On Thursday, 30th of June SDHI hosted a meeting entitled ‘Catching Up & Thinking Ahead’ as part of our annual reflection of SDHI’s direction of travel. The meeting, which was attended by students and staff from a wide range of Schools and Departments of both Dundee and St Andrews universities, engaged in a lively and cumulative discussions (World Café Style) with focus on three themes:
- Supporting local research capacity & capability building
- Supporting methodologically innovative & interdisciplinary research
- Doing research that matters
The themes were chosen to reflect SDHI’s past activities in all of these areas but more importantly to explore the currency of these topics in the context of structural changes within the universities over the past years and wider social and political drivers of change. At present we are summarising the cumulative findings from the afternoon but would like to provide a little ‘taster’ of the issues that have been discussed.
In relation to building and extending research capacity and capability, participants pointed to SDHI’s capability of providing mentorship and peer support for early career researchers and students. Moreover, it is a space for connecting with a wide network of academic interests. It is seen as an environment that fosters the development of transferrable skills and provides encouragement as well as tangible supports in terms of grant writing skills. There are opportunities to provide these services to other organisations, such as NGOs who wish to develop research and evaluation skills.
The interdisciplinary space that SDHI provides is seen as something that provides ‘direct answers to the impact agenda’. As a values based, open institute it is appreciated for the respectful dialogue, collaborative partnership opportunities and a plurality of methodological approaches.
Research that matters can be improved through even more immediate participatory engagement with stakeholders in the setting of research agendas. SDHI may contribute to the development of inclusive methodologies and processes in research and serves as a voice for human rights. There was an acknowledgement of the growing (awareness of) complexity of health and wellbeing issues and a perceived threat that health becomes increasingly commodified and economised. SDHI can play a meaningful role in revealing these tendencies. Research that ‘matters’ has to naturally embrace a large and diversified ‘tool box’ of methods that can be employed to answer a wide range of research questions.
Many more very valuable points were made that afternoon and provided very helpful impact to the SDHI team for planning future activities. Watch this space. The SDHI Team would like to thank everyone for their input and wish to hear from people who could not participate last week. If you have any thoughts and views around the three themes or any other comments, please let us know at sdhi @dundee.ac.uk