Dr Donna Thomas
School of Social Work, Care and Community
Donna is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Children and Young People's Participation. With particular expertise in self, subjectivity and consciousness, Donna leads and supports research with children and young people. Donna is the module lead for MA Collaborative Research with Children and facilitates a network of young researchers.
Donna is the Primary Investigator for the 'Who am I Study': Exploring self and experience with children and has publications in Global Studies of Childhood, Journal for Children's Services and The Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Recently, Donna's presentation was awarded 'best paper' at the CEP BPS Conference (2019).
Donna was a Strategic Research Manager in a local Government setting, leading on citizen engagement, children's participation and professional training programmes (in research and engagement). Donna worked collaboratively with citizens informing policy and the development of large-scale educational reform programmes, social care sector programmes and health policy. Winning two awards for Citizen Participation. In 2013, Donna became the Director of her own research consultancy, winning commissions from Public Health Departments, Foundation Trusts, Local Governments and Universities. Donna conducted large-scale evaluation programmes around ACE programmes, School Nursing practice and policy and schools.
- PhD The Language Use of Citizens in Participatory Processes, Lancaster University, 2013
- MA Literacy & Linguistics, Lancaster University, 2002
- BA Hons English Language, Literature and Literacy Studies, 2000
- 'Best Paper' - CEP BPS Consciousness and Experiential Section, University of Sussex, 2019
- 'Innovative Practice Award', Blackburn with Darwen Council, 2010
- 'Partnership Working Award', Blackburn University, 2011
- self, subjectivity, experience, 'non-ordinary' experience, consciousness, ontology, epistemology, methodology, participation
Donna is exploring with Children, the nature of self and experience. In social research we are often asked to explore how people relate to themselves, others and the world. In qualitative work this, more-often-than-not, tends to involve collecting personal or ‘lived’ experiences of people. A spectrum of concepts is available for use by social researchers, to capture what is meant by the ‘I’ of someone’s experience. Words such as ‘identity’, ‘subject’, ‘agent, ‘ego’ and ‘person’. Ideas of ‘self’ are largely dependent upon the school of thought in which analysis and interpretation are rooted. As the orthodoxy of postmodernism becomes increasingly challenged by posthuman theories, new definitions of ‘self’ are starting to emerge. Self and subjectivity are concepts that are vital to social research. How these concepts are understood, determines to what extent individuals exercise influence over their bodies, space, and lives. As debates frame social research, concerned with ‘ethics’, ‘identity’ and ‘agency’, what is meant by the subject of experience is given little attention. Who and where is the ‘I’ that social researchers seek to understand? Donna explores with children the 'I' of experience and what 'self' is to them. The research considers a spectrum of human experience, exploring with children 'ordinary' and 'non-ordinary' experiences. With children, a range of interdisciplinary research methods are used to develop more meaningful approaches. The research is intended to inform service, system and policy development.
Use the links below to view their profiles:
- Consciousness and Experiential Research Group
- UCLan Young Researchers Network
- Who am 'I'?: Exploring self and experience with children
- Developing NICE Guidelines for Looked-After Children and Young People
- The Landscape Project
- The 'Inbetween': Exploring experiences of children and young people during the Covid Crisis
- BPS Transpersonal Section, Cardiff University, 2018
- BPS Consciousness and Experiential Section, 2019