Starting from values: Evaluating intangible legacies

  • Harder, Marie (PI)
  • Brigstocke, Julian (CoI)
  • Zamenopoulos, Theodore (PI)
  • Alexiou, Katerina (CoI)
  • de Sousa, Sophia (PI)
  • Graham, Paula (PI)
  • Gaubert, Justine (CoI)
  • Hoover, Elona (CoI)
  • Burford, Gemma (CoI)

Project Details


The 'Starting from Values' project was one of seven projects funded to investigate the legacy of projects funded under the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Connected Communities strand.

The main project strand brought together partners from two Connected Communities groups: The Authority Research Network and Scaling Up Co-Design. The aim was to co-develop creative ways of identifying, evaluating and enhancing intangible, values-related aspects of project legacies.

The second strand of work involved taking the co-developed approach and learning from the first phase to a further six Connected Communities projects. In so doing, the project planned to find new ways of lending legitimacy and authority to previously unheard or less ‘tangible’ legacies of Connected Communities projects, and contribute to wider questions on shared values, authority and legacies in collaborative research projects.

Co-investigators from academic and community partners were be responsible for the second phase of the work, facilitating project partners to become (vernacular) designers of values-focused evaluation systems – embedding the ethos of ‘scaling up’ and capacity-building within the project.

Why starting from values?

The question of legacy is closely connected to the values of different stakeholders, yet these values are rarely discussed openly, and many are not considered measurable in tangible ways. As a result, traditional evaluations tend to reflect the values of donors or governments, and what can be easily measured, rather than considering what project partners may be striving to achieve.

Project partners include community and academic investigators with experience or an interest in values dimensions of collaborative research projects, a desire to understand and capture related legacies, and expertise in the areas of values-based indicator development, authority research and the role of arts-based methods in understanding different ‘ways of knowing’.

Formal partners

Prof Marie Harder (Principal Investigator, University of Brighton) expertise in collaborative research project development, contributing an existing and established approach to values-led evaluation previously developed in an EU-FP7 funded project.

Dr Julian Brigstocke (Co-Investigator, Cardiff University) member of the Authority Research Network with particular interest in geographies of art, literature and performance; spatialities of power and authority; and experimental forms of democratic engagement with the non-human and non-living.

Dr Theodore Zamenopoulos (Co-Investigator, Open University) brings expertise on the psychological and social conditions that enable creativity and on approaches for community formation.

Dr Katerina Alexiou (Co-investigator, Open University) brings expertise in design methods and community-led design particularly in the context of the built environment.

Sophia de Sousa (Community Co-Investigator, The Glass-House) has considerable experience in community-university partnership research through Connected Communities and contributes expertise in community-led design approaches.

Paula Graham (Community Co-Investigator, Fossbox) contributes expertise in co-design research and community informatics.

Colin Foskett (Community Co-Investigator, The Blackwood Foundation) has a particular interest in co-design in the context of independent living through an international online community, ‘bespoken’.

Justine Gaubert (Community Co-Investigator, Silent Cities) contributes expertise in community media, building environments where isolated and disadvantaged individuals and groups can flourish and ‘silent voices’ can develop the skills needed to work in the creative sector.

Elona Hoover and Gemma Burford (Named Researchers, University of Brighton)


Andy Cheng (University of Sussex), Prof Ann Light (Northumbria University), Dr Busayawam Lam (Brunel University), Prof Andy Dearden (Sheffield Hallam University), Prof Andrew Church (University of Brighton)

Project collaborators

Leila Dawney, Tehseen Noorani, Claire Blencowe, Naomi Millner, Sam Kirwan, Patrick Bresnihan (Authority Research Network), Louise Dredge, Lucia das Neves and Maja Luna Jorgensen (The Glass House Community-Led Design)
Firooz Firoozmand and Ceri Davies (University of Brighton), Chandrika Cycil and Emma Plouviez (Fossbox CIC), Andy Gosler, Karen Park, Felice Wyndham, David Nathan, Ada Grabowzka-Zhang, John Fanshawe and Heidi Fletcher (Ethno-Ornithology World Archive project), Ian Hargreaves (PI), Hannah Scarbrough (Cardiff Centre for Community Journalism) and Tyler Mears (Rhondda People) from Media, Community and the Creative Citizen project. Hannah Goraya (Scaling Up Co-Design project),  El Veasey, Faiza Omar (Silent Cities, Community Journalists)

Layman's description

Key findings

‘Starting from values’ re-sets the balance and provides a mechanism for understanding and valuing different perspectives. It also gives space and a language to articulate less ‘tangible’ aspects of project legacies.

A values-based approach to understanding the legacies of community-engaged research can:
• Unearth ‘new’ legacies and a deeper understanding of ‘known’ legacies • Enhance existing legacies
• Create confidence to articulate broader and deeper aspects of legacies • Enhance collaborative working within partnerships

The project led to additional benefits for community partners: energising key members of staff and articulating the values of their own organisations. This has also led to being better equipped to negotiate their role in future partnership work.
The project has also inspired partners to develop new projects with values approaches at the heart of design and delivery, and led to new research ideas and practices.

The process helped the team to re-articulate shared values. We identified openness as a key value not only for the project but also as a condition for ‘scaling-up’ collaborative design practices.
Other shared values included: Testing ideas and approaches, Achieving broader social benefit, Creating new and lasting connections, Doing more with less, adding value and enriching work of community partners,

We also started to design approaches to explore not only the values that are shared but also individual and potentially contentious values.
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