Arianna Giovannini, Institute for Northern Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University
Advertised in The Times Higher , June 21, 2006
It is a question that has no doubt puzzled many southerners over the years, but Arianna Giovannini (right) hopes that her research will provide some answers to the poser "What is the North?".
Ms Giovannini started her PhD in northern studies two months ago, moving from Italy, where she was previously working as a researcher in the Emilia-Romagna regional government.
"From the early stages of my education I have been interested in UK politics and devolution," she said.
"So I was looking for a PhD in northern England as I thought this would be a challenging and interesting place to study and I came across the Institute of Northern Studies, which was just perfect. It is a very young institute, only set up last September, so it is academically very fresh."
Ms Giovannini admits that the question "What is the North?" is not going to be easy to answer.
"I'll be investigating the processes shaping regional identity and trying to identify if there are specific northern ways of doing things," she said.
"One of the main problems I see the Government facing is that it wants to talk about a northern way of doing things without taking into account all the differences. I don't think the Government is really very interested in the sociology of the region."
The university environment at Leeds Met is very different to that in Italy, Ms Giovannini, says, but she is settling in well all the same.
"Italian academic relationships are very formal, but here I feel much more part of the research team," she said.
"There is lots of social life, and it is very easy to make friends. Yes, if we don't talk about the weather I am enjoying Leeds a lot."
Leeds Met is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Headingly campus by appointing 100 PhD studentships, including Ms Giovannini.