Fusion Fund support for development of civically-engaged social sciences at BU

Fusion Investment Funds have been awarded under the Staff Mobility and Networking Strand to develop an interdisciplinary, cross-Faculty series of public/civic engagement ‘dialogues’ in the social sciences, drawing on national and international figures in the relevant fields. It will bring together leading academics and practitioners in a number of fields in the social sciences, building on areas already taught and researched at BU. It will be of contemporary relevance for the public and for students. Its contribution will be in the bringing together of non-academic experts, students, and members of the public, all in dialogue with academic experts.

The project team consists of a cross–Faculty team including Profs Ann Brooks (HSS) and Candida Yates (FMC), together with Professor Barry Richards (FMC). The team have already collaborated in bringing together a set of Research Degrees in the Social Sciences (MRes) and are committed to a broad based and civically engaged vision of social science at BU which gives prominence and visibility to student experience and public engagement. The title of the project is Distinguished Social Scientists Public Lecture Series – Dialogues in the Contemporary Social Sciences and builds on events held during Festival of Learning week at BU in July 2015, when two eminent UK social scientists shared their insights on how their research has contributed to an understanding of the social world.

The ‘Dialogues’ will cover the following areas:

  • Crime and Criminology – Representation and Reality
  • Education –Diversity and Opportunity
  • Evaluating Emotional Well-Being
  • Politics and the Media 

The project is about public/civic engagement and will have an immediate regional appeal in being the only high–profile series to be offered and well publicised in the region, one which combines experts from academia with senior figures from professional fields discussing issues of major public interest. The ‘dialogues’ will be filmed by BU students, and can have a national impact by being disseminated through both scholarly and professional websites, as well as attracting national media attention. The participation of internationally-known academics discussing issues which are debated across the world will give them some international reach and influence.

The series will involve students from HSS and FMC in the organisation, promotion and dissemination of the series and its ideas. The series will enable students to gain skills in event organisation, including liaising with speakers and delegates from different cultural groups. Alongside developing their social skills in that context, they will also contribute to the staging of the events as they happen and to the recording of the events through film and podcast. Students will also contribute to the actual content of the seminars as audience participants and hopefully in some cases be inspired to become researchers themselves.

The events will be organised in the period September 2015 to July 2016.

Posted by Profs Ann Brooks, Candida Yates and Barry Richards