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Supporting Interdisciplinarity Phil Ward Deputy Director Research Services University of Kent.

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Presentation on theme: "Supporting Interdisciplinarity Phil Ward Deputy Director Research Services University of Kent."— Presentation transcript:

1 Supporting Interdisciplinarity Phil Ward Deputy Director Research Services University of Kent

2 Drivers for Interdisciplinarity

3 Research Councils – Cross council initiatives Lifelong health and wellbeing Living with environmental change Global uncertainties European Commission – H2020 Societal challenges Health, demographic change and wellbeing; Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy; Secure, clean and efficient energy; Smart, green and integrated transport; Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials; Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies; Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens

4 Page 4 Supporting Interdisciplinarity Identify funders Help with the proposal and application process Costing Institutional ‘sign off’ ‘Accept’ award and negotiate contract Manage Award Financial claims End of Award reports Funding Contracts Finance

5 Supporting Interdisciplinarity Laissez faire – leave academics to make their own collaborations PVC’s Lunchtime Seminars – Provide opportunity to discover other researchers Responding to specific calls – Draw together academics to answer a specific call Crucibles/sandpits – Draw together academics to find their own project

6 Laissez Faire Collaborations naturally occur – Conferences, coffee shops, University meetings Examples include: – National Centre for Statistical Ecology Ecologists and statisticians – Reproduction: geneticists, lawyers, sociologists and ethical philosophers

7 Laissez Faire Pros Links tend to be more deeper and more enduring Doesn’t require external involvement Cons Haphazard Not necessarily in priority areas (either internally or externally)

8 PVC’s Lunchtime Seminars Introduced by PVC Two hour lunchtime slot – Half an hour lunch – 90 minute talks/discussion Attendance c20-40 Broad subject – encompass two or more schools – Structure varied

9 Topics Environment Images Infection Security Social Identity Tourism European Funding Centre for Reasoning Centre for Biomedical Informatics Environmental Priority Group The Face of the Expert Institutions Diagnosing Genetic Diseases Flesh and the Body Religion, Community & Violence Energy Security and Climate Change Decision Making under Risk & Uncertainty Medical Research: working with local charities What Does It Mean to Have a Vocation? Reworking Work Violent and Non-Violent Protest Green Crime Europeanisation

10 Disciplinary Spread 94 speakers took part (9 twice) Social Sciences (54) – Sociology & Social Policy (13), Politics & International Relations (12), Anthropology & Conservation (9), Economics (6), Law (4), Psychology (4), Business (4), Humanities (23) – European Languages & Culture (11), History (6), English (3), Arts (2), Architecture (1) Sciences (17) – Biosciences (8), Engineering & Digital Art (3), Computing (2), Physical Sciences (2), Maths (1)

11 PVC’s Lunchtime Seminars Pros No pressure Senior management buy in Broad appeal Social element Opportunity for unexpected links Cons No pressure Tended to attract an increasingly similar group of academics No substantial collaborations arose from it A lot of preparatory work

12 Responding to Specific Calls Example: Design for Wellbeing – EPSRC/ESRC/AHRC call, May 2012 £7m for up to 5 projects ‘to create a step change in interdisciplinary engineering, social science and design research for wellbeing in the built environment’

13 Design for Wellbeing – at Kent Identified potential Identified potential collaborators (May) – Approached individually to gauge interest (June) Put out a call to all staff to attend an information event (July) – Well attended, but eclectic mix – Lack of willingness to lead Eventually forthcoming

14 Design for Wellbeing – at Kent Further meetings (July-Aug) – Drew in external organisations, incl social housing providers, technology companies, architects A draft project prepared – Focused on ‘transition points’ Recognised that changes in environment as a result of accidents, deteriorating health or bereavement have adverse effects Support is disjointed Project would work with care providers to build a robust, consistent transition framework for carers, professionals and the patients themselves, using existing technological and environmental interventions. Eventually folded (Sept)

15 Responding to Specific Calls Pros Commitment by funder to the area Provides focus for discussions Cons Time consuming Need to be ahead of the curve – Usually too late by the time the call is issued Needs firm leadership – To attract and put off people Oversubscribed – Chances of funding are slim – PI/Group already identified?

16 Crucibles and Sandpits Specific, funded calls for academics and researchers to develop a interdisciplinary project Residential Guaranteed funding at the end EPSRC, Nesta, University of Sheffield Kent 50 th Anniversary Project

17 Crucibles and Sandpits Pros Intense period of focus Free of distractions Funding attached Productive Cons Self selecting – Do you always get ‘best’ researchers? Prescribed areas Busy academics don’t have time Long term?

18 Contact Details Phil Ward University of Kent


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