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Matt Henn

Professor

School of Social Sciences

Staff Group(s)
Social and Political Sciences Nottingham Civic Exchange

Role

Research role

Dr Matt Henn is Professor of Social Research and is based within the Department of Social and Political Sciences.

As part of his responsibilities, Matt takes a leading role in research matters, and chairs the Department's Research Leadership Team.  He is also coordinator research activity for the Politics and International Studies unit for the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Matt is an active member of the Citizenship, Democracy and Transformation Research Group within the Department, as well as the School of Social Sciences’ Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families. He is also a member of the Research Committee for the School of Social Sciences.

Matt is also an active researcher.  He is author of Opinion Polls and Volatile Electorates (1998), and A Critical Introduction to Social Research (with Mark Weinstein and Nick Foard, second addition 2009)  He has also recently co-authored a new book (with James Sloam, 2018) that is free to download (from: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-97469-9), Youthquake 2017: The Rise of Young Cosmopolitans in Britain.

He has published numerous journal articles on youth and political participation, opinion polling in Eastern Europe, and political campaigning – most recently for: International Politics Reviews; International Political Science Review; British Journal of Sociology; International Politics Reviews; Political Insight; Societies; Education, Citizenship and Social Justice; Political Studies; Policy and Politics; Social Policy and Society; Parliamentary Affairs; Aloma - Journal of Psychology, Education and Sports Science; Sociology Review; Teaching Citizenship; Journal of Youth Studies.

Matt has recently been awarded funding by the  Economic and Social Research Council to work on several research projects:

  • “Young people and politics in Britain: How do young people participate in politics and what can be done to strengthen their political connection?”
  • “UK in a Changing Europe: Co-producing an e-tool to increase youth involvement in the UK 2016 referendum on EU membership”
  • “The 2017 General Election, Brexit and young people's futures: enabling UK youth to understand, speak out and influence Brexit in a changing Europe”.

Teaching and learning

Matt has a long history of leading PhD programmes in the former College of Business, Law and Social Sciences (1996 - 2012) and more recently the School of Social Sciences (2012 until 2020). In those roles, Matt was responsible for over 140 PhD research students. He oversaw the recruitment of all PhD research students for the School, the coordination of our research training programme, and ensuring that our provision complied with the guidelines of relevant Research Councils.

His general teaching field is in the broad areas of citizenship and political participation and in research methods, and he contributes this teaching to a number of academic courses, including the MA Politics and the MSc Politics and Public Policy.

Career overview

Matt has worked in the Higher Education sector since 1988. He started his career as a researcher in the Department of Economics and Politics at Nottingham Trent University (when it was called Nottingham Polytechnic), and in 1992 he joined the University of North London as a Lecturer in Social Science Research Methods.

He returned to NTU in 1994 and was appointed Course Leader for the MSc Research Methods - a course that became an integral part of our PhD research degrees programme. He became a member of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee the following year (subsequently chairing that committee from 2002-2004).

In 2004 he joined the Nottingham Trent University Graduate School and became Head of Research Degrees and Research Training for the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences; in 2012 he moved to the School of Social Sciences.

During the last few years, Matt has been active in developing teaching and learning opportunities internationally, and these activities align with Nottingham Trent University's internationalising ambitions. For instance, he has presented key-note speeches and talks at several international events to inform and enhance curriculum development and educational policy for doctoral programmes, in countries such as Macedonia, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain and Morocco. He has also set up a number of ERASMUS staff and doctoral mobility agreements with strategically selected partner universities in several countries. He was also a Visiting Professor for the 'Doctoral Research Methods Programme' at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona from 2010 until 2017.

In 2010 Matt was awarded a Chair in Social Research as recognition of his contribution to Nottingham Trent University through his research and his leadership of postgraduate programmes of study.

Research areas

Research interests

Matt’s research interests are in the following areas, and he is interested in supervising PhD research students within these fields:

  • youth and politics
  • voting and elections
  • political parties
  • political engagement
  • political participation

Opportunities arise to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD in the areas identified above. Further information may be obtained on the NTU Research Degrees website: https://www.ntu.ac.uk/research/research-degrees-at-ntu.

Current research projects

  • 2016-present, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 'https://meandeurope.com/' funded project, "Co-producing an E-tool to increase youth involvement in the UK referendum on EU membership" (award 4030006249) (2016-2017). Awarded £9,345
  • 2016-present, Co- Investigator ESRC funded project, "UK in a Changing Europe: Extension of the Me and EU website" (2017-2018) (follow-on award, £8,000).

The research projects focus on voting behaviour and political engagement amongst young people globally. Matt is especially interested in why this generation appears to have little interest in mainstream politics, and his research considers such wider issues as political participation, voter apathy, and citizenship. The research has resulted in several high profile publications, together with significant interest from the political parties, as well as from the national, local and international media.

Matt is currently leading an NTU team in his latest research project, Citizens, environmental sustainability and local democracy: Putting people’s voices at the centre of Nottingham’s Carbon Neutral 2028 Action Plan. The NTU team is working closely with Nottingham City Council’s Carbon Neutral Policy Team to conduct the research project. They will run a series of online focus groups that will bring together Nottingham residents (aged 16 and older) to discuss their environmental concerns and policy preferences, including how best to promote and achieve carbon-reducing behavioural changes amongst local citizens to help address the climate emergency.

Previous research grants

External activity

Matt is a member of the UK Political Studies Association (UK PSA), and of the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, and Young People and Politics specialist groups of the UK PSA, and of the American Political Studies Association (APSA).

He has previously been a member of, and advisor to, the Nottinghamshire County Council Elections group, and advises political parties and citizenship groups about issues concerning young peoples' political participation in Britain.

He has previously been a member of the steering group of the Nottingham Speakers' Corner Trust.

Matt regularly contributes to the broadcast and printed media on matters concerning elections, political parties, voting behaviour, and voting apathy.

He is widely sought as an adviser on doctoral research.  Examples include:

  • Adviser to the Macedonian Ministry of Education for the Macedonian Education Modernization Project (Skopie, 2009)
  • Keynote speech to Rectors and Vice-Rectors at the UNICA Masterclass (Dubrovnik, 2009)
  • Keynote speech at King Saud University (Riyadh, 2010)
  • Invited speaker at fora in Barcelona, Rome and Angers in 2010 and 2011
  • Invited speaker at Conference on 'Structuring Doctoral education in Europe: Appraisal and Good Practices', at University of Tetouan (2011)
  • Visiting Professor for the 'Doctoral Research Methods Programme' at the University Autonoma Barcelona (2010 - 2017)

Sponsors and collaborators

The funders for Matt's research work have been:

  • The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • The Nuffield Foundation.
  • The Nottinghamshire County Council

Through his work, Matt has connected with a variety of different external organisations and groups, including:

He is interested in exploring possibilities for developing projects with external organisations and groups advocating young people’s civic and political participation.

Press expertise

  • Politics and youth
  • Voting and elections
  • Political parties