The best public engagement is underpinned by world-class research. In March, the Institute of Philosophy’s Centre for the Study of the Senses held a launch event for the national charity Fifth Sense that brought together leading researchers, clinicians, campaigners and loss-of-smell sufferers to raise awareness of the effect on people’s quality of life if they lose their sense of smell.
What we know as ‘taste’ is really taste, touch and smell;
you don’t have strawberry receptors on your tongue, for
example – that’s all smell.
– Professor Barry Smith, Institute of Philosophy
The Centre for the Study of the Senses often calls on its wide range of international partners to create events that bring the latest findings to the national subject communities and the wider public. Its launch event for Fifth Sense included an international workshop, open to all interested parties, that featured leading researchers on olfaction (the sense of smell) from philosophy, psychology and neuroscience.
Jay Gottfried (Chicago) discussed the close connection of sense of smell to memory and emotion; Juyan
Lim (Oregon) explained why odours reaching our nose from the mouth are experienced as tastes.
Ilona Croy, from Europe’s leading centre for the study of olfaction in Dresden, and Spanish philosopher, Marta Tafalla, spoke about the many roles smell plays in everyday life. Marta, who was born without a sense of smell, and unable to taste most flavours, spoke movingly about her search to find out what she was missing. Philosophers and psychologists from the universities of Glasgow, Oxford, Roehampton and Warwick were invited to comment on these talks.
The following day, the team from the Centre joined together with clinicians, medical researchers, campaigners and anosmia (loss of smell) sufferers from Fifth Sense to explore life without this sense. Patients spoke of the emotional changes the loss had caused, while others spoke of ways to work around the condition. Fifth Sense founder Duncan Boake and Professor Barry Smith (director of the Institute of Philosophy), spoke about the role of smell in creating the experience of flavour. Duncan revealed how his interest in food now focused on texture and the basic tastes of sweet and sour, salt and bitter, and he offered advice to anosmia sufferers to enhance their experience of eating.
The day’s event generated a lot of press attention and raised awareness of how important our
often-neglected sense of smell is, and researchers from the workshop spoke of the importance and
significance that patients’ testimonies gave to their research.
Magna Carta has inspired some of today’s fundamental liberties, yet it began life 800 years ago as a practical solution to a political crisis. It has since evolved to become an international symbol of freedom, and with the creation of the largest exhibition ever staged about this celebrated document, we now have an opportunity to uncover the story of how its power has been used – and abused – from its genesis through to today’s popular culture. Continue reading →
The conference (organised by the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Classical Studies) will explore the impact of Greek Tragedy on intellectual and cultural history, on the visual arts, philosophy, politics, rhetoric and literature, including the development and character of European and other theatrical traditions. The proceedings will be jointly published by the two Institutes as Supplements to the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies.
Organisers: Peter Mack (Warwick) and John North (UCL)
Speakers: Erika Fischer-Lichte (Freie Universitaet Berlin), Katie Fleming (Queen Mary London), Edith Hall (Kings College London), Fiona Macintosh (Oxford), Anthony Ossa-Richardson (Queen Mary London), Valentina Prosperi (Sassari), Elina Pyy (Helsinki) Andrea Rodighiero (Verona), Hanna Roisman (Colby College), Ruth Webb (Lille) and Gerald Wildgruber (Basel)
Historians don’t often like to think about data management. Indeed, it is almost considered an ugly word or a taboo. Data Management gets in the way of the interesting stuff – the research, the learning. Nevertheless, it is vital to the work that we do. History is data. It is the essential essence of the subject. Yet, it is so easy to leave your folder system in a complete mess or not to consider issues of preservation or back-up until necessary (or until your hard drive dies on you!). Stuff that you produce now, for current use is understandable, but 6 months down the line, a year? Perhaps not so much.
It is for this reason that the Institute of Historical Research in partnership with the Department of History at the University of Hull and Sheffield, as well as the Humanities Research Institute (Sheffield), have produced this online resource to guide postgraduate students in the processes of looking after their research.
The online course – Managing your Research – offers students the opportunity to create a data management plan which can be used to help guide their research and used as evidence of a well thought out research project for supervisors, funding bodies, and potential employers. Using videos, handbooks, and exercises to guide the researcher through the relevant information, the course is designed to be of practical use for anyone starting or undertaking a research project.
To mark the launch our new Public Engagement Innovators Scheme, which offers small grants to fund public engagement activities within the School and the Senate House Libraries – this post reflects on the importance of integrating public engagement into the School’s mission to ‘promote and support research in the humanities’.
As we all know, the School of Advanced Study is an institution that exists to ‘to promote and facilitate research in the humanities’. But what does that mean in practice? Of course the School hosts a fantastic range of often free and public lectures, seminars and symposia. It supports research networks with an international reach, and looks after some of the most important collections in the world in its various libraries. There’s a lot going on.
But what about public engagement with all that activity? The School hosts a huge amount of conferences and seminars, many of which are ‘open to all’, but do ‘the public’ actually come to these? Maybe some do, but are they really ‘engaging’? The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s (NCCPE) defines engagement in the following terms:
Public engagement describes the many ways in which higher education institutions and their staff and students can connect and share their work with the public. Done well, it generates mutual benefit, with all parties learning from each other through sharing knowledge, expertise and skills. In the process, it can build trust, understanding and collaboration, and increase the sector’s relevance to, and impact on, civil society.
In other words, engagement should be a two-way street, with opportunities for both academic experts and non-academic audiences to learn from one another. Indeed if it is done well public engagement should draw such distinctions into question.
Being Human offers a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. In its first year it saw over 160 free events taking place across the country, hosted by well over 100 universities, cultural and community organisations. From a programme of events in the festival ‘hub’ in Senate House to activities in places as remote as the Orkney Isles in the Outer Hebrides, the festival was a wonderful demonstration of SAS working in its national role. It showed how well placed the School is to influence culture-change in public engagement in the humanities not only in relation to its own academic activities and collections but also in a much broader register.
The new Public Engagement Innovators Scheme is designed to provide some resources for students, staff and fellows within the School and Senate House Libraries to run their own public engagement activities. As its name suggests, it is designed to encourage new ideas in this field and provide a way for people to experiment with what does and doesn’t work. The call, which offers a limited number grants of up to£2k to fund engagement activities, launches today. It offers opportunities to provide programming for either of the School’s two main outlets for public engagement activity: the Bloomsbury Festival (22-25 October) and the Being Human festival of the humanities (12-22 November). Have a read and get involved!
Read more about Public Engagement at the School of Advanced Study here.