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Supporting university cultural engagement

5 March 2013

Cardiff is one of 45 universities to have been awarded funding to help arts and humanities PhD students develop skills in relation to the wider impact of their research.

The three month projects, funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council's (AHRC) Cultural Engagement Fund pilot scheme will give students who have recently completed their PhD a chance to collaborate with cultural organisations. The aim is to maximise the benefits of arts and humanities research to non-academic users of research such as the public, community groups or practitioners.

At Cardiff, the money will fund two post-doctoral Research Associates in the University's Schools of History, Archaeology and Religion, and Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. Each will work closely with an academic mentor with substantial expertise in cultural engagement to develop a sense of best practice.

Professor Jenny Kitzinger, School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies will mentor on practitioner engagement based on her work with health-care professionals. Professor Keir Waddington and Dr Jacqui Mulville, both of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion will mentor on community engagement based on the School's substantial local archaeological work. Both research associates will then be charged with investigating other similar relationships across the University's humanities Schools and disciplines to further hone their skills.

The main objective of the Research Associates is to develop a best practice toolkit for designing, delivering and evaluating how non-HEI user groups benefit from academic research and to identify the most effective ways of implementing community and practitioner engagement initiatives. Not only will these Research Associates gain substantial knowledge of Cultural Engagement, but they will also be integral to training our next generation of researchers.

Professor Keir Waddington, Director of Research, School of History, Archaeology and Religion said: "The award is a fantastic opportunity to build collaborative links and embed cultural engagement more fully in the work we do. Through sharing ideas and experiences with the post holder, we can think about different ways to take our research out to new communities and learn from them."

Dr Ian Lyne, Associate Director of Programmes, AHRC commented: "The range of projects and the variety of local partners involved has been terrific. We have been hugely impressed by the number of universities that have decided to co-fund projects in order to create more opportunities for their recently completed PhD students."

The AHRC's Cultural Engagement Fund pilot scheme offered funding to strengthen or develop a university's broader strategy for supporting the engagement of its arts and humanities academic staff with local creative sector SMEs, or public and third sector cultural or civic organisations. To pilot the scheme it was open to those universities who have been in receipt of Block Grant Partnership funding. 

Each project will report back on their experience and how they developed their skills later in the year.