In spring 1931, the BBC transmitted six weekly radio programmes, under the title Science in the Making, as part of its adult education provision.
Each week a different scientist outlined his area of research, and in five cases invited listeners to report their observations of phenomena described in the programme.
Topics included the factors affecting the start of breeding season of birds, the advance of the grey squirrel in Britain, the perception of sound, and the pervasiveness of certain types of dream.
Science in the Making was thus an early venture into ‘citizen science’ and one broadcast led to an academic-journal article. This presentation gives the story of Science in the Making, and looks at a second series the following year that concentrated on social science.
Allan Jones is a Lecturer in the Department of Computing and Communications, part of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing & Technology in the Open University.
When I got an email from Richard Holliman about an Open University (OU) media skills training course, it took me all of 30 seconds to double-check with my PhD supervisor and sign up. I’d previously attended a one-day event with the Royal Society, and was keen for a more in-depth course. I had no idea what to expect, but was excited to hear that the aim of the course would be to build up the skills needed to design, produce and edit a short film.
From the 2nd to 6th June I worked with fellow OU PhD students Frazer Bird, Jamie Dorey, Hnin Myint, and Phillipa Smith, under the expert guidance of presenter Janet Sumner, cinematographer Gerard Giorgi-Coll and Assistant Producer Tom Ryan to create a short film about a collaborative research project between the OU and the Field Studies Council (FSC), an environmental education charity that provides opportunities for people of all ages to engage in fieldwork. You can watch the results of our efforts by selecting the video below.
The Floodplain Meadows Partnership is a research project based on key academic work carried out at the Open University by Professor David Gowing and others on the response of species-rich floodplain meadows to changes in management, particularly hydrological changes. The partnership recently received an Evidencing Engaged Research seed funding award to look at the impact that advice from the project has had on site managers and sites across the UK. ...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!
The Open University is over 40 years old. To celebrate this anniversary the university decided to document the rich social history of the OU.
As a social historian I was delighted to be given the opportunity to lead this project. Below I document some of the contributions Open University students have made to an open research agenda.
Constructing distributed publics of learners
Since it was opened to students in 1971 The Open University’s structures and pedagogies have shifted the notion of public research. A ‘public’, Michael Warner argued, is formed when texts (in the broadest sense) circulate among strangers and enable those people, through those texts, to organize together and to have experiences in common. ...continue reading →
Change takes time, persistence, commitment, care, collective action. How does this fit with academic pressures to produce journal publication after journal publication and busy teaching commitments?
If you're into social and environmental change, there's a tension, a challenge with coming at change from an academic perspective where your contributions to wider society and the environment might not be valued. For me, the reward, is a feeling - not money, not promotion - but a sense that day-by-day a different world is crafted when our work is shaped by outside influences and we are ourselves open to change.