Lizzy Winstone awarded prestigious Churchill Fellowship

  • 27 June 2023

Dr Lizzy Winstone, Senior Research Associate in the University of Bristol Centre for Academic Mental Health, has been awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to develop a project to help young people understand how social media algorithms work. 

The Churchill Fellowship is a UK charity which supports individual UK citizens to follow their passion for change, through learning from the world and bringing that knowledge back to the UK. Their fellowships create a community of changemakers championing global solutions for today’s crucial challenges.  

Together their community of Churchill Fellows use their international learning to lead the change they wish to see across every area of UK life. The Churchill Fellowship was founded by public donation in 1965 as the living legacy of Sir Winston Churchill for the nation. 

Lizzy has been awarded nearly £6k for her project which will last six weeks. It will focus on developing policy recommendations for how social media algorithmic literacy can be embedded into the UK e-safety curriculum.  

She will travel to Seattle in the US for two weeks. There she will meet content and safety leads at social media companies and academic experts in computer science communication and media literacy.  

She will then conduct the rest of the research remotely. She will interview staff from a Canadian charity which campaigns for algorithmic literacy and digital citizenship.  

She will also interview members of a collaboration between Aalto University in Finland and a non-profit foundation in India. This collaboration aims to explore ways of teaching algorithmic literacy to young people using inclusive, critical and playful approaches.  

Once the five-week research period ends, she will produce the policy recommendations. This will be shared with stakeholders including the Department for Education and voluntary sector organisations. It will also be promoted directly to UK teachers. 

Lizzy said: 

“I’m delighted to have this award to extend my work on digital literacy among young people. This project builds on the work I’ve already done around social media and mental health. 

“Importantly, it will culminate in impactful policy recommendations. Social media is such an important part of many young people’s lives. Understanding how algorithms work will give them better control over the content they see online. I want to ensure that young people are supported to develop a digital skillset which enables them to use social media in a way that benefits their development and mental health.  

“I am looking forward to meeting and learning from these international experts and can’t wait to get started!”