Dr Jane Dyson
Oxford researcher Dr Jane Dyson has received an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) prize for Outstanding International Impact.
It follows the making of her film, 'Lifelines', which is based on her research with north Indian youth. The ESRC said her film has become an important educational tool, countering negative stereotypes and informing society about a poorly understood section of the world's population.
Dr Dyson's documentary on the challenges facing young people in the Indian Himalayas has reached school children, students and policymakers worldwide. The film has been viewed over 14,000 times in 126 countries and has been an official selection at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (2015), Kathmandu International Film Festival (2014) and the Kendal Mountain Festival (2014) amongst others. Being the subject of the film ,'Lifelines', has transformed the life Makar Singh, who now aims to train with other north Indian youth to produce their own documentaries on young people's social and political action. The accompanying teaching pack now features as a Welsh national curriculum resource and is used in several universities in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. A US business entrepreneur was also so inspired by the film that he committed funding for a new educational NGO in the village of Bemni, the location of the film.
For 12 years, Dr Dyson of the University's School of Geography and the Environment has been conducting research on young people, education and unemployment in north India, where one in three high school graduates under the age of 29 is unemployed. A key aim of the ESRC-funded project is to show the creative ways in which youth are managing these economic uncertainties through, for example, helping their communities.
Jane took filmmaker Ross Harrison to the village to chart the changes. The film tells the story of 32-year-old Makar who, like many of his friends, tries to balance traditional work alongside his efforts to get ahead in the modern world. Dr Dyson explained: 'The village is changing rapidly, and many of the big issues that educated unemployed youth are encountering across South Asia are reflected in these changes. In moving between the personal and wider global shifts, the film tells a compelling story of social change in the early 21st century.'
As well as providing a valuable teaching resource and being selected for several international film festivals, the film has also inspired government officials in the Uttarakhand region to change their thinking on education and unemployment and tackle youth issues.
'The film is informing society about a section of the world's population that is poorly understood,' said Dr Dyson. 'It has found an audience that we could never have dreamed of reaching with just the written word.'