Dr Hilde Stephansen – Research Associate (Creating Publics)

Dr Hilde Stephansen

Dr Hilde Stephansen


Hilde was a Research Associate on the OU’s Catalyst project. She is now based at the University of Westminster where she lectures in Sociology.

Hilde’s role on the Catalyst was linked to two projects: to the Catalyst and to Creating Publics. Through her contributions to these projects explored new ways of conceptualising and enacting public engagement with social science research.

Hilde contributed to the delivery and development of a Creating Publics research ‘pilot’, called Participation Now. This involved translating the research aims of the project into a specification and design for a new digital platform for public engagement with research. She then helped translate insights drawn from this research pilot into the context of the Catalyst project and to others beyond.

This work contributed to the generation of new knowledge about public engagement with research for the Catalyst and Creating Publics projects, and to the development of digital infrastructures for public engagement with research that are needed to support each project.


Hilde’s research interests lie in exploring how communication practices of various kinds can contribute to the formation of publics, and how such publics can facilitate broader social processes of knowledge production. Her PhD thesis explored how organisers and activists involved in the World Social Forum use media and communication to create publics at different scales. Her interest in public engagement with research stems from a broad concern with questions of knowledge and power that arise in the context of researching social movements, and she is particularly interested in how different types of knowledge – such as ‘expert’, ‘academic’, ‘activist’ and ‘common sense’ – may intersect in complex ways.

Hilde has presented her research at a range of events, including the Creating Publics, Creating Democracies workshop in June 2012 (co-organised by the Publics research programme in the Open University’s Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance). She has delivered invited lectures hosted by the Centre for Media, Culture and Creative Practice at Birkbeck (May 2012) and the Centre for the Study of Global and Social Justice at the University of Nottingham (November 2012). Her article ‘Media Activism in the World Social Forum‘ was published on OpenDemocracy in October 2012.


Hilde received her PhD in Sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London in January 2012. Before then, she did an MA in Social Research (2006) and a BA in Communications & Sociology (2003), both also at Goldsmiths.

Between 2009 and 2012, Hilde worked as a Visiting Tutor and then Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, where she taught on courses on contemporary and classic social theory, philosophy and methodology of social science, and research methods.

In addition to her role at the Open University, Hilde currently also works for the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths on Storycircle, an action research project that explores the social and digital conditions for narrative exchange and knowledge production. She is also associated with the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy at Goldsmiths.