The second SHAPE-ID Learning Case Workshop (20-21 January 2020, Edinburgh) gathered experienced researchers from the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) together with funders, policy makers and representatives from other international bodies. By bringing an environmental humanities lens to bear on interdisciplinary collaborations, we hoped to learn more about potential enablers to facilitate AHSS integration in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research (IDR/TDR).
Following three short “scene-setting” presentations to share case studies of AHSS involvement in IDR/TDR, participants engaged in co-design activities discussing the development of interdisciplinary research projects, critiquing funding calls and proposing appropriate peer review processes. You can read a brief summary of the event here.
The language prevalent in call texts was seen as very instrumental, instructive (rather than questioning) and likely to lead to interdisciplinary “tokenism”. This approach was interpreted as a lack of trust in researchers where the Arts and Humanities (AH) were treated as a “compensatory presence” rather than having a role in defining research agendas.
Three broad areas for improvement were identified:
- Writing the call: how calls are written is critical to promoting the inclusion and integration of different disciplinary perspectives;
- Application processes: a two-stage application process involving an initial proposal, followed by an invited full proposal, may encourage more risk-taking;
- Peer review: innovative IDR/TDR proposals need suitable evaluators, which requires academics to sign up as reviewers. There are currently too few AH academics doing so.
Participants also highlighted a need for greater knowledge exchange and media training to enable the AH community to communicate the value of their research domains.
We shall be thinking further about these workshop outcomes as the project progresses and incorporating some of these aspects into the final SHAPE-ID toolkit. A report synthesising insights and presenting the outcomes of all six learning case workshops will be published once the workshop series is complete.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis our remaining three workshops have been postponed. We expect them to take place in Autumn 2019. Please get in touch if you would like further information.