Human and Social Factors in Transport: What are the opportunities

Institute for Transport Studies
9th July 2014
Human and Social Factors in Transport
What are the opportunities for building inter-disciplinary
partnerships at Leeds
Dr Karen Lucas,
Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds, UK
• Human and social factors have not been very dominant aspects of transportation
research compared with more technical avenues of enquiry
• Huge increase in number of projects, PhDs, journals and academic publications
around these issues in last 10-15 years
• Conference opportunities
Transport Geography Research Group of Royal Geographical Society
Association of American Geographers Annual Conference
Transportation Research Board ‘Social and Economic Factors Committee’
World Conference for Transport Research (WCTR) new Special Interest Group
‘Cultural and Social Issues in Transport’ established 201
• Numerous publishing outlets within the transportation journals
– Journal of Transport Geography; Transport Policy, Transportation, Transportation
Research A & C & E, International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, Transport
Reviews, Mobilities, etc.
• Also in diverse non-transport facing journals:
– e.g. Journal of Poverty; Applied Geography; Ageing & Society; Built Environment;
Energy Policy; Environment and Planning A & B; Regional Studies; Human Factors,
What are human and social
Refers to a wide variety of research issues including:
• Various traveller behaviours, attitudes, perceptions, experiences, habits, social
practices and social norms
• Human interaction with new transport and communication technologies vulnerability, safety and risk
• Relationships between transport, network capital, mobility, accessibility and
human and social capital
• Human exposure to negative transport externalities, transport justice and social
• The transport needs of different social groups in different spatial contexts
• The wider role of transport in economic, political and social integration and
• Transport planning, policy and governance and participation and exclusion from
transport decision processes
• Both qualitative and quantitative studies and often using
hybrid/mixed methods and analysis
• Everything from behavioural and choice modelling through
GIS-based and other spatial modelling to qualitative,
participative, ethnographic and action-based research
• Also a focus on developing new forms of impact analysis
and social appraisal methods
• Often studies have a cross-disciplinary focus and set of
expertise, e.g. environmental modelling with epidemiology;
social practices and in context of technical interventions;
psychological surveys with index of happiness; travel
behaviours with health & wellbeing
Visioning the inter-disciplinary
interface within ITS and beyond
Our group
Existing cross-disciplinary
• Civil Engineering
• Geography
• Leeds Social Science
• Business
• Psychology
• Health/Epidemiology
• Social Policy
• ???
What is the motivation?
• Funders such as RCUK and EC increasingly emphasis multi-disciplinary
research enquiries;
• Leeds’ University Strategy identifies cross-cutting research themes as
the way forward and ITS’ Research Strategy echoes this:
– Because human and social factors in transport offer this broad base
our research is the best opportunity for cross-disciplinary interaction
within UoL and beyond
– The focus on societal outcomes makes this is a good way for ITS to
enhance its research impact across all 4 RGs
– H&S Factors already has experience in delivering high quality crossdisciplinary projects, e.g. DEMAND Centre, Driver Centre,
Disruptions, etc.
– It is the best way to promote research innovation, discover new
horizons and identify opportunities
University Draft Strategic Plan
Research & Innovation
Strong disciplines with an appropriate balance of ‘curiosity-driven’ and applied research
Highly focused interdisciplinary research networks with the expertise, range and reputation to address funding and impact
priorities in the UK and further afield
Successful doctoral training centres and a vibrant PhD and post doctoral community
A step-change in postgraduate research funding
Investing in University fellowships & tenure track appointments to nurture and incentivise early career researchers
Highly competitive, strategic leadership appointments and a commitment to supporting and retaining existing, high
performing staff and academic leaders
Sector-leading technology platforms with first rate technical support – these will be attractive to staff and meet relevant
industry standards
Stronger links with industry and active funder relationships
Translating research into pedagogy; creating research opportunities for students.
What we will do:
Invest in 250 new academic fellows to sustain our academic future, 100 to be externally funded
Invest in postgraduate research studentships: £2.7m central funding in 2014/15, with matched faculty support, and total
funding of £22.4m in the period 2015-2020; make a determined effort to raise further support from industry, government &
EU for doctoral training
Continue University development and investment for existing & emerging research strengths
Establish world-leading positions in key aspects of major interdisciplinary research themes; health, water, food, energy,
culture & cities
Invest in platform technologies, ensuring shared use of expensive equipment & resources
Ensure our research outputs (publications and data) are freely accessible in line with the policies of research funders
Leeds Social Science Strategy
Vision and Strategy
• It is our ambition for the University of Leeds to be a globally recognised powerhouse for social science
research and innovation where our world-leading research has significant and broad impact on society,
shaping global public debate and policy and supporting the training of the next generation of social
science leaders.
• Our aims are:
To develop wide ranging and significant societal, economic and environmental impact
To support social science disciplines in achieving globally-recognised excellence in research
To become world-renowned for our centres of interdisciplinary social science research and innovative methods
To train the next generation of social science leaders equipped to tackle global challenges
To maximise the effectiveness of social science research funding by becoming the focus of significant international and national investment.
• To take these aims forward our strategy for the social sciences is to:
enhance the capacity of social science research to produce knowledge with impact that shapes regional, national and international policy,
public debate and professional practice
promote interdisciplinary research and team-building that afford novel and critical insights to contemporary research challenges
support and enhance the successful capture of large-scale, problem-focused and complex cross-disciplinary research funding grants
forge and promote cross-institutional partnerships within the region, nationally and across the globe which add value
advance the integration of social sciences methodologies and concepts within cross-disciplinary research themes and programmes
throughout the University
further develop our reputation as a world leader in advanced skills and methods training by capacity building for postgraduate and early
career researchers.
What are the barriers?
• Different disciplines have different research cultures, standards and
• Trans-disciplinarians often feel ‘left out’ by both disciplines – it takes time
to build up trust relationships
• You can feel like you are not speaking the same language and/or like a
Jack of All Trades and master of none
• You effectively need to network and function in 2 (or more) academic
circles – who has the time?
• The world of publishing has not caught up yet - it is not always easy to
publish in journals outside your main discipline
• It can slow down your career development pathway – multi-disciplinarily
is often not rewarded as quickly or as well as the ‘siloed’ approach
Over to you!!!
And thanks for
[email protected]

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