UCL Grand Challenges


Adolescent Lives

UCL Grand Challenges' Adolescent Lives initiative has supported work spanning across all six Grand Challenges, with multiple impacts emerging from these new collaborations.

10 September 2021

Applications Closed 

Purpose of the scheme

In 2017-18, UCL’s Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding led a pan-Grand Challenges initiative focused on Adolescent Lives, to support cross-disciplinary activity from across the UCL research community. The work addressed three topics. What is : 

  1. adolescence?
  2. youth prospects?
  3. youth identities?

The initiative aimed to enable the voices of young people to be heard in a range of areas including environment, housing, ownership of culture, and issues of inclusion and exclusion; to understand how they articulate concerns, and to explore the changing nature of a sense of person, place and community.

In addition, the Adolescent Lives theme sought to question the limits and scope of adolescence (as defined in social, educational and medical contexts), and answer the question, "what does the term 'adolescent' encompass?" Through the lenses of different cultures, and social and economic perspectives, what does adolescence mean in modern Britain, and in other nations globally, today?

Twenty bids to a value of £127,000, came from Applicants across eight of UCL's eleven faculties.

Nine awards were made to a value of £38.9k for the work of nine pairs of applicants representing six faculties: 

  • Population Health Sciences (three 1st Applicant awardees, total award value £15.1k), 
  • Brain Sciences (two 1st Appt, £9.4k), 
  • Arts & Humanities (one 1st Appt, £6.3k), 
  • Institute of Education (two 1st Appt, £4.8k),  
  • Social and Historical Sciences (one 1st Appt, £3.3k).

The projects generated significant impact, as was apparent during a one-day showcase workshop in which the projects presented their emerging, innovative, cross-disciplinary research activities and findings. An outline of these multiple impacts and the cross-disciplinary research harnessed under the initiative are detailed below.

Following the awards made in response to applications to the Adolescent Lives competition, Professor Iain Borden (Bartlett Architecture) received an ad hoc award of £1.8k for his international skateboarding conference, Pushing Boarders, 1-3 June 2018.

More in-depth details of the projects' impacts can be found on the Grand Challenges Adolescent Lives blog