Category: 1990s / All Harkness Stories / Higher Education / Humanities / Politics & Public Services /
Robert Barr (1992-93) had recently completed his PhD on Social Information Systems, as he applied for the Harkness fellowship. An urban and social geographer, his academic interests are directly related to the lives of people living in urban areas. For his fellowship he was based at the National Centre for Geographic Information and Analysis at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As an ‘applied’ geographer, he was keen to show how geographical information systems could be used to illuminate social issues. His work showed how much inequality there was, and remains, in the US and on his return he found himself more involved in social issues. He joined one of the Social Exclusion Unit policy action teams and was involved in research that led to the correction of 2001 census, which netted Manchester over £120m in additional revenue support grant. While continuing as a part-time academic, Bob spun his university lab out as a company which helped produce a National Address Register for the 2011 census that avoided the problems of 2001. Since 2006 Bob has served as a Liberal Democrat councillor on Warrington Borough Council and currently leads the opposition with 12 councillors. Bob has served on numerous advisory panels, has held office in the Association for Geographic Information and served on the boards of local Housing Associations. He has won a number of awards for his work and, in 2008, was awarded an OBE for services to Geography.