Following an internal recruitment process, the University is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Allen Thurston as Director of the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation (CESI).


The appointment will take place with immediate effect. Professor Paul Connolly, the founding Director of CESI, will continue to play a key role in supporting the work of CESI through becoming Chair of the newly constituted Management Board for the Centre.

Professor Thurston was previously Director of the Centre for Effective Education and was one of the members of the leadership team that established CESI in 2016 and has, since it’s creation, been one of the Centre’s Deputy Directors. Professor Thurston was also previously Head of the School of Education and interim Head of the new School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work; leading the successful establishment of the large, interdisciplinary new School.


Professor Thurston is also Professor of Education and his main research interests are in the fields of improving academic achievement for students in high poverty areas, use of cooperative learning in schools and issues surrounding vision impairment. Over the last five years, he has been successfully worked in teams to produce research bids that have attracted over £7 million to CESI (£1.75 million as lead investigator).

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Thurston said: “I am delighted to take on this role as Director of CESI. The work that CESI is undertaking to find answers to the challenges of addressing social inequalities is vital. Colleagues within CESI are working hard to discover what makes communities function better, how people can achieve better health outcomes, how schools can work better and how we can improve the lives of families. This work will play an essential role in making future society more fair and equitable. The opportunities for transdisciplinary solutions being developed by CESI, to the challenges society faces, presents a unique opportunity for CESI. I am looking forward to helping CESI maximise these opportunities and work to provide the answers that local and global communities deserve from us.”


Speaking on the new appointment, Professor Paul Connolly said: “I am absolutely thrilled with Allen’s appointment and believe he has the considerable experience and skills required to take CESI forward over the coming years. Reflecting the cross-university nature of CESI, we will be establishing a Management Board for the Centre that I will chair, and that will include relevant Heads of School. I very much look forward to working with Allen and continuing to support CESI in this role as Chair of the Board.” 

“Personally, I am very proud of what we have achieved so far with CESI and the strong foundations we have set. I am also very excited about the ambitious vision we have for its further development and growth. We genuinely have the potential over the next few years to establish ourselves as one of the world-leaders in promoting the better use of evidence in policy and practice in education, social welfare and public health. I will, of course, continue to also play my full role in helping to build the Centre, especially through our new Campbell UK & Ireland centre that is hosted within CESI and several large-scale projects that I will continue to lead within CESI.”


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