The following text outlines the aims, intentions and provides context for the workshop organised by The Nexus Network and hosted by the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity, on 1 May 2018. A full report on the day, and reactions from participants, will be available soon.
Our entry point for the workshop will be reflections on the capabilities and capacity required to carry out transdisciplinary research. The capabilities required for transdisciplinary practice include the disciplinary
knowledge as well as the skills, know-how and tacit knowledge we pick up formally or informally along the way. The capacity – or aggregated capabilities – of research teams is indicated by the programme portfolios
and their national and international funding agencies. We will reflect on the role of the Nexus Network role in this system. A significant part of our commitment to transdisciplinary research has been our small grants
programme. Over three years, the ESRC Nexus Network awarded grants totalling more than £700,000 to 27 project teams across the UK. These ranged in size from £5,000 to £150,000. We are delighted that researchers
from each of our final Partnership Programme grants join us at this workshop to help reflect on their experiences of planning, doing and managing transdisciplinary research at the coalface.
Measures, maps and narratives
From reviewing the reports on research carried out by Nexus Network grantees, it is clear that there is significant value in this work that derives not simply from the qualities of the interlinked objects and domains, but
rather the social and subjective processes involved in doing the linking. In other words, what matters is the means by which knowledges, methods and practices are brought together. The workshop theme of ‘maps, measures and narratives’ offers us the means to interrogate these processes. With maps, we take another view of the world, reflecting on different kinds of borders, boundaries, connections and linkages that shape our work. In the workshop, we will use maps – both cartographically and metaphorically – to reconstruct, reflect, learn and, we hope, to tell us something about the world we do not already know. In doing so, we encourage a plural approach to the subjects, objects and measurements required in the construction of our maps and the development of narratives that emerge from this process.
Towards future research
In the final session of the workshop, we will turn our attention towards the present and the future. Capabilities are not only a necessary input for research, but are an emergent output. They are an often vital, if overlooked form of impact. Since the establishment of the Nexus Network in 2014, we have seen emerge new ways of considering interlinked domains and new calls for interdisciplinary and transdisicplinary approaches for tackling them. Not least of these is Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. To what extent do the knowledges and methods and capabilities enhanced or created through Nexus coincide
with such new agendas and targets?
Finally, the workshop will focus on practical experiences and how we can put them to use. So, while we have minimised the number of conference-style presentations today, please do come prepared to talk about your own
experience as a researcher, practitioner or funder. The workshop cannot work without your shared experiences, be they positive or negative. We encourage both.
Cian, Becky, Andy and the Nexus Network team.