Interdisciplinarity, Capability Development and Research that Matters: Impression from SDHI ‘Catch up and Thinking Ahead’ Meeting

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:

  1. Supporting local research capacity & capability building
  2. Supporting methodologically innovative & interdisciplinary research
  3. 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

Clear and unequivocal commitment to Europe and our partners

In the face of the ‘Brexit’ referendum SDHI would like to express its thanks to the many emails of support that have reached us from our European partners. We would like to assure you that – as the majority of academic institutions and partners in the UK and the majority of the Scottish public – we are committed to Europe and fully expect to remain key partners in research and development of the future. At the moment we are in a holding situation as a result of the fundamental lack of leadership from the UK government. However, for the time being we continue business as usual in anticipation of a continuation of the constructive working relationships with our partners in and beyond a Europe of collaboration.

Disability Research Edinburgh website launch & networking event

Disability Research Edinburgh (DRE) is a network of researchers whose work engages with disability.

The main aims of the group are to help raise the profile of disability research in the University of Edinburgh, and to provide a coherent and coordinated means of communication and collaboration between DRE members and the growing disability research community beyond Edinburgh.

Since late 2014, the network has been running a series of research seminars presented by DRE members and guest speakers. The group comprises around 60 members of staff and students from various disciplines, with contributions from researchers working in Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Australia.

This next event aims to provide members of the network, and anyone interested in the area of disability research, an opportunity to come together and celebrate the launch of our new website and to highlight the diversity of research in the field.

Speakers will include:

  • George Low, Disability Research Edinburgh
  • Professor Dorothy Miell, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor John M Davis, Professor of Childhood Inclusion, Moray House School of Education
  • Inclusion Scotland
  • Disability History Scotland, who will present their Lottery Funded animation One Last Push: the final Battle of World War One? This film provides a short history of disability in Scotland and questions how social attitudes towards disability have changed, developed and often stalled, from WWI to the present day.

Tea, coffee and cake will be provided.

Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements.

Find out about access to the venue. If you have any further queries about access, please do feel free to contact disability.research@ed.ac.uk.

Book for FREE via Eventbrite

The event is free to attend, and everyone is welcome, but please register in advance using Eventbrite.

More about Disability Research Edinburgh

DRE was established by George Low, a PhD student in the Reid School of Music. His research explores the challenges facing disabled musicians, like himself, and aspiring musicians with disabilities, by attempting to identify the physical, psychological and social barriers they encounter.

In establishing a “collaborative space that would encourage interdisciplinary engagement”, George was supported by his PhD supervisors – Professor Raymond MacDonald and Professor Dorothy Miell – and by Dr Katie Overy, Co-director of the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD).

Within ECA, DRE has developed links with groups such as Creative Interdisciplinary Research in Collaborative Environments (CIRCLE), the Scottish Music and Health Network (SMHN) and OPENspace research centre, while linkages beyond the University include the Social Dimensions of Health Institute at the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews.

The network has recently been awarded funding by the Institute of Academic Development.

15th June 2016
14:00 – 17:00
Main Lecture Theatre (E22), ECA Main Building, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh

Exciting week for SDHI

It has been a very exciting week for SDHI. Over the past 7 days, we hosted a major European conference on emergent themes in mental health and addiction with over 70 delegates from 13 countries at the University of St Andrews, IMG_3518we were principal collaborators in a Scottish Universities Insights Institute (SUII) funded 2 day workshop series at the International Futures Forum home turf in the boathouse in Aberdour on understanding and fostering cultures of transformative innovation using health and social care SUII group photointegration as an example with delegates from as far as Australia, ran a postgraduate and early career researcher annual retreat in Kindrogan with students and academics from multiple disciplines from Dundee and St Andrews universities, and chaired on behalf of the Scottish Improvement Science Collaborating Centre (SISCC) a combined workshop and advisory group meeting with pharmacists, GPs, academics and members of third sector organisations and the public at large on two workstreams: physical activity promotion in community-dwelling older adults and medicines prescribing safety. Moreover, SDHI Associate Director Dr Ed Hall and Dr Irena Connon presented a Dundee University Cafe Arts presentation to the general public on the Innovate UK co-funded collaborative project with Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSE PD) on vulnerability and power failure.

The events and activities epitomise the diversity, vibrancy, creativity and organisational competence and expertise of SDHI. They are a reflection of the excitement, support, collaborative ethos and respect that the Institute has attracted over now more than 13 years. We just want to stop for a moment and thank our friends and colleagues for their engagement and support that make these events and activities so special.

Power to the People – What Happens When The Lights Go Out – Tuesday 7th June, 6pm

On Tuesday 7th June at 6pm at Dundee Arts Café, The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum, Dr Ed Hall and Dr Irena Connon from the University of Dundee will discuss stories of vulnerability and resilience collected from four very different communities. Irena and Ed’s research will help energy companies to plan and respond effectively when future storms reach our shores.

During the winter of 2014 the UK was hit by an exceptional run of winter storms, leading to Power to the peopleserious coastal damage and widespread flooding. This extreme weather caused disruption to electricity supply across the country, with over 100,000 people facing several days without power.

The loss of power affected remote and urban communities, with vulnerable people considered to be at a greater risk. The companies responsible for maintaining and repairing the electricity infrastructure asked themselves how they could improve their support communities before, during and after power cuts.

Everyone is welcome. Free. Non-bookable. Places are limited so please arrive early to avoid disappointment. Doors open at 5pm.

Families – the missing dimension in health promotion

New journal article in the American Journal of Public Health, co-authored by a US, Finnish, Scottish team highlights the importance of recognising the family as a critical nexus between individually and community focused health promotion efforts. The paper draws on empirical experiences in the area of cancer from the US and Finland on working with families as a system of co-survivors.

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