Press release

University Professor awarded Academy of Social Sciences Fellowship

Published on 20 October 2021

The University of Dundee’s Professor Lorraine van Blerk has been conferred as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of her work on global social justice

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Professor van Blerk, of the University’s Geography and Environmental Sciences discipline, is among 75 leading social scientists who have been conferred in this year’s cohort of new Fellows. All were recognised for their outstanding contributions to research and application of social science to policy, education, society and the economy.

Professor van Blerk’s research on social justice and equality mainly focuses on young people around the world, empowering some of the most marginalised members of society to advocate for their rights, leading to national and global policy changes.

“It is an honour to be made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences,” she said. The Academy provides a platform to promote the importance of social sciences to the wider research community.”

“To have my work recognised is a great achievement and demonstrates the value of social sciences. By understanding society and social justice issues, we can influence policy and practice for creating solutions to complex global challenges.”

Most notable of Professor van Blerk’s work is the award-winning longitudinal participatory research project Growing up on the Streets, which explored the lives of street youth in three African cities.

It has achieved sustained impact through representation of street children and youth in discussions around their capabilities, reducing violence on the streets, and creating equality and sustainable livelihoods for homeless young people across the globe.

“This prestigious Fellowship raises the profile of the work that we do for, and with, young people as well as the impact this can have.

“The work of youth researchers in the Growing up on the Streets project was recently highly commended in The Hidden REF, emphasising the importance of inclusion and representation. Our research also influenced the UN General Comment 21 on Children in Street Situations, cementing young people’s rights in policy.”

Professor van Blerk is currently researching issues of displacement, including exploring the links with environmental change and sustainable livelihoods. Her related work on Youth Transitions in Protracted Crises, exploring the experiences of young refugees in Uganda and Jordan, has also impacted policy and was recently highlighted as case study of youth inclusion in recent UN guidelines.

The Academy of Social Sciences is the national academy of academics, learned societies and practitioners in the social sciences. Its charitable purpose is to promote social science in the UK for public benefit.


Jessica Rorke

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 388878