Interdisciplinary Research and Pandemics

Clare Anderson, Michael Barer, Timothy Coats, Sarah Davies, William Green, Anna Hansell, Maggy Heintz, Jason Hughes, Genovefa Kefalidou, Charlotte King, Julie Morrissey, Susan Page, Manish Pareek, Harjinder Sembhi, Joanna Story, Caroline Upton, Louise Wain, Mark Williams, Laura Meagher

Abstract


The Leicester Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS) was established in 2017 to provide a stimulating and collaborative environment for interdisciplinary research at the University of Leicester, and beyond. The programme of activity in LIAS has been designed to encourage and support researchers from across all academic disciplines to explore new ways of working together, and we have celebrated some amazing successes with interdisciplinary teams over the past three years. With the LIAS vision and values firmly embedded in the university’s research culture, we are always looking for new ways to support interdisciplinary excellence – and 2020 presented a new challenge and opportunity for LIAS in the form of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis is a global challenge that highlights why interdisciplinary research is so important, and it provides LIAS with an exciting opportunity to launch our first thematic programme of activity. The aim of this approach is to catalyse and galvanise an ambitious, challenge-led interdisciplinary research programme focused on pandemics (including, but not exclusive to, COVID-19). LIAS’ goal is to provide a platform for colleagues from all three faculties to build a thematic research community who will, together, develop and deliver transformative research.

Our first step was to convene an ‘Advanced Study Group’ (ASG). An ASG comprises research leaders across a range of disciplines, and provides an opportunity to work on ideas or interlinked research problems in order to set the landscape, priorities and potential sub-themes for the future programme. The ASG is intended to provide its members with the opportunity to think in new interdisciplinary ways, discuss and test ideas, and align the pandemics theme with University of Leicester research strengths. In order to support this goal, and provide independent and external feedback, we invited Dr Laura Meagher (Edinburgh) to be the ASG ‘Critical Friend’ and facilitator.

This Working Paper is the product of the ASG conversations, held in July 2020. It is evidence of the University of Leicester’s exceptionally collegiate and inclusive research environment, and the extraordinarily creative, confident thinkers who operate across our Colleges. It also speaks to the three values that underpin the pandemics thematic programme, and LIAS’s mission within Leicester more widely: interdisciplinarity, inclusivity, and integrity.

As we navigate our way through the pandemic as a university – and indeed as a city – the ASG has shown that by providing structures and processes by which we can work together, we can achieve more collectively than we can individually. I am excited to see what the pandemics programme will deliver in the coming months. We are, in this moment, Citizens of Change.


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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/lwps.202033606

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