Earlier this year members of the Religious Studies department – Dr John Maiden, Professor John Wolffe and Dr Gavin Moorhead – were awarded an ‘Engaging Research’ award by the Open University for their work on the ‘Building on History: Religion in London’ project. With this in mind, now seemed a good moment to reflect on the project.
The project was a knowledge exchange initiative, running between January 2012 and January 2013, which engaged religious publics in London with recent scholarship on the the city’s modern religious history.
Early in June, members of the Newsam Library & Archives met to discuss ways to better promote our services and collections to our users via Twitter. @IOELibrary joined Twitter in June 2011 and has gathered about 625 followers. We wanted to get a team, representing all the different sections in the Library (Collection Development, User Services, Technical Services and Administration), that would take responsibility for tweeting for @IOELibrary. We had no special requirements for the staff. They didn’t need to be experienced users of Twitter. We simply wanted interested people who had interesting things to say. ...continue reading →
An award-winning, externally-facing partnership with research at the core
I don't think of myself as an academic. Before I took on my current role as an Outreach Coordinator within the award-winning Floodplain Meadows research team at the Open University I'd worked for 12 years for the Environment Agency, delivering policy, legislation and proactive conservation projects ‘on the ground’ in Dorset, Wiltshire and a little bit of Hampshire. I'd worked with a wide range of conservation and community partners, occasionally getting cross with flood defence engineers. In short, I came to this job for a change!
I recently won one the the OU's first ever Engaging Research Awards. When I heard about the engaging research awards, I thought ‘hmn...How can there be an award for something which ought to be integral to any good piece of research? Isn’t engagement with publics the defining characteristic underlying all research endeavours? And how can one judge a piece of research to be more engaged than another?’
The more I thought about it, the more I realised how engagement with publics has been an underlying principle of the Our Story project. The story-making tablet/smartphone app (called “Our Story”) was developed in parallel with my PhD research and has led to a number of projects integral to my doctoral work but also expanding it to other areas, research institutions and publics.