Map of Plymouth with flags indication places and colourful string used to connect flags. Concept for place, community and creativity research.
Places provide grounding for cultural capital through practices of creative expression and are the fundamental building blocks of community. These places provide an integrated ecosystem where all forms of creativity – artistic and cultural, technological and economic – can help to generate social capital and resilience. They also reveal imbalances in power and inequalities in socioeconomic status, gender and ethnicity.

Place, community and creativity research insights

At Plymouth, the place, community and creativity research theme addresses issues of place, social justice, and social change. Collaborative and creative methods include arts practice, urban placemaking, co-design, and innovative digital technologies. Arts and humanities academics work with colleagues in natural and social sciences to form research collaborations with local cultural organisations and communities. 
This approach strengthens ties with place and the impact that research has within its societal context. More broadly, it impacts the national policy agenda around place, particularly the role of creative industries in addressing regional inequality and community capacity building.
Union Street,  Plymouth, decorated for a community event

Creative partnerships

We bring together diverse perspectives that are essential for a deep understanding of the local context. Through collaboration artists, community members, and researchers explore the cultural, historical, and social aspects of a place, ensuring the research is rooted in the community's lived experiences.
Future Neighbourhoods 
In partnership with Nudge Community Builders, Professor Katharine Willis explored why we need to develop future neighbourhoods from the ground up to create truly inclusive environments for all of our citizens. During this hands-on workshop, we worked with community members to highlight how we can build strong and sustainable communities using technology as a driver for change.
The workshop was part of FUTURES, a festival of discovery that explores the past, creates the present, and imagines the future. 

Academic theme lead

Professor Katharine Willis

Professor Willis is an expert in exploring our interactions with and perceptions of spatial environment and technology, developing innovative ways of creating inclusive urban spaces through new technologies. 
Over two decades Katharine has worked to understand how technology could support communities and contribute to better connections to space and place. Her recent research addresses issues of digital and social inclusion in smart cities, and aims to provide guidance as to how we can use digital connectivity to create smarter neighbourhoods.
Katharine Willis

Other themes in our place-based research

SHAPE disciplines address global challenges associated with marine, health and sustainability through the lens of place

Through five place-based research themes, we investigate the intricate relationships between communities, the natural world, and technology.
Locally, we co-create sustainable solutions to complex problems in order to build resilient and thriving neighbourhoods, cities, and regions. This work transcends geographical, social and political boundaries to become applicable on a global level.
Place-based research concept: crowd of people standing on a computer motherboard.
SHAPE: Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy