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AHRC’s Emerging Themes & Connected Communities

   | 01 gen 2010


Overview of AHRC’s Future Research Strategy and Themes


RCUK review of current cross-Council themes, gaps & emerging areas for the next Spending Review period in 2008/9, informed by Councils’ own emerging strategies consultations

Further consultations (e.g. AHRC Future Directions & Advisory Board, cross-Council expert workshop in June 2009, discussions with a range of stakeholders) in 2009/10

In parallel growing policy timeliness (e.g. current debates localism, ‘Big Society’ etc)

Programme Vision

To mobilise the potential for increasingly connected communities to enhance self-prosperity, sustainability, health & well-better connecting research, stakeholders communities.


To contribute to:

community self-reliance

community resilience

active citizenship

flourishing diverse & cohesive

communities health & well-being


cultural vibrancy

sustainable development

What do we mean by ‘Community’?

For the purposes of this Programme, and subject to further consultation, we are currently thinking of ‘communities’

cooperative or interactive groups sharing a virtual or physical environment and aspects of identity (such as location, ethnicity, age, history, occupation), culture, belief or common bonds and/or a shared interest in particular issues outcomes”.

We recognise that such communities are nested and overlap are interested both in the relationships within these communities and the interactions between communities their outcomes for broader society and economy.

Why Connected?

In terms of the research:

Improve understanding of both the changing connections between individuals and groups within communities and connections between different communities – communities complex webs of inter-connections - and their implications future society.

Examine the connections between communities and their broader environments – spaces, places and institutions how this can help inform future community-based approaches

Explore connections between research issues often considered in isolation to deliver more integrated understanding of the roles of, and impacts on, communities.

Why Connected?

In terms of how the Programme will achieve its objectives:

Connect researchers, knowledge and data from across disciplines to deliver more integrated understanding

Connect UK and international research

Connect researchers, stakeholders and communities in co-production of knowledge and knowledge exchange.

Connect research funders to enhance co-ordination and alignment of activities and promote partnerships and collaboration to maximise added value from the currently highly fragmented research field and address strategic

Activities in 2010/11

Connected Communities ‘Summit’ Birmingham held in June follow-up development activities now being supported

Civility project (AHRC, ESRC, Young Foundation)

Collaboration with CABE on ‘Beauty’ (AHRC)

BIS SIN US network event on communitarianism

Workshop on ‘crime & communities’, 27 July 2010 & 9 follow-projects to start shortly

Workshop on ‘Design & Communities’ with Design Council 2011

AHRC Museums & Galleries Programme event in September

Current Opportunities

Call to apply to attend a research development workshop of the cultural & creative economy in creating prosperous communities in December 2010 (closing date 5 November

Fellowship in collaboration with RSA Citizen Power in Peterborough Programme (closing date 26 November 2010

Scoping studies and Research reviews, closing date 26 November 2010

Highlight notice in AHRC’s research networking and fellowships schemes (Open deadlines)

Highlight notice AHRC’s collaborative doctoral awards scheme (closing date 4 November 2010)

AHRC Emerging Themes: Background

‘Future Directions’ consultation (Feb-May 2009)

Advisory Board analysis of outcomes

Further consultation e.g. with key partners & Subject Associations

Development by Advisory Board & Council

Themes still being developed through consultation, with small working group being established for each theme advise on further development

Emerging Themes: Development

Emerging Themes not the same as current AHRC strategic programmes – seen as collection of strategic activities contributing to the theme

Consideration of international, knowledge exchange, capacity building and public policy implications & activities, will be as appropriate from the outset

Budget for new themes built into AHRC future funding scenarios as a high priority in order to maintain strategic investments current AHRC programmes end

Emphasis on using current funding mechanisms and on targeted activities building larger consortia grants and partnership activities, rather than new research programmes

Care for the Future

How the past can inform future thinking

Visions of the future (philosophy, religions, art & literature, foresight, etc)

Custodianship of cultural heritage for future generations

Processes and lived experiences of change

Future ethical, moral, cultural & social landscapes

Changing civic values, perceptions of trust, intergenerational equity, notions of ‘care’ and ‘caring’, philanthropy, etc

Potentially covers a wide range of domains e.g. constitutional change, crime & law, sustainable development, role

Care for the Future

Builds upon:

AHRC Programmes such as:

Science & Heritage

Landscape & Environment

Museums & Galleries

Contributes to


Connected Communities


Cultural Heritage European JPI

Possible LWEC collaborations

Digital Transformations

How digital technologies can transform arts & humanities research e.g. through new opportunities for analysing and interpreting cultural artefacts, new creative opportunities, potential for an ‘infinite archive’, & managing, organising exchanging knowledge & understanding

How it can transform access and engagement between arts humanities research and different publics

What does it mean to be human in a digital age? Raises complex issues such as responsibility, privacy, intellectual property, security, identity etc

