Professor Carol Munn-Giddings

Professor of Participative Inquiry and Collaborative Practice

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education

Department:School of Education & Social Care

Location: Chelmsford

Areas of Expertise: Social Work and Social Policy

Professor Carol's research focuses on ways in which citizens and citizen groups with a direct experience of a health or social situation can inform the development of appropriate health and social care services.

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Carol is a Professor of Participative Inquiry and Collaborative Practice. She joined ARU in 1995 after many years as a social researcher and research manager in various health and social services settings.

Her current research includes work with self-help/mutual aid groups in the community, training and supporting citizen researchers and more recently how the use of participatory arts can improve wellbeing in a variety of health contexts. Carol leads and contributes to a number of regional, national and internationally funded projects in relation to these areas.

Research interests

  • Self-help/mutual aid groups
  • User-Run Organisations (Self-Help Organisations)
  • Participatory Arts in Health & Social Care
  • Older Citizens
  • Practitioner, User and Carer involvement in Research
  • Participatory methodologies
  • Action Research

Carol's subject and methodological interests are complementary; both aimed at putting direct experience of health and social care situations at the heart of research. Self-help/mutual aid groups and organisations are based on the knowledge built through peers sharing their life experience and coping strategies. Carol is exploring the distinctive contribution that a collective knowledge base, developed in groups or organisations over time, can make to our understandings and conceptualisations of health and social care conditions. She specialises in undertaking and supporting participatory forms of research including action research that engages citizens and practitioners as co-researchers in the research process.

Areas of research supervision

Carol has a long track-record of supervising PhD and Professional Doctorate students and in 2012 received the Vice-Chancellor’s award for Excellence in Research Supervision. To date, she has supervised 11 students to completion and examined 15 PhD’s including 7 invited external appointments for Brunel, Northumbria, Southbank, Liverpool John Moores , UWE, UEA and Nottingham Universities.

She can offer supervision in subjects focussed on or related to self-help/mutual aid groups and organisations, citizen research groups, community engagement and projects using participatory methodologies, particularly those with older citizens.

Emma Kaminskiy (2014) A grounded construction of shared decision making for psychiatric medication management: findings from a community mental health team: Second Supervisor.

Sarah Chaudhary (2014) Self-help groups as sites of active citizenship: a qualitative study of the democratising role of self-help in the public sphere. Second Supervisor (Nottingham University).

Jermaine Ravalier (2013) Stress in the workplace: a participatory intervention. Second Supervisor

Patience Seebohm (2013) "It's about liberation" Community development support for groups of black people with mental health problems. First Supervisor.

Stephen Moore. PhD by Publication (2012) New tricks and the underdogs: understanding anti-social behaviour from the viewpoint of the troublemakers. First Supervisor.

Martin Hillary (2011) Long-term care issues in a British-founded Buddhist Movement: First Supervisor.

Chris Beckett PhD by publication (2010) Fantasy and Reality in Social work. First Supervisor.

Isobel Williams (2010) Development of an on-line community of practice between social work lecturers in the UK and India: promoting a global knowledge sharing environment: First Supervisor.

Roxanna Anghel (2010) An Exploration of the Process of Transition from Public Care, as Experienced by Romanian Young People and Care Professionals: Second Supervisor

Current PhD supervision:
Melanie Boyce "It's a safe space": the contribution of self-harm self-help groups: First Supervisor

Niamh O'Brien Defining Bullying and Developing Initiatives: A case study approach using participatory action research: First Supervisor.

Steve Carey Towards the emergence of 'professionalisation' in Disabled People's User Led Organisations. First Supervisor.

Nigel Henderson Student decision making in Selecting and Supporting Learning in Anatomy and Physiology: Second Supervisor


Carol contributes methodological sessions to the doctoral (PhD and Doctorate) training programmes primarily on participatory and action research approaches plus cross-national studies. In addition, she inputs to a variety of module sessions based on the findings of recent research.


PhD in Social Policy (2003), University of Loughborough

MA in Social Policy and Administration (Distinction) (1990), Goldsmiths College, University of London

BA (Hons) in Applied Social Studies 2.1 (1987), University of North London

ONC (1981) & HNC (1983) Distinction Business Studies, Colchester Institute

Memberships, editorial boards

Fellow of Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
Member of Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN)
Co-Editor of Educational Action Research Journal (Routledge, Taylor & Francis) plus link role with international Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN).
Special Issue Editor with Roar Stokken (2010) of the International Journal of Self Help & Self Care (Baywood Publishing)
Special Issue Editor with Roar Stokken and Rea Maglajilic (2015) for Intersectionalities: A global journal of social work analysis. (Memorial University of Newfoundland).

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Engagement Strategy for Women’s Refuge’ With Colchester & Tendring Womens Refuge. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., O’Brien, N. 2014-15. Funder: Essex Police and Crime Commission. £19,486. Principle Investigator.

