It has been announced that over the next five years, the AHRC will strengthen knowledge and understanding of the human world by focussing on excellence of achievement, extending opportunity and building capacity through partnerships. Published friday, The Human World: The Arts and Humanities in our Time (2013-2018), the AHRCs new Strategy, sets out the AHRCs distinctive role in the UKs system of support for research and how it intends to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing research environment.
Over the next five years the new strategy commits the AHRC to: supporting collaborative and inter-disciplinary research, whilst maintaining its strong commitment to responsive mode and ambitious researcher-led projects; enhancing postgraduate provision; extending and increasing the opportunities for researchers to work collaboratively with a wide range of partners; maintaining the UKs international leadership in arts and humanities research; and further explaining and evidencing the value and importance of research in the arts and humanities.
The Strategy was developed through extensive discussions with the AHRCs Council and Advisory Board as well as comments received from the research community gathered from the publication of a draft strategy, institutional visits, subject associations and learned society meetings, the Peer Review College and focus groups and town meetings. I took part in a number of meetings held here at Bournemouth, along with other panel members and recipients of AHRC funding.
Some of the key points relate to reflecting the value and importance of the arts and humanities research, so linking their funding more directly to the impact agenda of the REF. The aim is therefore to ensure the people, skills and research AHRC supports have a clear strategy for interacting with and impacting upon public life to bring cultural, intellectual and economic benefits to the UK and beyond.
The strategy is available here (http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News-and-Events/News/Documents/AHRC-Strategy-2013-18.pdf) while the website also contains further information in a variety of formats (http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News-and-Events/News/Pages/AHRC-Strategy-2013-2018.aspx). The message is clear however, if there is no clear pathway to impact the project will not be funded and it will no longer be acceptable to rely on academic publications as the only means for dissemination for research findings.