Looking to the Horizons

One of the fundamental foundations of BU2018 is that we should take an outward looking perspective, a look beyond the campus boundary.  It is a significant feature within our commitment to societally led research and our commitment to Professional Practice as a core component of Fusion.  This practice is about engagement with external stake holders contributing via thought leadership and research but above all else listening and channelling that information inward to ensure that the research we do is relevant to the big issues our society faces and that the education we deliver also meets society’s needs.  It is the difference between a self-determined research and educational agenda – ‘we know best’ – to one that places listening and responding to societal need at its core.  It is this idea that lies behind our eight societal research themes which have been live now for over 18 months.  They act as shop windows for our research, as vehicles for inter-disciplinary and cross-university collaboration and as a rallying point for our different research communities. 

They were informed at inception by the key themes identified by funding councils and government strategy, filtered through our bespoke academic footprint.  It was always intended that there would be an element of Darwinian competition between them and that they would change over time to reflect emerging strengths within the organisation and changing external agenda. 

I launched a quick review of the research themes at the start of 2013 and after some discussion within the University Research and Knowledge Exchange (URKE) Committee some changes were recommended to strengthen our proposition and to ensure visibility of some of our core strengths.  The explicit recognition (and also control) of subthemes was one outcome, as was the recognition of Aging and Dementia as a separate theme in light of the fantastic work of BU Dementia Institute.  The total number of themes remains at eight and the list below provides confirmation of the changes agreed by the URKE Committee and will come into enforce from the September. 

1. Creative, Digital and Cognitive Science

  • NCCA
  • Big Data Centre
  • Creative Design
  • Software systems and security
  • Cognition in Action

2. Communities, Cultures and Conflicts NCPQSW

  • Crisis and conflict
  • Diversity and difference
  • Past peoples and societies

 3. Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth

  • Centre for Entrepreneurship

4. Biodiversity, Environmental Change and Green Economy

  • Biodiversity
  • Green economy and sustainability

5. Lifelong Health and wellbeing

  • Psychology, health and human fulfilment
  • Health and practice development

6. Leisure, Recreation and Tourism  

7. Ageing, Society and Dementia      

8. Technology and Design

  • Medical and robotic engineering
  • Renewable technology
  • SMART technology