Research / Centre for Dialogue and Public Engagement

Centre for Dialogue and Public Engagement

The aim of the Centre for Dialogue and Public Engagement (CfDPE) is to conduct socially relevant research and knowledge exchange through dialogue with external publics and socially engaged organisations, such as charities, arts organisations, community groups, campaigns, educational institutions, or social business organisations.

The Centre is interdisciplinary and focused on scholarship and research that attend to public - rather than expert – or organisation-centred views of economic benefits and the well-being of society. Ultimately, the work of the Centre aims to improve the quality of life of young people and adults in communities within Scotland, the UK and internationally.

Our Research & Impact

The Centre conducts its work through the medium of the dialogic intervention.

We understand this to be a way of working with groups of people that enables transformative change of individual, organisational or social practices that is built on dialogic epistemology — we recognise the role of reflection and reflexivity, see knowledge and action as inherently connected, we are committed to engaging seriously with the needs of different publics, and recognise the role played by different types of knowledge in people’s lives.

Our work aims to offer an interdisciplinary space for public engagement that puts equal emphasis on the dialogic approach and the issues we tackle, such as health, community, culture, and well-being.


Examples of past and current dialogic interventions conducted by the members of the Centre include:

• The AlcoLOLs project (a dynamic peer-to-peer dialogue approach which helps young people learn and communicate about alcohol – funded by the Robertson Trust for three years);

• The Glasgow Open Museum/ Glasgow Association for Mental Health collaboration;

• Progress Through Learning Midlothian Photovoice Project;

• Bhopal Survivors’ Movement Study (three year project with the Bhopal survivors funded by Nuffield Foundation, the  British Academy and Carnegie Foundation);

• Gender Justice and Violence (eight year collaboration with Scottish Women’s Aid as a contribution to the Scottish Government’s strategy to tackle violence against women);

• Dialogical engagement to explore how people respond to living in a bilingual environment or multilingual environment: Part of Transnationalising Modern Languages (funded by AHRC);

• Developing Mad Studies at QMU: education and scholarship about the experiences, history, culture, political organisation and writings of people who identify as mad (six week course: Mad people’s history and identity: participator research).


Centre staff have a wide range of expertise in areas such as: humanitarian relief, global health development; mental health; employment policy and labour markets; social, environmental and gender justice; community development; peer learning; art therapy; dialogue and engagement methods; ethnography; and communication management.



One of Queen Margaret University (QMU)’s longest running dialogic interventions is described below

The Photovoice Project

Photovoice is a method of enabling community-based learners to engage in meaningful dialogue with each other and their tutors and to reflection their own learning experiences. By generating and discussing photographic representations of places, spaces, events and (where appropriate) people from their own communities, students learn to become confident in their skills in interpretation and analysis of issues that are pertinent to their own lives and communities. More specifically, students use the photographs to give “voice” to their interpretations of sociological theories and concepts, and to reflect on how sociological knowledge can help to make sense of their own identities, as well as issues affecting the communities in which they live.

Delivered in conjunction with Progress Through Learning Midlothian, this project has been completed by over 100 community-based adult learners across Midlothian since 2004, the majority of whom have gone on to study in further and higher education.

Further details and more examples of photographs from the project are available here:

Postgraduate Study

As an interdisciplinary centre focused on dialogue and engagement practice, CDPE offers opportunities for postgraduate study for PhD or Masters by Research (MRes) degrees in collaboration with the exiting research Centres.

We welcome enquiries and aim to facilitate development of projects related to current research conducted at QMU.

For more information, please check Research Centres information. Initial enquiries can be made to Dr Magda Pieczka, or to individual members of the Centre who are engaged in the relevant area of research.

Useful Links:

Graduate School
Posgraduate Taught Study


New Strategic Research Group - Memory
1 June 2016
QMU and Glasgow Action on Mental Health and Glasgow Open Museum Identity and Community
10 May 2016
New external projects from the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation
5 May 2016
University research shows new potato is a ‘Gem’-son
9 November 2015
University project set to save the nation’s voices
30 September 2015
QMU on course to become a Dementia Aware University
29 April 2015
£1.8million for new research on Italian cultures and the study of Modern Languages
24 Oct 2014

Staff members