The University of London collaborates with numerous external partners, from businesses to community groups, for the benefit of the economy and society.
Our programme of work for academic year 21/22 aimed to increase further the effectiveness of the use of the funding awarded to us. Here’s a snapshot of some of the work we have done:
- Working with external partners to prototype, pilot and validate a Novel Objective Smell-Test (NOST) that could be used at home to assess Covid-related smell impairment, monitor progress and be evaluated for clinical use. This collaboration comes out of the Institute of Philosophy’s Centre for Olfactory Research and Applications and brings together sensory research, clinical medicine, patient groups and the smell loss charity, Absent.
- Institute of Historical Research interrogates the varied processes, politics and possibilities of ‘creative repurposing’ in local development, with a particular attention to uses of heritage assets in urban renewal. With partners Historic England and local collaborators across the UK (in local government, arts and culture, business and industry), the project will analyse specific case studies to extend and deepen understanding of what makes successful ‘creative repurposing’, informing future policy, strategy and best practice at both local and national levels. In addition to the creative re-use of historic buildings and built heritage, this project will also break new ground by examining how these processes of material renewal interact with the ‘creative repurposing’ of local stories, heritage and traditions: for example, recently, the re-imagining of Lady Godiva as a ‘champion’ of ‘activism and social justice’ in Coventry City of Culture.
- Three early-career research interns were appointed in April and are working on the case study locations of Barking & Dagenham, Coventry and Sunderland, with the support and advice of our lead partner Historic England where appropriate (for example, on Heritage Action Zones) and with local collaborators (including field trips). The project hosted an online public event on Wednesday 29 June, which attracted a diverse audience spanning academia, the heritage sector and other stakeholders, including some international attendance. Speakers included the project team, as well as Owain Lloyd James, Head of Places Strategy and Levelling Up at Historic England, and Catherine Croft, Director of the Twentieth-Century Society. The project team is currently working on the website, to feature the case-study reports, as well as a policy paper, to be published via History & Policy later in the summer. The project has received excellent engagement via social media. The project is already providing excellent career-development opportunities for the interns: one has just been appointed to a full-time position as Heritage Partnerships Co-ordinator at the University of Oxford, which she will take up in the autumn.
- A collaboration between a number of SAS institutes and Senate House Library to work with Artangel in planning an exhibition to take place in Senate House Library over a six-month period was launched in June 2021. The exhibition, A Thousand Words for Weather, conceived by the Taiwanese-Canadian, UK-based writer Jessica J Lee, began as a multi-lingual "dictionary" of affective weather words across ten languages – English, Arabic, Bengali, Spanish, French, Polish, Urdu, Mandarin, Turkish, and German. Ten London-based poets and translators were invited to choose ten words for the weather, translating each of these into the other languages of the dictionary. In this way, a web of words and their definitions were formed; a tentative step towards generating a shared language to describe our changing environment. This has been very well received to date. See here for Press response.
- A contribution was made to the University of London Research and Policy Partnership (LRAPP) initiative contributing to salaries, the Autumn LRAP conference which brings leaders together from across the capital to discuss the critical challenges facing the capital.
- We also contributed to the costs of a research project to map youth mentoring provision across London, including areas where need is greatest, and identify best practice. This research will help advance the New Deal for Young People (NDYP) that the Mayor of London and the London Recovery Board have identified as a priority mission.
- A proportion of the funding assisted in the establishment of a Head of Engagement and Knowledge Exchange in the university. Then role will work with partners to reach new audiences, establish new collaborations, drawing new and hard to reach communities into the world of advanced research. The university wishes to demonstrate the contribution that universities can make to public life and the role that cultural knowledge exchange and ‘citizen science’ might play in the research landscape of the future. The University is now shortlisting for this post which attracted 38 applications. Interviews take place mid-July.
- Engaging a consultant to analyse the Being Human Festival’s impact to date by reviewing the long evaluation reports to gather data; the website archive, interviewing stakeholders (researchers, external Public Engagement professionals, and community/cultural partners), searching the REF data for evidence of cited impacts around the BH festival.
A range of case studies will be produced, including;
‘Against Prejudice: Ira Aldridge in Coventry in 1828’ (Partners: Multicultural Shakespeare Project –Coventry UK City of Culture)
‘Recollecting popular music memories in Merthyr Tydfil’(Partners: University of South Wales, First Campus).
'The Dear Green Bothy’, a festival hub created to mark the arrival of COP26 in Glasgow and to host creative and critical responses to climate emergency (Partners: University of Glasgow, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Maryhill Integration Network, Tinderbox collective)
Further information from REF data will be included in the case studies where relevant.