Effective support for community based self-help groups (ESTEEM). Team: Munn-Giddings, C, Avis, M (joint PI), Collis, S + Boyce, M., Chaudhary, S & Seebohm , P . 2010-14. Funder: Big Lottery. £264,866. Principle Investigator.

Caregiver’s perceptions of the value of the arts in therapeutic and clinical interventions. Team: Bungay, H (PI) & Munn-Giddings, C with Boyce, M & Wilson, C. 2014. Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council. £23,813. Co-Investigator:

Making Involvement Matter in Essex (MIME) Involving service Users and Carers in the Commissioning Process in Essex. Secker, J; Munn-Giddings, C; SE-SURG and ARW. 2009-12. Funder: Pan Essex Consortia ECC and PCTS. £500,000. Co-Investigator

Training & Supporting Older People as Researchers. Team: McVicar, A. (Joint PI), Boyce, M., O’Brien, N. Funder: Essex County Council. 2009-12. £66,000. Principle Investigator.

The Innovatory Features of User Run Organisations. Team: Munn-Giddings, C, Smith, L, M. Boyce, Wright, S. 2006-8. Funder: Mental Health Foundation £50,000. Principle Investigator.

Project Director/Co-ordinator: EU Development Projects:

Project Director: Drug abuse and HIV amongst young people in Ukraine: Team: Boyko, O & DeBell, D. Funder: DFID. 2001-2003. £48,092.

Project Director: Tempus-Compact programme: Disseminating Social Work and Social Policy at the Mohyla Academy, University of Kiev. Team: Ramon, S & Poltevetz, V., Rodrigues, F. 1998-2001. EU funded 153,000 ECU.

Recent Consultancy:

Supporting Citizen Research groups with whyNot! OPRG with Dr Andy McVicar. Funded by Big Lottery. £4,918.

Using evidence for impact. Training for Healthwatch, Essex ambassadors via Voluntary Sector Training with Dr. Andy McVicar. £1,400.

Selected recent publications

Book Chapters:
(Forthcoming) Munn-Giddings, C., Oka, T., Borkman, T., Matzat, J., Montano, R., Chikoto , G .2015. Self-help and mutual aid group volunteering in Horton-Smith, D & Grotz (Eds) Research Handbook of Volunteering and Non-profit Associations. Palgrave: New York.

Munn-Giddings, C., 2012. Action Research. In Waring, M., Coe, R and Hedges, L , eds. Education Research: methods and methodologies. London: Sage pp.71-75.

Borkman, T & Munn-Giddings, C.,2008. The contribution of self-help groups and organizations to changing relations between patients/consumers and the health care system in the US and UK. In Chambre, S and Goldner, M, eds. Patients, Consumers and Civil Society: US and International Perspectives, Vol. 10 Advances in Medical Sociology, Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing

Peer-Reviewed Articles:
Boyce, M., Munn-Giddings, C., Seebohm, P., Chaudary, S., & Avis, M. 2015. Use of social media by self-help/mutual aid groups in Groupwork. 24 (2): pp.26-44.

Fraser, A., Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C .2014. The value of the use of participatory arts activities in residential care settings to enhance the wellbeing and quality of life of older people: A rapid review of the literature Arts and Health.6 (3) pp.266-278.

Ravalier,J., McVicar,A. & Munn-Giddings,C.2014. Public service stress and burnout over 12 months. Occupational Medicine (Lond) 64 (7): pp. 521-523.

McGregor, F., Somner, J., Bourne, R., Munn-Giddings, C., Shah, P & Cross, V. 2014. Social media use by patients with glaucoma: what can we learn? Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 34(1) pp.46-52.

McVicar, A., Munn-Giddings, C., Seebohm, P., 2013. Workplace Stress Interventions Using Participatory Action Research Designs. International Journal of Workplace Health Management 6 (part 1) pp18-37.

Ravalier,J., McVicar,A. & Munn-Giddings,C. 2013. The Management Standards Indicator Tool and measurement of burnout. Occupational Medicine (Lond) (2013) 63 (2): 145-147.

Seebohm, P., Boyce, M., Chaudhary, S., Avis, M & Munn-Giddings, C. 2013. The contribution of self-help/mutual aid groups to mental wellbeing. Health & Social Care in the Community. 21 (4): pp.391-401.

Chaudhary, S., Avis, M., & Munn-Giddings, C. 2012. Beyond the therapeutic: A Habermasian view of self help groups’ place in the public sphere. Social Theory & health. pp. 1-22.

McVicar, A., Munn-Giddings, C. & Abu-Helil, C. 2012. Exploring the development of action research in nursing and social care in the UK: A comparative bibliometric review of action research designs in social work (2000–2010). Action Research, 10 (1), pp79-101.

