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A Guide for Writing Talk-pieces

Abstract: This guide gives all the information you need to write a talk piece for the Talking About Hope Project.


The Talking About Hope Project is looking for 'talk pieces to be published on its website. These should be short articles of around 1,000 words that fit into one of three themes, as outlined below. We call them 'talk pieces because we want them to be thought-provoking, creative, and stimulate ongoing conversation. They should reflect your unique approach to the concept of hope and draw on your experiences in your profession, vocation, or research.

The Talking About Hope Project

Talking About Hope is a project that brings together students, academics, and others from across disciplines and professions to discuss the concept of Hope and how it can be used. The idea originated with the "Citizenship Futures - The Politics of Hope" research project led by Dr Indrajit Roy. Citizenship Futures invited audiences to "reflect on the ways in which hopes for the future remain central to the political imaginations of socially excluded people." A key finding to come out of this was the way civic associations have created conditions for hope through aid work for those hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Building a link between everyday activism and hope counters the overemphasis on fear and anxiety in charity discourse and helps inform political imagination to better involve excluded parties like the poor, ethnic or religious minorities, and persecuted groups.The Talking About Hope Project

This idea subsequently featured in a research "away-day" organised by York's Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre. Here, participants explored how Hope could be used as a "tool" for academic research. This theme was then carried into the IGDC's PGR Friday Forum where members commented on how Hope, and emotions more generally, could and should feature in academic research. These discussions naturally coalesced around the topic of the Covid-19 pandemic - a disaster that has made hope and its connections with politics and activism more relevant than ever.

Now we are embarking on a new and exciting project that will shed new light on what hope means in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The first phase of this will be a series of "talk-pieces" written on the theme of hope, how it is experienced, and how it can be used. These will inform a project conference in Summer 2022 which will draw these diverse approaches together and work towards a tangible outcome such as a guide for using hope as a category of analysis or greater awareness of the importance of hope in policy and planning decisions. We want this conversation to be as open as possible and inclusive of perspectives from throughout society. We are excited to receive talk-pieces written by students, academics, teachers, journalists, doctors, musicians, charity workers, and everyone and anyone with a perspective to share. Submissions will be published on a dedicated webpage and made freely accessible to anyone interested in this conversation.

Guidance on writing talk-pieces

We want these talk pieces to be creative, and thought-provoking, and to reflect your own approach and ideas. But we also want them to work together as part of a united conversation. To that end, we have put together the following guidance to give some structure and coherence to the submissions:

  • Format: Talk pieces should be in the style of a blog post or mini-article; about 1,000 to 1,300 words long (though if you want to write an extended piece that will be welcome!) If appropriate, it might be a good idea to break up the text with subheadings or bullet-points where appropriate to make for easier reading. Further guidance and tips can be found in the following articles: How to Write a Blog Post in 2021: The Ultimate Guide and 7 Tips for Writing that Great Blog Post, Every Time.
  • Audience: These talk pieces will be read by students, academics, and non-academics, so should be accessible and comprehensible to most audiences. Please avoid excessive jargon and overly complicated discipline-specific language. The whole point of this project is to be as inclusive as possible and stimulate conversation across disciplines and between people from different walks of life.
  • Presentation: Please include a title and "cover image" with your article. The title and image will be the first thing potential readers see on the website - so make them intriguing! Feel free to use images to illustrate your article too. Please make sure any images used have a creative commons licence
  • References: When referencing a text or article please name the author or use an in-line citation and apply a hyperlink to the relevant web page (as has been done in this guide.) Where hyperlink references are used, footnotes and endnotes will not be necessary. A bibliography is not required either, though if you want to include some suggested further reading then please do so.
  • Theme: Ideally, talk pieces will fit one of these three key themes. Please specify this when you submit your piece:
    1. Conceptualisation - what is Hope? How do we define Hope? Is Hope a noun or a verb? Is it individual or collective? What's the difference between hope, faith, expectation, aspiration, and belief? Is hope a coping mechanism in times of adversity? How does hope fit into a matrix of context and priorities alongside considerations of time, place, a sense of community, and concurrent regional or even global trends?
    2. Application - can Hope be used in academic research or in wider practice? Should it be? Can Hope explain human behaviour in the social sciences? Ought we consider Hope when writing about politics and or economics? How is Hope invoked through music, art, and literature? How important is Hope in medicine and social care? For example, as a research assistant on the "Citizenship Futures" project, Milissa Williams has explained that hope can be used to identify the needs and desires of marginalised groups and to motivate action to secure those aspirations. She has also emphasised the need to recognise the hopes of others, particularly as we build back from the Covid-19 pandemic and the disproportionate damage it has done to marginalised and oppressed groups. Similarly, in my research on Caribbean politics, the concept of hope has drawn my attention to the agency of voters and helped inform my understanding of voter behaviour outside the more structuralist bounds of parties, political spectrums, and economic performance.
    3. Methodology - how can we measure and operationalise Hope? Can we make a Hope-scale, from hopeless to certain. What would be the uses of such a scale? How culturally determined is Hope? How does Hope interact with other social influences like development, politics, religion, and community?
  • Policy on re-publishing material: if you have already published material you think is relevant to this discussion and would like to republish it on the Talking About Hope webpage then this is welcome. However, we do ask that whatever is submitted is no longer than 1,300 words - this may mean precising an existing article or offering an abstract or excerpt. You must ensure you have the necessary copyright and permissions to republish the material.

This is a rolling call for submissions, meaning there is no deadline for when these talk pieces need to be submitted. We will publish approved pieces on a regular basis on a dedicated web page starting from Autumn Term 2021.

Please note that all submissions will be subject to editing and approval by the TAH project team.  

For ideas about the Project and potential talk pieces, see those already published on the webpage.

If you're interested in writing a talk piece or have any questions about the Talking About Hope Project please email