Dr Flora Cornish

Dr Flora Cornish

Associate Professor in Research Methodology

Department of Methodology

+44 (0)20 7955 6792
Room No
COL 8.09
Office Hours
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Key Expertise
Community resilience; Health activism; Participation; Knowledge Exchange

About me

Flora is an Associate Professor in Qualitative Research Methodology. Flora received her PhD in Social Psychology from LSE in 2004, and before that, graduated from the Department of Methodology’s MSc in Social Research Methods. Following positions at the University of Cambridge and Glasgow Caledonian University, she joined LSE as a Lecturer in 2011.


Research interests            

I am a community psychologist investigating the role of grassroots mobilisation in improving public health, both through local-level community responses to health crises, and through wider organising, coalition-building and campaigning.

I aim to do research that has transformative potential, with an interest in democratising knowledge, using qualitative methods, community collaborations, and theoretical resources that resonate with health-promoting struggles.


Community-led recovery post-Grenfell

My current research investigates the process of community-led recovery in West London in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire. The project has begun as a knowledge-exchange project, marshalling materials with which to build accounts of the process of recovery from different points of view, collaborating with community members on their own stories of recovery, as a foundation for developing academic versions. The project also enables knowledge exchange with emergency management professionals and policy-makers in the interesting of improving the environment for community-led disaster response and recovery. It is funded by an LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact grant.

An early output presents a timeline of the unfolding of knowledge about the contamination of air and soil in the local area. It shows the steps through which, over 22 months, residents’ calls for investigation of potential health-damaging contamination eventually resulted in the commencement of a full scientific investigation. 


Public health activism in a changing socio-political environment

More broadly, I am interested in contemporary potentials for public health activism in a changing socio-political environment. Recent years have produced crisis conditions for health justice, stemming partly from long-running economic conditions producing ever-increasing inequalities, and partly from a rapid rise in authoritarianism and divisive forms of populism. Yet health activists are opening up spaces for novel forms of health-promoting agency. Working with scholar-activist colleagues, we have brought together a special issue of the Journal of Social & Political Psychology on the topic, and have a further special issue of Critical Public Health in progress. 

My understanding of the role of activism in producing advancements in public health is founded in 15 years of research on sex worker-led HIV prevention in low income contexts.


Evidence, evaluation and qualitative methods

The role of qualitative methods in improving understandings of how and why health and development interventions work is a key concern. I co-authored the book ‘Qualitative Research for Development: A guide for practitioners’

With colleagues I have written critically about simplistic applications of monitoring and evaluation tools, assessments of social impacts of HIV/AIDS, and misuses of systematic reviews, to which I propose a pragmatist alternative.

I am currently working on the methodology of dialogical case studies. 


For full publications, see Google Scholar.


Expertise Details

Health activism; Community mobilisation; Participation; Democratising knowledge; University-Community Knowledge Exchange; Community-led disaster recovery; Dialogue; Evidence-Based Practice; Evidence-Based Activism; Ethnography; Scholar-Activism

Publications on community health, participation and partnerships

Publications on dialogue and intersubjectivity

Publications on methodology