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New directions in Knowledge Exchange between Humanities academics, cultural organisations and creative practioners

Published: 23 July 2013
Knowledge Exchange Conference

Delegates at a major international conference hosted by English at Southampton and co-sponsored by the AHRC have been encouraged to share research stories and bring creativity and playfulness to their work.

 The conference, organised by Professor Catherine Clarke (English) explored the place of Knowledge Exchange in Arts and Humanities research and the ways in which creative collaborations, practice-based work and links with other organisations can transform scholarship.

The conference brought together 120 delegates and 60 speakers from the UK and beyond, including a delegation from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Plenary speakers included Anna Eavis (Curatorial Director, English Heritage), Matthew Dodd (Head of Speech Programming and Presentation, BBC Radio Three), John Stack (Head of Tate Online), Dominic Oldman (Deputy Head of IS and ResearchSpace Director, British Museum), Jo Sofaer (University of Southampton, Director of HERA-funded project on Bronze Age Europe) and Mark Llewellyn (AHRC Director of Research). Other participants included the Public Catalogue Collection, British Library and Opera North, two AHRC-funded Knowledge Exchange Hubs, and delegates from UK and international universities.

Speakers focused on Knowledge Exchange as a reciprocal, collaborative activity that can re-shape research questions and practices, as well as bringing benefits for the wider community. Mark Llewellyn (AHRC) emphasised how academics should think about Knowledge Exchange as part of the ‘evolutionary process’ of scholarship, rather than something bolted on at the end. Matthew Dodd (BBC) emphasised the importance of sharing not just research stories but also passion and enthusiasm through the media. Speakers also considered the place of affect, creativity and playfulness in academic research, the challenges of defining ‘success’, and the importance of a broad and inclusive understanding of what Knowledge Exchange means.

The conference opened with a concert in the historic setting of St Michael's Church, Southampton, directed by Dr Laurie Stras (Music). Dr Stras and her choir, the Celestial Sirens, performed a selection of 16th-century motets written for convents in Italy. It also saw the launch of the digital resources produced by Professor Clarke’s AHRC-funded Knowledge Transfer Fellowship ‘Discover Medieval Chester’.

Professor Clarke plans to take this work forward with a comparative project on Knowledge Exchange with partners in Hong Kong.

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