Gelling, L., Munn-Giddings, C., 2011. Ethical review of Action Research: the challenges for researchers and research ethics committees. Research Ethics, 7 (3), pp. 103-109.

Seebohm, P., Munn-Giddings, C & Brewer, P., 2010. What’s in a name? A discussion paper on the labels and location of self-organising community groups with particular reference to mental health and Black groups. Mental Health & Social Inclusion, 14 (3), pp. 23-29.

Boyce, M., Munn-Giddings, C., Campbell, S & Smith, L., 2010. Innovatory features and challenges facing mental health user-led organisations. Mental Health Review, 15 (2), pp. 34-42.

Chaudhary, S., Avis, M & Munn-Giddings, C., 2010. The lifespan and life-cycle of self-help groups: a retrospective study of groups in Nottingham, UK. Health & Social Care in the Community, 18 (4), pp.346-354.

Munn-Giddings, C & McVicar, A., Boyce, M., O’Brien. N., 2009. Older People as Researchers – WhyNot?. Working with Older People, 13 (4), pp 16-19.

Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., Smith, L & Campbell, S., 2009. The Innovative Role of User Led Organisations. A life in the Day, 13 (3), pp. 14-20.

Boyce, M., O’Brien. N., Munn-Giddings, C & McVicar, A., 2009. How does the rhetoric of ‘user participation’ in research apply to older people? Research, Policy and Planning, 27 (2), pp 55-63

Borkman, T., Munn-Giddings, C., Karlsson, M., Smith, L., 2009. Social Philosophy and Funding in Self Help Organisations: A US-UK-Swedish analysis. International Journal of Self Help and Social Care, 4 (3), pp 201-220.

Public report:
Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M & Wlson, C. 2015. The Value of the Arts in Therapeutic and Clinical Interventions: A critical review of the literature. ARU Publishing.

Recent presentations and conferences

Munn-Giddings, C. 2014. Keynote: Let’s Tango: who is in the dance of action research? Collaborative Action research Network. Newcastle. Oct 31st-Nov 2nd.

Munn-Giddings, C. 2014. ISTR International Conference.Munster, Germany. July 22-25th.

(i) Convenor of International Symposium at ISTR Conference on What do self-help/mutual aid groups contribute to creating and sustaining civil society? Munster, Germany. July 22nd

(ii) Contributor to Symposium on Citizens Voices, paper on Citizens as Researchers. Munster, Germany. July 22nd

Munn-Giddings, C. 2014. Chair and presenter roundtable on ‘Concepts of Reciprocity and implications for Social work’. Bolzano, Italy., April 16th.

Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M. 2013. Engaging Community Groups and Practitioners in Participatory Research. Tromso, Norway, November 7th.

Munn-Giddings, C, 2012. Keynote. Self-help/Mutual Aid – Learning from the Nordic Context . Oslo, Norway. November 8th.

Munn-Giddings, C. 2012. Writing for Publication. Collaborative Action Research Network International Conference, Kent Nov 23rd-25th.

Boyce, M & Munn-Giddings, C. 2012. Hidden Resource: The potential of self-help groups to contribute to health care delivery, policy and practice. Hannover, Germany. August 31st-Sept 1st.

Munn-Giddings, C., 2011. Nordic Self Help Network. Invited keynotes (2) in Trondheim and Orsta-Volda, Norway. June.

‘Working with experiential and professional knowledge: opportunities and challenges’

(i) Reflections on establishing and supporting Citizen Research Groups

(ii) How can professionals best support self Help Groups: early findings from the ESTEEM project

Munn-Giddings, C., 2010. Keynote: Self Help in Various Contexts – A UK perspective. Nord-Tronelag University College, Norway. September 15th-17th.

Munn-Giddings, C & Borkman, T., 2010. How different traditions of self-help/mutual aid research can inform Third Sector knowledge. International Society of Third Sector Research Conference. Istanbul, Turkey, 7-10th July.

Recent Community Engagement Seminars:

Munn-Giddings, C & Boyce, M. 2014. Universities Week: ideas for Life. Involving citizens in research with the WhyNot! Older Citizens Research Group. Chelmsford Public Library. June 11th.

Munn-Giddings, C., McVicar, A & WhyNot! Older People’s Research Group. 2012. Citizens Research Groups - -WhyNot! Chelmsford Festival of Ideas. ARU. October 17th.

Munn-Giddings, C., 2011 & 2012. Women in Research with Niamh O’Brien. Anglia Ruskin University Public Lecture Agenda. International Women’s Day. March.

Munn-Giddings, C ., 2011. KT Equal Empowering Older People – Older People as Researchers – WhyNot? with Jan Loudon from WhyNot! Older People’s Research Group. Reading Town Hall. January.

Media experience

Radio interviews (live)