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South West Summit showcases the role of SHAPE interdisciplinarity in addressing global challenges

South West Summit showcases the role of SHAPE interdisciplinarity in addressing global challenges

Members of the British Academy’s Early Career Researcher Network (British Academy ECRN) South West Hub gathered in Bath on Tuesday 12th September for a Summit, delivered as part of the network’s ambition to foster interdisciplinary collaboration for ECRs in the SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy) disciplines.

The Summit, which was attended by around 70 South West-based ECRs and contributors, was an opportunity for members to reconnect with peers, reflect on the networks’ activities to date and discuss the benefits of interdisciplinarity to enhance research and solve modern global challenges.

Organised by GW4, in collaboration with Bath Spa University and the University of Bath, the event featured exciting talks from a host of speakers, including Professor Julie Barnett of the University of Bath, who explored the intrinsic importance of SHAPE research and Professor John Strachan, of Bath Spa University, who emphasised the role of the British Academy ECRN in facilitating opportunities for collaboration across the ECR community.

Interdisciplinary networking sessions, which explored methods for identifying areas of overlap across several different priority topics, highlighted how collaboration can be used to uncover new methodologies and ways of studying, as well as forming new projects which frame and examine important research questions in a different light.

Professor Julie Barnett, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Bath, said: “The SHAPE disciplines are absolutely essential for addressing some of the most intractable global challenges of today. We are students of challenges and problems, not subjects, and there is a clear benefit to fostering interdisciplinarity, across SHAPE and beyond, in order to drive impactful research outcomes. Events such as the British Academy’s ECRN South West Hub Summit are a vital way to bring together ECRs from across different disciplines and support them with the skills needed for collaborative working.”

Professor John Strachan, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Bath Spa University, also said: “Being part of the British Academy’s ECRN South West Hub has enabled us to work collectively, across institutions, to ensure that our ECRs are developing the skills and experience needed to work across interdisciplinary projects. It is great to be part of a forum which is specifically dedicated to harnessing the skills of those in the humanities and social sciences.”

Professor Simon Swain FBA, Vice-President Research and Higher Education Policy, at the British Academy, said: “The British Academy’s ECRN South West Hub Summit Event demonstrated the power of connecting ECRs from across the SHAPE disciplines, in order to develop shared mechanisms for creating solutions for areas of mutual interest. I came away from the day reflecting positively on the achievements made by the South West Hub, since its launch, as well with a great sense of optimism about the potential for SHAPE researchers to address global challenges.”

Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE, GW4 Alliance Director, said: “The GW4 Alliance has long been a proponent of driving research outcomes through interdisciplinary collaborative working. We’re delighted to have worked with the British Academy ECR Network, and members of the South West Hub, on this Summit Event, which has served as a shining example of the value of the SHAPE disciplines in helping us to make sense of the world and drive positive change.”


Further information:

The British Academy Early Career Researcher Network South West Hub

The British Academy ECR Network, which is supported by the Wolfson Foundation, brings together ECRs from across the humanities and social sciences disciplines. It is designed to create opportunities for researchers to develop their skills and provide them with additional opportunities and experiences that will enhance their careers.

By signing-up, researchers can connect with peers and share knowledge and experiences, as well as gain access to apply for specific pools of funding – including Seed and Development Funding.

Find out more and sign-up today on the British Academy’s website.

Seed Funding Awards

This year’s British Academy ECRN South West Hub Seed Funding Awards, providing ECRs in humanities and social sciences grants of up to £3k for support the direct costs associated with activities that support new research, the development of new stakeholder relationships, broadening knowledge of a sector, future career options or accessing resources and facilities, are open until midday on 27th September. Find out more and apply via our website.

Development Funding Awards

Applications are also open on an ongoing basis for the British Academy’s ECRN South West Hub Development Funding Awards. The fund provides an opportunity for ECRs to hold an event, with expenses of up to £3000, which promote networking, collaboration, knowledge sharing or develops skills throughout the region, and can be extended to the wider ECR network if appropriate. Find out more in our recent update.


Further Reading

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter