New Professor of Applied Sociology and Rural Studies
The University of the Highlands and Islands has acknowledged the internationally recognised and respected academic Dr Philomena de Lima, awarding her the title of Professor of Applied Sociology and Rural Studies, for her transformative work in applied sociological research.
Professor de Lima is the Director of The Centre for Remote and Rural Studies, based at Inverness College UHI. Her research focuses on the influence of global and regional forces of change on diverse communities in remote and rural regions. It also has a strong international dimension and has been funded by a range of agencies such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Scottish Government; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council – Canada and the European Commission.
Professor de Lima’s groundbreaking study on rural minority ethnic experiences in Scotland, funded by the Commission for Racial Equality and Gulbenkian Foundation, in the late 1990s addressed significant gaps in rural studies and sociological literature on ethnicity and ‘race’ literature. It provided evidence for the first time to agencies such as the Commission for Racial Equality, the Scottish Government, Scottish Funding Council and local authorities of the importance of addressing rural minority ethnic experiences and equalities generally.
Recently she been part of international collaborative and comparative research and knowledge exchange projects, exploring: mobile, migrant lives – rhythms of living and being; rural policy learning commons; and linking community innovation for sustainability and stewardship during times of rapid change. As well as serving on non-departmental public bodies such as the Scottish Funding Council and the National Lottery Charities Board (UK), she is an invited expert to government-funded research projects and review panels.
Professor de Lima said:
“I am passionate about exploring issues such as social exclusion, poverty, ethnicity, ‘race’, migration and wellbeing. Having spent my formative years in three continents, I draw on my experience to research issues through the lens of rural places and the diverse communities that live there.
“I am delighted that the University of the Highlands and Islands has recognised my work, and the significance of applied sociological research to the university and to regions such as the Highlands and the Islands and beyond.
“The personal chair award will help to raise the profile of the important contribution that disciplines such as sociology can make to deepening our understanding of the opportunities and challenges communities in rural regions face and explore ways of addressing these.”
Professor Clive Mulholland, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said:
“The title of professor is the highest level of academic achievement which can be awarded. It is reserved for individuals who are recognised as leaders in their field and have demonstrated excellence in their work. Professor de Lima’s innovative research is critical in highlighting equity and social justice issues across the regions of the Highlands and Islands and internationally.”
Dr Melanie Smith, Inverness College UHI Director of Research and Innovation, said:
“I have had the privilege of working with Professor de Lima over a number of years and seen the significant level of professionalism, integrity and commitment which she brings to all aspects of her research, teaching and leadership. She has a well-established international reputation, which has ensured her research into issues such as rural social exclusion and migration, has a respected global profile.”