Across the world there is growing interest in projects & initiatives that will address the global challenges that confront society, for example: the demands of an ageing population; sustainability & climate change; future urban environments, immigration and migration; the impact of new technologies and developments in healthcare and wellbeing.
Outlined below are examples of recent workshops designed to support the interdisciplinary projects & initiatives needed to tackle global challenges. Each workshop has followed a similar process involving: introductions and briefings on the theme or topic under consideration; exchange of information and perspectives between participants; identification of common ground and areas of mutual interest; project building and reflection on project outcomes.
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Carbon Crucible Workshop, NESTA & UK Energy Research Centre (University of Oxford), Edinburgh
The Carbon Crucible programme bought together climate change scientists and researchers from other disciplines to explore future research project portfolios focusing on carbon reduction. The two-day workshop mapped individual research interests, each researcher constructed a map of their past experience, current research interests and future research ambitions. Future scenarios when then explored by creating large floor maps of future patterns of climate change. This allowed future knowledge needs to be identified. A road map of research projects needed to deliver on the climate change agenda was then mapped out. The workshop was organised as part of NESTA’s Crucible Research programme for early career researchers.
Creative Economy Workshops, UKRI China, AHRC, Shanghai City of Design, Shanghai Theatre Academy, Shanghai, China
Two international Creative Economy workshops have been held in Shanghai to develop new interdisciplinary projects that bring together researchers and creative businesses from the UK and the Shanghai region of China to work on research questions of mutual interest. During workshop activity the opportunities and challenges of working between the UK and China were explored. Research projects were identified exploring bringing heritage to new audiences, the role of design, immersive experiences in the performing arts, new forms of video games, new ways of developing content suitable for audiences in East & West.
Humanities Knowledge Transfer Workshop, HERA (Humanities in Europe Research Association) & ESF (European Science Foundation), Vienna, Austria.
This one-day workshop explored knowledge transfer opportunities at the launch of the HERA Joint Research Programme for the theme ‘Humanities as a source of creativity & innovation’. The workshop was designed to allow 60 researchers from across Europe to identify common ground within research projects and explore shared knowledge transfer activities. The ESF have now used this format in subsequent workshops.
Design & Communities Sandpit Workshop, AHRC, UK Design Council & CABE, Baltic, Gateshead.
This two-day workshop was organised as part of the RCUK Cross-Council Connected Communities Programme. 25 participants explored potential future research agendas on design, cultures and communities. Participants shared and discussed their individual perspectives and methods, individual research interests were then mapped and a series of shared research themes identified. The projects developed through the workshop were then developed into a series of proposals for an AHRC funded research-call on design and communities research.
Designing for the 21st Century (D21) Initiative, Research Workshop Series, AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) and EPSRC (Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council). Bristol, London & Glasgow, UK.
The AHRC and EPSRC Designing for the 21st Century (D21) Initiative supported 41 interdisciplinary research projects across the UK. The projects were run in two phases over a 5-year period. To bring the community of over 200 researchers and industrial collaborators working on the projects together a series of six workshops were held across the UK to support knowledge exchange.
Workshop 1: Phase 1 Objective sharing. London. This one-day workshop was for the Principal and Co-Investigators from the Phase 1 Projects. The initial phase of the D21 initiative featured 21 twelve-month network projects, each exploring different roles for design in the 21st Century. At the workshop presentations were made by the networks. The 60 participants then identified the five main objectives of their research projects and through workshop activities linked these to the generic objectives of the D21 Initiative as a whole.
Workshop 2: Phase 1 Reflection & Projection Workshop. Glasgow. This three-day workshop was held for 75 participants from the Phase 1 Network Projects, representatives from the AHRC & EPSRC and members of the D21 Advisory Group. Workshop activities were designed to:
- Explore the new knowledge and understanding that Phase 1 projects were suggesting would be needed to support design activity in 2020.
- Map out the collective portfolio of research projects that were being considered by all 21 networks in Phase 2 of the D21 initiative.
- Help define the criteria that could be used to evaluate future research projects associated with the D21 Phase 2 project call.
Workshop 3: Phase 2 Project Planning. London. This one-day workshop explored the project plans of the Phase 2 Research Projects. Phase 2 of the initiative supported more substantial research projects of up to 3 years in duration. In the workshop participants from each of the projects annotated 36-month time-lines, these were bought together to allow connections between the 20 projects to be identified.
Workshop 4: Research Methods Mapping Workshop. London. This one-day workshop for 60 participants explored the nature of research methods being used within the Phase 2 research projects. This review explored the interdisciplinary research methods that were outlined in the original project proposals and the methods that had been developed during each project.
Workshop 5: Interdisciplinary discovery through design. London. This one-day event was organised to explore how design researchers had worked with academics from other disciplines such as medicine, management, and technology on complex interdisciplinary projects. The 100 workshop delegates then explored how a design perspective made a constructive contribution to interdisciplinary problem solving. Key contributions of a design approach included: prototyping, mapping, visualisation, testing, user observation, creative methods and communication.
Workshop 6: Mapping past present and future projects. Bristol. This one-day workshop was organised to explore the research experience of all 41 project teams within both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the D21 initiative. Participants mapped out their research projects and interests over the five-year period of the D21 initiative. The future research project funding landscape was then reviewed and a portfolio map of future research project was developed. Participants then explored potential future research collaborations.