About Dr Jessica Symons

Throughout my working life, I have been interested in transformative practices. From the 1990s, I have worked as an IT consultant in large multinationals, SMEs and startups developing technologies and business models for the internet, mobile phones, smart cards and ecommerce. In the 2000s, I was a sustainability consultant developing projects for environmental and community organisations. In 2010s, I combined these interests to develop expertise in creativity and idea development first in a PhD and subsequently in research projects with the Universities of Manchester and Salford.  LinkedIn: Dr Jessica Symons

Now I apply research insights to explore new and effective processes to tackle the  challenges emerging from technological and environmental change.

Selected reports, papers and books

  • Realising the city: urban ethnography in Manchester, Lewis, C. and Symons, J (Eds.) Manchester University Press, 2017. (Book)
  • Perry, B and Symons, J. ‘From creative economy to cultural ecologies: enhancing urban policy through cultural intermediation’ in Cultural intermediaries connecting communities: revisiting approaches to cultural engagement. Jones, P. Perry, B. and Long, P. (Eds.) Policy Press (Chapter)
  • Symons, J. ‘Cultural strategy as meaning-making: an ethnography of local government policy development in Northern England’ in Post-Industrial Precarity: new ethnographies of urban change, Evans, G (Ed), Vernon Press (Chapter).
  • Hurley, U. and Symons, J. (2018) Strategies for connecting low income communities to the creative economy through play: two case studies in Northern England. Creative Industries Journal (Article)
  • Symons, J. (2017) “We’re not hard-to-reach, they are!’ Integrating local priorities in urban research in Northern England: an experimental method.” Sociological Review (Article)
  • Symons, J. (2016) “Untangling creativity and art for policy purposes: ethnographic insights from Manchester International Festival and Manchester Day Parade.” International Journal of Cultural Policy: 1-15. (Article)
  • Symons, J. (2015) “Shaping the Flow: Ethnographic Analysis of a Manchester Parade Event.” Ethnos ahead-of-print: 1-15. (Article)

Public speaking / workshops / films

  • “Going to the future. Theory and Practice of Visioning Labs”, Keynote for Federal Academy for Security Policy, Foresight Discussion Forum Berlin, Germany, 2018
  • “Smart Wise Sustainable Cities in India”, Bhubaneswar University, India, 2018 (invited seminar)
  • Influencing: Member of Salford Cultural Strategy Working Group at the Mayor of Salford office; Consultant for Royal Exchange Play,’ In Deep Water’, set in Ordsall.
  • Speaking events: Creative hubs: urban regeneration, civic engagement and the tourism economy, Westminster Media Forum Keynote Seminar: The creative industries in the North of England local growth and the UK’s competitiveness in global markets, The Lowry, Salford; Ideas4Ordsall Celebration with Salford City Mayor, Ceremonial Mayors, councillors and senior representatives, University of Salford (co-organiser and chair)
  • Workshops: Learning Together: exploring the Learning City, Wai Yin Centre, Manchester (2017), Draw your non-human self in Virtual Reality using Google Tiltbrush, Manchester Science Festival, Salford Quays (2017); Idea Development for AHRC Connected Communities project, ‘In the Making’, investigating disability and 3D printing, Eccles (2015); An alternative data portrait Dive into Big Data, University of Manchester, Mediacity (2014)
  • Films (Producer): This is Ordsall, How the artworld works (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIIfLE1QM-c), 1000 years of Ordsall History https://vimeo.com/143411763

Academic guest lectures / workshops

  •  Ethnography, MA and BA Architecture, University of Manchester (2 x gues lectures) 2018
  • Fieldwork, MSc Research Methods, SOBE, University of Salford (2 x guest lectures) 2016
  • Design in Context, BA Design course, University of Salford, (3 x guest lectures) 2015
  • Creative Geographies, BA Human Geography course, University of Manchester (guest lecture) 2015
  • MA Creative Education course, University of Salford (2 x guest lectures), 2014 & 2015
  • Devolution Download workshop, University of Salford (co-organiser and chair), 2015
  • Urban Ethnography Maphack, Mediacity, University of Salford (chair), 2015
  • CHIME Inception event, Mistra Urban Futures (workshop co-lead), 2015
  • Digital Intermediation panel, International Salford Media Festival, Salford (lead/chair), 2014
  • Storypower: social change through narrative, Mapping Information Landscapes, University of Manchester, 2014

Social media and online profile