How it is transforming some of the objects/foci of arts and humanities , e.g. changing cultures, language & communication, performance etc

Digital Transformations

Builds upon:

ICT Programme


Beyond Text

Contributes to:

Digital Economy Programme


Digging into data with US & Canada

Collaboration with British Library in India

Possible ‘ideas collision’ event / consortia development workshop in 2011

Proposed copyright centre

Translating Cultures

Need for diverse cultures to understand & communicate with each other

Role of ‘translation’ & cultural interactions in ensuring that languages, values, beliefs, histories & narratives can be mutually shared and comprehended

Role of cultural understanding in a globalised economy and society – crucial to successful diplomacy, peacekeeping, interactions, business growth and flourishing community relationships in diverse societies

Translation not just from one language to another, but from medium to another, e.g. from verbal to non-verbal art forms

Need for strategic approach to developing experts in specialist non-European languages and in language-based area studies.’

Translating Cultures

Builds upon:

Language Based Area Studies Centres (LBAS)

Diasporas, Migration & Identities Programme

Religion & Society Programme

Contributes to:

Global Uncertainties

Connected Communities


European ERANET plus ‘Cultural Encounters’

Follow-up to LBAS Centres

Recent CRT call on languages

Science in Culture

Understanding the interactions between science and arts humanities

Historical evolution of science; creativity, discovery & argumentation in science; science as a system of knowledge

Impact on values, beliefs & ‘world views’; cultural, religious, ethical and legal dimensions; representation of science in language, literature, art, imagery, museums etc;

Anticipating & influencing future controversies and enhancing public debates & engagement

Emerging areas such as medical humanities

Science in Culture

Builds on:

Centres e.g. Evolution of cultural diversity

Current cross-Council Programmes

Contributes to:

All cross Council Programmes including LLHWB


Cross-Council sand-pits / retreats e.g. robotics

Royal Society Neuroscience workshop

Initial Steps

Highlight notices in research networking and Fellowships announced in August

Establish small working groups to advise on each theme

Possible workshops as a part of institutional visits

Take advantage of emerging opportunities e.g. for partnership funding, commissioned activities, as appropriate.

Looking at what comes through other schemes such as grants, new follow-on fund etc of relevance to themes

Initial Steps
Highlight Notice Networking Scheme

4 AHRC Themes plus Connected Communities

Based on current, broad, theme descriptions (on website)

Intended to be open and encourage bottom-up ideas from research community

Scheme remains fully open to applications outside themes

Applications addressing themes are not prioritised & considered in competition with other applications

Initial Steps
Highlight Notice Networking Scheme

However, if there is a strong response we may supplement networking budget from theme development budgets support additional highly ranked projects and / or reduce impact on applications outside themes.

We will monitor response relevant to themes and consider how to maximise value from them and if any changes to highlight are needed.

Initial Steps
Highlight Notice Fellowship Scheme

4 AHRC Emerging Themes plus Connected Communities

As with networking highlight aim to encourage ‘bottom-up’ scheme remains fully open to applications outside themes applications addressing themes are not prioritised & considered competition with other applications

Applies to both standard and early career routes

Initial Steps
Highlight Notice Fellowship Scheme

However, a particular focus in this highlight is on what the more flexible fellowship scheme can enable / bring to the themes, particularly in terms of giving people time to work collaboratively in different places / settings / contexts and/develop collaborative partnerships

Fellowships under highlight notice can be more ‘developmental’ in terms of exploring new research areas than normal

Guidance for peer reviewers & panels being developed

Initial Steps
Highlight Notice Fellowship Scheme

Connected Communities – e.g. Enabling researchers to time doing research embedded in communities and working in collaboration with community organisations, policy-and practitioners

Science in Culture – e.g. Enabling arts and humanities researchers time to work collaboratively with teams of scientists or as a part of cross-Council Programmes

Initial Steps
Highlight Notice Fellowship Scheme

Translating Cultures – e.g. Time spent working overseas overseas collaborators or institutions involved in promoting cultural interaction to conduct research developing understanding of different cultures

Care for the Future – e.g. Time spent working with an environmental organisation or on public engagement relating environmental issues or with a heritage organisation on custodianship or working with a partner organisation to more culturally informed ‘horizon scanning’

Initial Steps
Highlight Notice Fellowship Scheme

Digital Transformations: e.g. Time for A&H researchers spend embedded in a Hub, Doctoral Training Centre or team funded under the Digital Economy Programme, or partnership with creative industries or for a digital expert spend embedded with an arts and humanities team to explore the transformative research potential of digital technologies.

And finally one other recent development and new funding opportunity
AHRC’s new Follow-on Fund

AHRC new follow-on fund

Supplementary funding for innovative activities in support knowledge exchange, public engagement, active dissemination or commercialisation activities that arise unforeseeably during the lifespan of, or following, an AHRC-funded project

Up to £120k (fec), open deadline, any topic (not restricted themes)