This Research & Knowledge Exchange Doctoral Project brief summarises our priority areas of research interest under the heading of: Social Sustainability: Convergence between theory and practice at place-based events.

We welcome all research degree applications aligned with and in response to this brief.

Lead image credit: Ricardo Resende

Project brief details

As a term social sustainability is ill defined, and as a practice is inconsistently understood.  Social sustainability can be viewed as a goal and a process, and is often perceived as being dynamic, wide ranging, and multi-dimensional.  Social sustainability is also contested, as it differs in meaning and application across space, time, and place (Hassanli et al. 2021). Existing theoretical models and principles of social sustainability provide a springboard from which to explore and accelerate the range of ways in which place-based experiences approach factors such as safety (physical and psychological), security and resilience; justice and equity; quality of life; social cohesion and inclusion; and eco-prosumption (Eizenberg & Jabareen, 2017; Ly & Cope, 2023). Consequently, this project provides an opportunity to explore the synergies and contradictions inherent in social sustainability (e.g. between social inclusion and exclusion) and potentially develop an easier to measure metric system for the experience design sector.   

Taking an event/festival-based focus, the project aspires to enable a deeper exploration of social sustainability, through the lens of place-based experiences, from either a theoretical or practical perspective, or indeed both.  With the opportunity to use PaR (practice as research) as an approach, this project will allow the researcher to produce either an experience designed for a specific space and a practical output (i.e., management or evaluation toolkit), or a framework through which such an experience might be designed and developed in the future.  The goal here being to drive future thinking and explore the breadth and depth of social sustainability in both theory and practice, through the lens of experiential design. 

Consequently, key research questions include (but are not limited to):  

  • Can experiences be designed in a socially sustainable manner, and if so, what are the elements inherent in such an approach? 
  • Is it possible to find convergence between theory and practice? 
  • What, if any, might be indicators of viability and/or success? 
  • What solutions (eg. conceptual, strategic, operational) are available to resolve contradictory aspects of socially sustainable events and experiences? 
  • What implications or solutions could become available for sector leaders? 
  • What might be the limitations (if any) of our current legislative or political landscape? 

Expressions of interest are sought in any or multiple areas outlined above or any areas within this context that potential candidates would like to propose. Multiple methodological and theoretical approaches will be considered and novel and experimental perspectives are welcome.  Research proposals must sit within one or more of Cornwall Business Schools and Falmouth University research priorities. See table below. 

Strategic alignment

Projects deriving from this brief are expected to sit within the Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy and the following department.

Department Cornwall Business school

All successful research degree project proposals must emphasise a clear alignment between the project idea and our Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy. 

Project brief lead

Helen Worthington headshot
Helen Worthington

Project Supervisor: Helen Worthington

Helen Worthington is a Senior Lecturer at Falmouth University in the Faculty of Business & Experience Design, delivering into Sustainable Festival/Tourism Management, Creative Events Management and Music Business, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, in traditional, blended and online formats.

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How to apply

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We welcome all research degree applications aligned with this Doctoral Project brief. ​To apply in response to this brief or learn about the application process click the button below.

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Project brief & project proposal enquiries

To discuss this project brief, ideas or project proposal responding to this brief, please contact: Helen Worthington.


Application enquiries

For all other application related enquires please contact the Research & Development team.


T01326 255831

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