AHRC Commons Fellowship - R Clay

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: School of Arts and Cultures


The AHRC Commons will be aimed at gathering together arts and humanities researchers alongside cognate bodies and international peers to develop joint initiatives, connect dispersed undertakings, provide for a discussion and build a shared case for the importance of arts and humanities research to national and international life.' The remit of the AHRC Commons is broad and an overview is outlined in full in the Strategy.

The AHRC Commons Fellow will be able to demonstrate strategic leadership and have the ability to manage complex projects.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/M504221/1 01/09/2014 31/08/2015 £425,471
AH/M504221/2 Transfer AH/M504221/1 01/09/2015 31/08/2017 £283,871
Description The findings of our first year of consultation with the membership of the AHRC Commons (which is to say, anyone from any sector engaged in arts and humanities research projects) was reported to a session of the Museum Association conference in 2015 attended by c.200 museum professionals. The session was focused on the relationships between HEIs and the museum sector. That session was one of a series of consultative events that involved the Fellowship team engaging with more than 700 individuals drawn from across disciplines and sectors who self-identified as members of the AHRC Commons. The consultation, that ended in September 2015, led the team to organise (ably assisted by more than 70 of those individuals consulted) a national event where 220 individuals from diverse professional backgrounds were involved in running almost 100 activities across 9 zones for one another and more that 230 other event attendees at the University of York in June 2016. The Fellowship team conducted quantitative and qualitative research into the perceived benefits that those 450+ individuals accrued from engaging with the the AHRC Commons 'Common Ground' event. Given the diversity of the professional backgrounds of those involved, it is quite possible that societal, cultural, economic, and policy and public service impact resulted across a broad range of sectors as a result of the new collaborations that were brokered by the community at the event.

The AHRC Commons Fellowship team conducted quantitive and qualitative evaluation of the value that the event was felt to have had for people who were involved in it. This research informed a report submitted to the AHRC Council in December 2016. The report shows the event helped members of the AHRC Commons community to:
• Generate new knowledge and expertise
• Explore key issues and develop new projects
• Establish new teams to make more ambitious work possible
• Share good practice in research, collaboration, and public engagement
• Develop protocols and values that facilitate work across the diverse AHRC Commons community
• Continue to build a shared case for the importance of arts and humanities research in national and international life

The AHRC Commons Fellowship team's evaluation indicates a desire among the AHRC Commons community for further AHRC Commons activities. Specifically, the evaluation showed that there is an appetite among the community for: further national AHRC Commons events; smaller scale, themed, regional events; new online resources; a peer reviewed journal; and publications aimed at a broader audience. With the exception of the latter example, all the other future activities align broadly with those noted as potential outputs for the AHRC Commons in the AHRC 2013 - 18 Strategy. While there was no explicit demand for the kind of ECR-specific AHRC Commons activities mentioned in that document, there was a high level of ECR engagement with Common Ground and with the evaluation. The evaluation noted a commitment across the AHRC Commons community to ensuring that the initiative remains strongly engaged with issues facing ECRs. A member of the AHRC Commons Oversight Group has suggested that a PGR/ECR AHRC Commons working group could be established. Indeed, other working groups could also feed into any future developments of the AHRC Commons without incurring considerable expense.

An important theme that emerged strongly in the evaluation pertained to the development of AHRC Commons online 'brokerage'. As noted above, we take these to be tools that, like Common Ground, enable members of the AHRC Commons community to broker relationships with one another. Indeed, if adapted to work with smartphones, such tools could be used by attendees at future events and might go some way to addressing a 'stress' that one attendee noted when they asked 'Where is my tribe?' It is likely that other attendees had such a feeling amidst the diversity of activities at Common Ground. Digital tools would help members of the community find those with whom they share interests before, during, and after any future AHRC Commons events.

Finally, the evaluation noted additional areas where the event added considerable value. Notably, Common Ground succeeded in 'filling the gaps' between many of the major AHRC areas of investment, providing a national forum for cross-fertilisation between them and a wide range of other initiatives that are not AHRC funded. People engaged in the work of the AHRC Themes were active across the event's zones and the evaluation noted that there was considerable scope for the Themes to learn from, and feed into, any future developments of the AHRC Commons initiative.
Exploitation Route An article based on the evaluation research outlined above will be published in due course. The 'bottom up', cross-sector, and cross-disciplinary approach to collaboration that was enabled by the AHRC Commons consultation and national event might prove interesting to a wide range of sectors and could be taken forward and put to use by teams interested in seeking to encourage broad 'communities' to broker new and sometimes unexpected, yet mutually beneficial, collaborations.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Transport

Description Some of the findings of the team's research into the appetite for, and engagement with, the AHRC Commons initiative will be published later in 2017.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services