Posts Tagged 'community sector'

Co-creating impact: why universities and communities should work together

Kate Pahl and Keri Facer, authors of Valuing interdisciplinary collaborative research, discuss the value of co-production and collaboration between academic researchers and community projects. 

Valuing Interdisciplinary Collaborative Research will be launched at the Co-Creating Cities & Communities Summer Event today in Bristol #ahrcconnect #citiesandcoms2017 @ahrcconnect

Kate Pahl

Keri Facer

“Increasingly, universities are being asked to work with communities in more inclusive, collaborative and ethical ways, but their processes and practices are often overlooked, particularly within the arts and humanities.

University ways of knowing and doing are only one part of research and new conceptual tools are needed to make sense of this. This makes for a new and exciting research landscape.

“Impact isn’t just about academics doing brilliant, original research… impact is co-created.”

The ‘impact’ agenda needs to shift to recognise the nature of ‘co-produced impact’. That is, impact isn’t just about academics doing brilliant, original research which is written up in articles and then re-produced in different forms to a grateful community which draws on this research.

Instead, impact is co-created. People have ideas, in communities and in universities and they work on these together, bringing different knowledges and practices to those questions and ideas. This then produces a different kind of knowledge – richer, more diverse, more carefully located in real and everyday contexts and more relevant.

Connected Communities

The Connected Communities (CC) programme, headed by the AHRC cross-research council, has funded over 300 projects, worked with over 500 collaborating organisations and over 700 academics from universities across the UK, on topics ranging from festivals to community food, from everyday creativity to care homes, from hyper-local journalism to community energy.

‘Valuing Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research’ (Policy Press 2017), the latest volume in the Connected Communities book series, brings together a number of diverse and rich research projects that range from community evaluation, to how community values play out in collaborative research, how decisions on heritage should be made, and on what artists do when they work with academics and communities together with the role of performance in highlighting community concerns.

Many different people contributed to the projects ranging from people from the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Science Museum, to people working within communities as well as within universities.

facer-blog-pic

Some themes which emerge in the book include translation, co-production, dialogic modes of research and tacit and embodied knowledge. A key theme is the nature of knowledge and its production practices . Ways of capturing everyday knowledge, through stories, maps, material objects, conversations and performances, are discussed and considered.

In the book we attempt to map this new world out. We offer a set of helpful ideas and ways forward to articulate what is needed to do this sort of work. We argue that projects like this need to include an element of productive divergence.

“Perhaps if this kind of research was funded more often, surprises like the recent election result wouldn’t have come as so much of a shock.”

The projects are often grounded in the world materially and objects play a strong part. They often involve mess, uncertainty, complexity and a focus on practice and involve translating across different fields, as well as stories as a mode of exchange. Many of the projects draw on tacit and embodied learning that were informed by arts methodologies as well as ideas from sensory and phenomenological perspectives.

Perhaps if this kind of research was funded more often, surprises like the recent election result wouldn’t have come as so much of a shock. Universities need to become more attuned to the voices of communities, to their accounts of what is important and necessary to research. The Connected Communities programme and this book make a start in redressing the balance.

 

Valuing interdisciplinary collaborative research edited by Keri Facer and Kate Pahl is available with 20% discount on the Policy Press website. Order here for £19.99.

Find out more about impact, influence and engagement at Policy Press here.

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blog post authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Voluntary Sector Review: A new journal

Voluntary Sector Review is a new journal published by The Policy Press in collaboration with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN). The journal publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. Below you will find an extract from Pete Alcock’s article ‘A strategic unity: defining the third sector in the UK’. To continue reading the rest of this article and all the others featured in the first issue of Voluntary Sector Review please encourage your institution to sign up for a free trial or subscribe.

Extract from A strategic unity: defining the third sector in the UK by Pete Alcock

The need for definition

Academics, policy makers and practitioners all need to be able to define the terms they use in discussion, and in particular to be able to delineate the key concepts that they rely on. Academic debate is often focused on disagreement over definition of core terms, and differences found in academic research are often the product of different definitions and approaches underpinning research questions. Too often perhaps academics end up talking at ‘cross purposes’, using the same terms to mean different things, and this is true for practitioners and policy makers too. It seems sensible therefore to begin by trying to define key terms, and this may be particularly important for a relatively new field of academic research such as third sector studies.

The focus of this paper is on the use of the term ‘third sector’ in the UK. It seeks to explain why this concept has arisen in recent academic debate and to explore how we might understand and even define it, differentiating this from other key terms such as the ‘voluntary sector’ and the ‘community sector’. This is a contested field, however, and both the definition and the existence of a third sector have been subject to debate and disagreement. There is debate and disagreement because there are different perspectives being brought to bear, including the perspectives of policy makers, practitioners and academics; and more broadly in international debate there are distinct cultural and political legacies arising in different national settings. Differing perspectives are based to a large extent on the beliefs, agendas and constraints that drive protagonists. For instance, the aims of policy makers (and more especially politicians) may be to introduce wide-ranging policy instruments that can bring about major change in social and economic activity; whereas practitioners in particular settings may be seeking to defend the mission and structure of their organisation against pressures to change or disrupt it. By contrast, for academics the pressure is to establish a reputation for developing new, and perhaps controversial, approaches to research.

These different agendas mean that the notion of a third sector is inevitably a contested one, and may lead some to challenge the relevance of the concept itself. These challenges are expressed in discourses – the language and the messages that we use to communicate when we write or talk about our concerns. It is through discourses that concepts are created and exchanged, and within discourse we can identify the different definitions that protagonists produce from within the agendas and constraints that they are operating. (For a general discussion of critical discourse analysis, see Fairclough, 1995; Finlayson, 2007.) As we might expect, within these various discourses the notion of a third sector has been differentially defined – it means different things to different people. However, not all discourses are of equal importance or impact. Those of powerful interests speak more loudly, and perhaps more articulately, than others. We will return later to examine the ways in which more powerful discourses in the UK have been shaping our understanding of a third sector in recent years, in particular through the policy actions that have flowed from these interests; and we will explore, to some extent at least, why this has been happening.

However, this is an academic paper and it is informed by the legacy of academic debate about the notion of a third sector and the key differences and core themes that have emerged within this. There has been quite extensive academic debate about the ways in which a distinctive sector might be identified and defined, and about the relationships between definition and measurement, and definition and policy, which flow from this. Understanding this legacy can help us to understand how current debates can be identified and explained.

To read the rest of this article and all the others featured in the first issue of Voluntary Sector Review please encourage your institution to sign up for a free trial or subscribe.


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