This article was edited by SPRITE+ Research Associate Dmitry Dereshev, with responses and edits from Assistant Professor at Coventry University Charis Rice.
The spotlight today is on Charis Rice – Assistant Professor at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) at Coventry University, an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a SPRITE+ Expert Fellow. Some of Charis’ latest publications include:
How would you describe your job to a 12-year-old?
I study what we can learn about people and their jobs from how they speak. I am interested in how people who we think of as powerful communicate, such as politicians or other kinds of leaders, and how this makes those who listen feel and behave.
Could you describe what you do during a typical workday?
I can be doing anything from reading (not as much as I’d like!), writing journal articles, book chapters, conference papers, funding bid applications, supervising PhD students, meeting with colleagues about various projects, collecting or analysing qualitative data.
Could you describe a challenging project that you’ve recently worked on?
I am currently working on a project that explores how community leaders use communication to build trust in a divided society – Northern Ireland. The context is complex and characterised by systemic distrust, and leaders work with a range of individuals, groups and organisations. In this project, I engage with the minutiae of trust and distrust theory, and across disciplines including communication studies, political science and organization studies.
What training/experience did you have at the start of your career?
How did you get into your current role?
I spent a year or so after my PhD as a research consultant for a private company. While I quickly decided the working culture wasn’t for me, I gained useful experience in successful grant writing for public and private sector clients, as well as delivering consultancy projects, facilitating public consultation events and presenting research to policymakers and stakeholders. This experience helped get me into my current position (alongside having some journal articles under my belt).
What do you wish you'd known when you started your career?
That I’d never feel I’d really ever ‘finished’ a project – there’s always more to explore!
What would you recommend to people who want to follow in your footsteps?
To be willing to learn from others, to be open to working in different areas to what you studied for your PhD topic, to develop and maintain relationships with academics who you trust and respect.
What troubles did you have progressing through your career?
The funding environment is particularly tough at the moment, but it is central part of my progression, being in a research-focused role. Taking time out for maternity leave was also no doubt a bit of a momentum breaker – though most definitely worth it!
What one stereotype would like to dispel about your job or industry?
That academic research is all quite abstract. Impact making is much more of a focus in academia than those outside it may realise. The ‘real world’ applications of research are something that have become central to my work and realizing them is really fulfilling.
How would you describe your research or business interest in relation to SPRITE+?
I am interested in issues of trust and distrust regarding the human factors of security. Particularly, how security culture manifests in organisations through rules and norms, team relations, leader behaviour and communication.
How do you hope to benefit from working with SPRITE+ network?
I hope to meet new people and build collaborations with those working on issues related to my interests and with those who can teach me more about the technological aspects of security.
Which of the SPRITE+ Challenge Themes can you relate to from the job that you do? How does it impact your role?
The Digital Vulnerabilities, and the Power and Control challenge themes encompass many of my research interests and pose questions I have considered in some form. My recent CREST-funded research with colleague Ros Searle on Counterproductive Work Behaviour explored issues of vulnerability, trust and change in a high-security organisation through case studies of insider threat. We produced a report, practitioner toolkits, animations and videos that collate our findings.
Applications are open to individuals from academia and professional practice (non-academic) to attend an online sandpit on Digital Vulnerabilities in July 2021. Up to £160k of SPRITE+ funding will be made available to fund interdisciplinary projects.