New research initiative to explore economic and social participation

May 17 / 193

A new Hallmark Research Initiative investigating how people engage with social, economic and political institutions across the life course – irrespective of gender, socioeconomic status, or ethnic or racial background – has been launched at the University of Melbourne.

Led by co-chairs Belinda Hewitt from the Faculty of Arts and Guyonne Kalb from the Faculty of Business and Economics, the Economic and Social Participation Research Initiative (ESPRIt) will facilitate interdisciplinary research on economic and social participation, bringing together researchers from at least six faculties to discover common interests and develop cross-unit and multi-disciplinary collaborations. 

Professor Kalb says preparing the Hallmark proposal last year brought to light the extensive range of interesting research happening across the University in this important area. 

“Through this new initiative Belinda and I are very excited about discovering more research related to economic and social participation across the disciplines, and about the opportunity to bring researchers together around this topic.” 

Associate Professor Hewitt says as an example, in the current social and economic climate it’s becoming increasingly difficult for many people and families to get ahead.

“Housing affordability is low and there is substantial economic and employment uncertainty,” she says. “ESPRIt aims to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations (including external stakeholders) that will help us understand and address issues that limit economic and social participation," she says.

The initiative will award seed funding to interdisciplinary research projects, and run events to build networks for researchers. ESPRIt’s first event – the Inaugural Workshop 'Uncovering Synergies' – will be held on Wednesday 21 June at 4–6pm. One senior member of each of the six faculties currently involved will give a 10-minute presentation explaining what Economic and Social Participation means from the perspective of their field, outlining typical research questions, methodology, and current hot topics or unresolved issues. After the presentations, there will be an informal opportunity for participants to discuss potential research synergies. All researchers from the University are welcome to attend. 

A seed-funding competition aimed at Early Career Researchers is planned for later in the year.

Staff can register for the Inaugural Workshop “Uncovering Synergies” by sending an e-mail to the Academic Convenors (Barbara Broadway and Anna Zhu) at

Register here if you'd like to receive information on upcoming events, or receive the initiative’s newsletter.


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