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20072024

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Last updated 7th November 2023

Biography

I am Professor of Youth and Policy (since 2013) and Associate Dean – Research, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (RIKE) (since 2015) for the School of Business and Education at the University of Huddersfield, where I have worked since 1999.

My research focuses mainly on state policies around young people and ethnic/racial community cohesion, and on the prevention of violent extremism. I’m concerned particularly with how ground-level policy-makers and practitioners mediate and enact such state policy agendas.

I have developed my research through a number of past and present funded projects created in collaboration with regional, national and international government bodies and Policing organisations, with the research findings creating impact by influencing international, national and regional policy and practice. I was Joint Principal Investigator (PI) (with Prof. Michele Grossman of Deakin University, Australia) of the CREST/ESRC-funded ‘Community Reporting Thresholds’ project which investigated the barriers community members, especially young adults, face in sharing concerns about someone close to them becoming involved in extremism. This UK study directly informed the National Counter-Terrorism Police’s ‘Act Early’ campaign, with PIs Thomas and Grossman acting as Advisers. This research has since been  replicated and developed through research studies in the USA (funded by the US National Institute of Justice/DOJ and led by UCLA) and in Canada (funded by Public Safety Canada and led by Ryerson University, Toronto), with Prof. Grossman and I Joint-PIs on both studies. I am also currently Co-I on a study with Deakin University around changing processes of terrorist recruitment. I was previously Joint PI (with Professor. Joel Busher, Coventry and Dr.Tufyal Choudhury, Durham) on the first national study investigating the implementation of the Prevent Duty in English schools and colleges. The 2017 report from this project received significant media coverage and policy-making interest. My work on education's contibution to the prevention of vioent extremism has provided the basis for two successive REF 4* Impact Case Studies in 2014 and 2021.

Previously, I was PI on an action research project around implementation of community cohesion policies in Kirklees, West Yorkshire and Co-PI on a mixed methods investigation of attitudes and dispositions within mainly white, marginalised communities in both Kirklees and Calderdale. I have previously been PI on a Prevent-funded action research project into young people’s feelings about ‘identity’, cohesion and segregation in Rochdale and Oldham, Greater Manchester and on an evaluation of the first year of Prevent activity in Kirklees, West Yorkshire. I am currently working with the Jo Cox Foundation to research community attitudes to cohesion and involvement in Batley, West Yorkshire.

I am a professionally qualified youth and community worker. Prior to joining the University, I worked as a regional manager for a national voluntary youth work organisation and as a regional youth policy and campaigns officer for the government’s Commission for Racial Equality. Since joining the University, I have contributed to sociology and social policy teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, to the professional development of our Youth and Community Work students, and to PGR supervision. I am an Editorial Board member of the leading journal Terrorism and Political Violence.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Preventing Extremism
  • Ethnic Integration
  • Community Cohesion
  • Multiculturalism and state policy approaches
  • Ethnic segregation, Integration and Community Cohesion
  • Terrorism, political extremism and approaches to prevention, including the Prevent strategy
  • Ethnicity, Identity, marginalisation and young people
  • Youth Work policy and practice
  • Marginalised young people

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