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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

University of Southampton announced as partner in new Third Sector Centre

Published: 4 August 2008 Origin:  Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology

The University of Southampton, in partnership with the University of Birmingham, will jointly lead a new Third Sector Research Centre dedicated to analysing the impact of the sector's activities.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) and the Barrow Cadbury Trust to support the vital role of third sector organisations, the Centre will receive a total joint investment of £10.25 million over the next five years.

It will be directed by Professor Pete Alcock of the University of Birmingham and Professor John Mohan of the University of Southampton will act as deputy director. The Centre will conduct research and analysis to strengthen the evidence base for the entire third sector, including charities, social enterprises and small community organisations.

Focusing on key issues such as the sector's scale, dynamics and effectiveness, its work will include research into the effectiveness and impact of third sector organisations, as well as specific research programmes of direct relevance to third sector policy and practice; mapping of the sector, and an enhanced understanding of its dynamics.

At Southampton, the Centre will be based in the Social Sciences, where research activity will be concentrated in the Divisions of Sociology and Social Policy, Politics and International Relations, and Social Statistics. There will also be collaboration with staff from Geography. Academics will be developing systematic reviews of the evidence base on the sector, assembling and analysing large-scale databases, and conducting several research projects investigating political, sociological and geographical aspects of third sector development.

Professor John Mohan commented: "This is an exciting new opportunity to provide an extensive and robust research resource for the Third Sector and to work closely with policy makers and practitioners - both locally and nationally - in building capacity and engagement. We are pleased to have been chosen to run the Centre and are looking forward to commencing work in September."

Professor Tony McGrew , Head of the Social Sciences said: "I am delighted that this strong academic partnership between social scientists at Birmingham and Southampton has achieved such success.

"This new Centre brings together scholars from many different disciplinary backgrounds from within and beyond Social Sciences, not only to advance our knowledge of the third sector but also to make an important contribution to public policy in this field."

Phil Hope, Minister of the Third Sector, added: "This is a very exciting development. This will be a Centre for the whole sector, with academics working alongside charities, social enterprises and small community associations to develop the evidence base on the sector and the impact it has on peoples' lives."

Two capacity building clusters (CBCs), based at the University of Middlesex

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