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Interdisciplinary Research Week 2016 Programme of Events

InterdisResWeek2The second Interdisciplinary Research Week (IRW) is being held from 25th to 29th January 2016. Join us at one or more of these free events to celebrate the breadth and excellence of Bournemouth University’s research, across it’s many disciplines.

This five day event includes a programme of lectures, art based events, film, discussions and healthy debate all designed to stimulate new ideas and examine important societal issues from across the globe.

Events also include funder visits from the Wellcome Trust who will be talking about their most recent collaborative project ‘Hubbub’ and why working across various disciplines, sectors and organisations is important to them as funders; and the British Academy who will share emerging findings from a project they are carrying out on interdisciplinary research. They are looking at how the whole higher education and research systems supports such research in terms of publishing, research funding, academic careers, teaching and beyond.  Both events promise to be popular both within BU and externally and so do book your places now through the links above.

The IRW events are open to everyone (only one event is for BU academics and researchers only) and bookable through EventBrite. Do check out the whole programme of events to see what might interest you and publicise the week to your friends and family.

Inspirational opening to the Interdisciplinary Research Week

The BU Dementia Institute kicked off the Interdisciplinary Research Week last night with an inspirational and interactive lecture on improving the lives of people affected by dementia in Dorset.

Professor Anthea Innes opened the week and then went on to explain the interdisciplinary research that her institute carries out and the importance of collaboration in the community.  She informed the audience how the language used to describe the people diagnosed with dementia can often be negative and derogatory and how people are often treated differently upon diagnosis.  The Institute work with care providers, hospitals, GPs, etc. to change their perception and enable better lives for those diagnosed with dementia.

Anthea handed over to her team to show some of the ways that lives can be improved and how a dementia diagnosis does not mean that you can no longer learn.  Andy Baker from the BUDI orchestra had half the audience clapping to the ‘oo-ah’ parts of ‘oo-ah Cantona, say oo-ah Cantona’ and the other half clapping to the ‘wood’ and ‘chuck’ in ‘how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood’.  This was not an easy task but a good demonstration of how to play your part in an orchestra.  He went on to show how his work had given people diagnosed with dementia the ability to learn something new and engage in a rewarding activity.

Clare Cutler then talked about the Intergenerational Technology club where school pupils have welcomed people with dementia and their carers into their schools to work together in an after school club where they have been learning to play on the wii, xbox and ipads together.  This way of working offers opportunities to educate younger generations about dementia and to combat associated stigma, ignorance and fear of what it might mean to live with dementia. 

Samuel Nyman ended the evening with an enthusiastic lecture on ‘Falls Prevention’ and how the amount of time we spend being sedentary increases our chances of falling and injuring ourselves.  Research has shown that the more active we are in our 30’s and 40’s will decrease our chances of developing dementia.  Samuel’s research is looking to develop behavioural change techniques that can be used to encourage a much more active lifestyle.  He showed a clip of people choosing to use an escalator instead of the stairs.  The stairs were transformed into a working piano overnight and usage of the stairs increased by 66% the next day. 

The IRW audience clapping to 'Oo-ah Cantona'

It was an excellent evening with a great opportunity for the audience to engage with the BUDI team.  I’ll end with just one of the positive comments from the audience, which was ‘Wonderful to hear from such enthusiastic and passionate presenters forging strong partnerships with those in the community. Many thanks.’

There are nine more interdisciplinary research events being held this week and so please do come along: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/interdisciplinary-research-week-2015/.  Today’s events are:

Is interdisciplinarity the future?

There is a lot of talk in the sector at present about the benefits of interdisciplinary research. But what exactly does this mean? The best definition I have found is from a report by The National Academies (2004) – “Interdisciplinary research is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.” (download the full report for free here).

At the HEFCE REFlections event last month there was a lot of talk about interdisciplinary research. Apparently most of the high-scoring impact case studies and outputs submitted to REF 2014 featured interdisciplinary research, and HEFCE are considering making interdisciplinary research a feature of the next REF assessment in which it could carry additional marks. They have commissioned Elsevier to conduct a review of interdisciplinary research with a view to the data feeding into the review of the REF and informing future exercises (read the sides here).

This seems a surprising turn of events, considering REF 2014 took so much flack in the months and years leading up to submission from academics who feared it would disadvantage interdisciplinary research. Ismael Rafols (University of Sussex), for example, claimed there is a systematic bias against interdisciplinarity in journal rankings, with the top-ranking journals covering a few specialist disciplines (read the full article here). In the run up to the REF submission there was concern that it wasn’t REF that was disadvantaging interdisciplinary research but institutions that were choosing not to submit it due to it being ‘too risky’ (see this article in The Guardian). But later articles started to look at how the REF actually benefited interdisciplinary researchers (for example, see this article in The Guardian).

The word from the HEFCE camp is that interdisciplinary research contributes to more world-leading research, as evidenced by it featuring in the highest scoring case studies and outputs, and that further interdisciplinarity is therefore beneficial and to be encouraged. Interdisciplinary research is one of the government’s research priorities and was listed, for example, as one of the UK research landscape’s strengths in the BIS science and innovation strategy.

Major funding initiatives are now more frequently interdisciplinary in nature, guided by the strategic priorities of major research funders, for example the Research Councils UK cross-council themes and the Horizon 2020 societal challenges.

There are inherent advantages to interdisciplinary research that are well known. Findings indicate that it is often in the spaces between disciplines from where innovative perspectives, collaborations and solutions emerge. Interdisciplinary researchers frequently speak of being more interested, engaged and stimulated by their work.

In support of interdisciplinarity, BU’s inaugural Interdisciplinary Research Week is taking place from 11-15 May. It includes a programme of lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and a film, all aimed at showcasing examples of the fantastic interdisciplinary research being undertaken at the University. It is open to staff, students and members of the public so please do come along.

Interdisciplinary Research Week

Join us to celebrate the breadth and excellence of Bournemouth University’s research across its many disciplines, and spark new collaborations and ideas among our diverse research community.

This week-long event, which runs from 11 to 15 May, includes a programme of lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and a film, all aimed at showcasing some of the fantastic research being undertaken at the university.

This event is open to staff, students and the general public and we would encourage you to forward on the information to friends and colleagues from other institutions, so they can join in with the celebration.

Visit the Research website to find out more.