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New Professor of Childhood Studies

Portrait photograph of Professor Victoria Cooper. She has long blonde hair and is wearing a black top. She is stood in front of a sandstone wall in a field.

Dr Victoria Cooper has been promoted to Professor of Childhood Studies, in recognition of her research expertise focusing on children’s voice, and her extensive teaching experience throughout her career and within the School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport (ECYS).

Listening to and engaging with children and young people is central to Professor Cooper’s research and her most recent work explores the experiences of marginalised children and young people. She specialises in multi-modal, ethnographic research and the application of responsive methodologies which recognise the diverse and unique ways in which children and young people choose to communicate their lived experiences. This includes the use of photo and picture-elicitation and picture making as a way of exploring meaning making with children and young people.

Victoria founded The Open University’s Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing in 2019 and is a former Co-Director of the Children's Research Centre (CRC).

Professor Cooper reflected on her promotion, commenting:
“I have learnt so much from all the children, young people and practitioners I have worked with over many years. Most notably, I have learnt that children and young people are diverse and choose to share (or not) and voice their lived experiences in unique ways.”  

Victoria first joined the OU nearly thirty years ago as an Associate Lecturer, or Tutor. Her extensive professional background spans early years teaching, lecturing in further and higher education- teaching students at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level, and supporting tutor professional development. She has contributed to multiple Open University modules, both in production and in presentation to students, at all levels, including most recently Introduction to childhood studies and psychology and Making a difference: working with children and young people

Victoria been principal investigator and co-investigator on a number of funded research projects exploring the experiences of marginalised children and young people, working with diverse stakeholders and charities including Amnesty International UK, Chickenshed Theatre and The Field Studies Council. She is currently Principal Investigator on Families First with YSS (Youth Support Services), a research project exploring the experiences of children, young people and families when a family member is in prison.

She added:
“My professorship is built upon the support of my co-researchers, wonderfully supportive colleagues in ECYS, and the inspirational children, young people and practitioners who despite so many challenges have been generous in sharing their experiences with me and with colleagues from the Children’s Research Centre."

Professor Cooper has published articles and book chapters on a wide range of topics, with a specific focus on issues of identity, research methods and marginalised children’s experiences. Notably, Professor Cooper was one of the authors of Representing children’s rights from discussion through to illustration and interpretation, published in collaboration with Amnesty International on the thirtieth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Looking to the future, Professor Cooper concluded:
“I hope to use my professorship to enhance my work with marginalised children and young people and strive to raise awareness, challenge stigma and lobby for the changes needed to support them and their families.”   

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