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Dr Robin Durie

Senior Lecturer


01392 723185

Amory B210

My research interests lie in two main areas. First, I undertake research in political philosophy in the 'Continental' tradition. I have expertise in the history of phenomenology, and, in particular, in the philosophies of Bergson and Deleuze. In this area, I have published work on problems of time, change and difference. I also have expertise in post-structuralist responses to Marx and Marxism, and in the political theory of communities.

I am committed to interdisciplinary research, and have an extensive track record of active collaboration with leading scholars in the fields of health and health-care research, art, design and architecture, systems biology and mathematics.

It is on the basis of this collaborative work that I developed my other main area of research, in public policy, and specifically research in the area of health and healthcare. For the last 15 years, I have undertaken research with colleagues in the Health Complexity Group, based at the University of Exeter Medical School, into processes of change in communities and in healthcare organisations. On the basis of this research, I co-designed the transformational Connecting Communities [C2] programme. The research on C2 has recently informed the development of a major WHO project trialling complexity-informed community engagment in the context of Covid in the Western Pacific Region.

This work led to my being a PI for the Wellcome Centre for Cultures & Environments of Health. I am currently the Director for Engaged Research in the Centre, and am PI for the "Transforming Engagement" Beacon Project.

My commitment to engaged research and public engagement stems from my time as Academic Lead for the RCUK-funded University of Exeter Catalyst for Public Engagement.

Most recently, I have been a member of the Lancet Commission on the Value of Death, for which I led the "philosophy" cluster of work, and co-led the "communities" cluster. The Report of the Commission is due to be published by The Lancet before the end of 2021.

This record of interdisciplinary research deriving from complexity theory led to the award of 2 EPSRC funded research projects: the first project investigated the theme of 'sustainability' from the perspective of theories of emergence; while the second investigated the evolution of artificial culture, and problems of interpretation that emerge in the study of artificial and alien cultures (see  for further details about these projects).

Research supervision

Political philosophy in the 'continental' tradition

The history of phenomenology (especailly Husserl, Heidegger, Derrida, Levinas)

The philosophies of Bergson and Deleuze

Problems of time, change and difference

Complexity theory and social systems

Health and communities

Processes of social and urban change

Interdisciplinary research in public policy (especially in relation to health-care)

Interdisciplinary research in the fields of systems biology, art, design and architecture

Research students

Joanie Willett (lead supervisor), "Cornish Identity"

Simon Townsend (lead supervisor), "Nietzsche & Deleuze"

Carissa Hoareau (lead supervisor), EPSRC funded student, "The Emergence of Artificial Culture in Robot Societies"

Cassie Hague (lead supervisor), "Apocalyptic Youth Fiction and Ambivalence: The limit of Politics"

Jessie Stanier (lead supervisor), "Phenomenologies of Ageing"

Gabriel Thebolt (lead supervisor), "Emergent Wholes and the Porosity of Dynamic Objects"

Cherry Margot Buckwell (co-supervisor), “How the conditions are created for the sustainability of salutogenic population behaviour change”

Jack Griffiths (lead supervisor) "Re-thinking ‘Flourishing’ as an Organic Concept of the Good: The Interpretation of Development and the Evaluation of Life"

Fiona Wotton (lead supervisor), "Contributory conditions to community sustainability: Cornwall’s Look Group Network"

Oliver Garret (co-supervisor), “What is the significance and the value of Foucault’s literary style in the archaeological period of his work?”

Ditte Madsen (co-supervisor),

Zhangmei Tang (co-supervisor), “The Coordinate System of Arendt's Thought”


Craig Lundy (co-supervisor), “Deleuze and History”

External impact and engagement

I was Academic Lead for the RCUK-funded University of Exeter Catalyst for Public Engagement.

I am currently Deputy Director for Engaged Research at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. In the Centre, I am also PI for the "Transforming Engagement" Beacon Project. This video shows how we introduced a new methodology for data generation to our community partners in this project.

In 2004, I co-designed the Connecting Communities [C2] Programme. In this programme, my colleagues & I have been able to work with over 30 communities from all over the UK. An example of the type of impact that this work has had is described in this blogpost.

In the summer of 2021, I was commissioned by WHO to act as a partner, & to co-write the final report, for a major initiative seeking to trial a complexity theory informed approach to community engagement, based in the WHO's Western Pacific Region (collaborating with teams in Malaysia, Cambodia and Lao PDR). The regional teams are working within the areas of mental health, HIV/AIDS, amongst others, in the specific context of the Covid pandemic.

Amongst other groups, I currently work with the Problem Solving Team at Devon & Cornwall Police; the Centre for Ageing Better UK; the City Councils of Stoke-on-Trent, Stockport and Exeter; the RAMM in Exeter and Exeter City Library; and Sovereign Housing Association. In recent years, my work with C2 also informed the work of the Plymouth Fairness Commission (see pp15ff). In partnership with my C2 colleagues, I am currently collaborating on a significant new initiative in Glasgow with the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit.

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