy deliberation with regard to agriculture and food.
    • Professor Faye McCallum - Head of School of Education. Faye’s research focuses on wellbeing education; attraction, retention and sustainability of teachers in rural areas; education policy and systems and initial teacher education.
    • Professor Megan Warin - Social sciences. Megan explores gender and class differences in relation to perceptions of obesity, health, and eating along with the social and cultural drivers of the resulting inequalities and policies associated with nutrition and health policies and practices.
    • Associate Professor Mathew White - Program Director, Master of Education. Mathew’s research specialities are is governance, leadership and strategic planning; wellbeing education; positive education; and international education.
    • Dr Helen Barrie - Hugo Centre. Helen’s research is on well-being and inclusion with a focus on older people, community connectedness and social networks including inter-generational family ties, ageing and migration, and age friendly communities.
    • Dr Alison Dundon - Senior Lecturer, anthropology. Alison studies well-being in a range of international settings, including with reference to sexual and gendered health and HIV/AIDS, community development and engagement with the state, and gendered and family violence including its legal and political dimensions and impacts.
    • Dr Debbie Faulkner - CHURP. Debbie investigates the housing, social, and support needs of the older population and other groups at disadvantages in the community, and the impact of housing circumstances on well-being, access, and utilisation of services and supports.
    • Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann - Linguistics. Ghil’ad assesses the correlation between language revival and improved wellbeing, mental health and social cohesion. He is an expert of revival languages and reclaims ‘Sleeping Beauty’ tongues all over the globe.

    Our research groups working in this area:

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