Research Projects

Private Aid and Social Media


Deirdre McKay
Keele University
Anke Schwittay
University of Sussex
Anne-Meike Fechter
University of Sussex
Padmapani Perez
Far Eastern University, Manila
Jayeel Serrano Cornelio
Ateneo de Manila University

Our first project, MediateAid, takes a community arts-based approach to explore social media and small aid providers. This project will build a network of researchers, artists and aid practitioners who will explore this new mechanism of funding and delivering aid at at the local level through art-making and artistic collaborations.

Why arts?  Our preliminary work showed us that effective social media posts for aid fundraising feature compelling visuals. These are created by aid providers taking decisions on aesthetics and framing designed to generate sympathy or perform transparency and accountability for their social media followers and the broader public. Working collectively with artists and writers to turn these posts into works of art in their own right will help people who work in the aid field analyse and reflect on their approaches and decisions without judgment.

We are currently seeking funding and networking with community partners and aid agencies.


How can we help policymakers grasp the ethical challenges faced by citizen aid workers who support their aid delivery via social media through art?  What are the limits small aid providers they see in current relationships with larger agencies and how does social media extend these?  What new collaborative approaches to aid delivery and training for para-professional humanitarians do social media models of aid delivery offer?.


  • To exchange knowledge between researchers, artists, and aid workers, collaborating to explore citizen aid, social media ethics, and the global challenge of localising aid delivery.
  • To produce artworks and text, curate public exhibitions, and hold events bringing mediated citizen aid work to public attention, demonstrating the effectiveness of arts-based methods for Development Studies research and localising aid.
  • To encourage and involve artists, aid workers, new researchers and research students in the Philippines to explore arts- based approaches to Development Studies, giving them hands-on experience of curatorial research methodologies.
  • To create durable international collaborations between humanities scholars in the Philippines, the UK, Australia and Singapore and to build links between leading Development Studies programmes to mutually enhance research standards, public engagement, and impact delivery.
  • To generate new collaborations and identify research questions of strategic UK and international importance that can be addressed with arts-based and creative research approaches in other LMICs.



a) Generate critical and reflective insights on and between different experiences of representation on social media in citizen aid via art-making & text writing.
b) Document members’ learning in these encounters through a process of networking and reflection elicited in members’ online discussions on curating exhibitions.
c) Create a publicly-accessible set of works and resources that document the ethics, aesthetics, and storytelling aspects of the new, mediated configurations of citizen aid, then deliver and discuss the lessons-learned with scholars and policymakers.
Photo by Alan Motus

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The Network
The Newton Tech4Dev Network research team is led by Dr. Jonathan Corpus Ong, Prof. Peter Lunt, and Prof. Julio C. Teehankee.