Lecturer in Welfare, Ethics and Society, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
Pru Hobson-West holds an MA Hons (Politics, First Class) from the University of Edinburgh, which included a year of study at Queen's University, Canada. She also holds a PhD from the University of Nottingham. Pru's PhD work (Leverhulme Trust funded) was based in the Institute for Science and Society and her thesis investigated organised resistance to childhood vaccination in the UK. This topic became increasingly politicised following media debate about the combined MMR vaccine. Her thesis and associated publications contributed to social scientific literatures on trust, ethics, public understanding of science, and risk.
In 2006 Dr Hobson-West was awarded a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biomedical Ethics to study the UK debate about the use of animals in scientific research. This led to publications on: the emerging field of animals and society; the role of public opinion in the animal research debate; the status of the '3Rs' concept; and the way in which scientists justify their laboratory research. Whilst the fellowship was UK based, Pru also spent a semester as a Visiting Fellow in the J.F.K School of Government, Harvard University (Fall 2006).
Following a research post looking at animal genomics in the School of Biosciences, Pru joined the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science (SVMS) in 2009 as a Lecturer in Welfare, Ethics and Society. She is based in the Centre for Applied Bioethics which spans SVMS and the School of Biosciences http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/bioethics/index.html
Dr Pru Hobson-West is a social scientist with expertise in the fields of animals and society, animals and ethics, public understanding of science, risk, and science and technology studies. She is a non-clinical lecturer in welfare, ethics and society at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham.
I have three main interrelated research areas. My primary research interest is in Animals & Society. This is an emerging area of scholarship which uses social scientific theories and methods to… read more
I have three main interrelated research areas. My primary research interest is in Animals & Society. This is an emerging area of scholarship which uses social scientific theories and methods to understand the varied and complex relationships between individuals, communities, and animals. For example, I was involved in a cross-disciplinary pilot project which used interviews with clients to explore the relationship between canine obesity, owner attitudes and veterinary practice (Masterfoods funded). I have also applied ideas from Animals and Society to the topic of farm animal vaccination (DairyCo funded) and to laboratory animal research, and am shortly about to start a three year project looking at the relationship between animal research governance and public participation (Leverhulme Trust funded).
My secondary research interest is in Animal Ethics. This field looks at the normative position of animals (e.g. companion, lab or farm animals), and the link between ethical principles and animal law or public policy. For example, some of my previous empirical work investigated how senior laboratory scientists deal with the ethics of their research, and how they negotiate evidence and uncertainty (Wellcome Trust funded). I also supervise a PhD student looking at arguments around the use of primates in medical experiments (FRAME funded).
My third area of interest is in the use of qualitative methods in emerging research fields and my own particular expertise is in the use of in depth interviews on sensitive topics. Overall I have experience in the use of qualitative methods to analyse documents, websites, focus group and interview data. I also have experience in the use of the Ethical Matrix, a novel tool developed for ethical engagement. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/bioethics/ethical-matrix.html
I am currently involved with several grant applications on animal ethics/ animals and society and would welcome approaches from prospective PhD students or researchers on potential research topics under these headings.