International recognition for study by School of Environment Professor

14 February 2011

A major U2 website acknowledges a study co-authored by School of Environment researcher, Professor Robin Kearns as part of a collaborative international research project he was involved with, exploring the ways music can contribute towards personal and population-wide health and wellbeing.

By using the ideas and actions of Bono and his Irish rock band U2, the study looks at how the celebrity status of individuals and groups such as U2 can promote the health of individuals, populations and places; how music can carry personal, population and global health messages; and how emotional wellbeing can be part of the consumption of music. 

The researchers’ decision to focus on U2 for this study was based on “numerous strong and explicit connections made between health, wellbeing and places by the rock band - not only in songs and lyrics but also in interviews and other public statements”. Additionally their commercial success, dedication to causes, and widespread political and social influence made U2 an excellent case study.

The study found that “some celebrities such as Bono are becoming de facto new public intellectuals, able to effectively deliver messages - particularly those containing bad news – and challenge large audiences”. 

However, since not all celebrities are having the training “to engage in issues in a detailed manner as academics or policymakers” the researchers suggest that partnerships between academics and celebrities are crucial to achieve delivery of the right messages.

While the study raises many questions, it provides a good starting point for further research. 

The paper titled “Cool aid? Health, wellbeing and place in the work of Bono and U2” has been published in the January issue of the international journal Health & Place.

The study was recently recognised in a national canadian newspaper. You can read the article here.