Into the key of law: transposing musical improvisation. The case of child protection in Northern Ireland

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch of Law

Abstract

This interdisciplinary collaboration, the first of its kind, is made possible through a shared conception of improvisation between lawyer and law lecturer, Dr Sara Ramshaw, and sound artist, improviser and lecturer, Dr Paul Stapleton. Many myths currently exist in society regarding the nature of improvisation. This project seeks to debunk its conceptualisation as purely spontaneous and unplanned, or simply about individual self-expression. Improvisation is not, in other words, unfettered freedom, but is instead made up of several structural elements, such as harmony, melody, rhythm and time. Moreover, accounts regarding the individualistic nature of improvisation fail to account for the ways in which improvisation is about 'community building'. In the words of Fischlin and Heble, improvisation is 'about fostering new ways of thinking about, and participating in, human relationships' (Fischlin and Heble 2005: 23).

Although improvisation is most often associated with the musical realm - for example, jazz music - critical improvisational research is currently being pursued across a range of arts and humanities disciplines, such as anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies and law, demonstrating the need to consider improvisation not simply as a musical form, but as a complex 'social practice', one that mediates transcultural exchanges and produces new conceptions of identity, community and justice.

The global significance of critical improvisational research is evidenced by the Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (ICASP) project, of which the PI is a former Postdoctoral Fellow and current Research Associate. ICASP is a seven-year, $4-million international community/university research scheme, funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada's (SSHRC) Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) programme. Bringing together an international research team from eighteen universities, including McGill University, University of Cambridge, Columbia University and Harvard University, amongst others, ICASP explores musical improvisation as a model for social change and plays a leading role in defining a new field of interdisciplinary research to shape political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action. This project will build on these insights, along with the established links the PI has with ICASP, while also developing further international associations and collaborations.

One of the key tenets of critical improvisational studies is the emancipatory potential of improvisation. Self-consciously engaging with tradition and precedent, improvisation enables resistance to past oppression and injustice and opens up possibilities for new ways of being together in society, both locally and at the global level.

This project begins with the premise that it is possible to transpose improvisational 'language', that is, its discourses, techniques and pedagogies, from the musical to the legal realm. However, what remains unclear is where this language may be welcomed or resisted by legal actors and institutions. Focusing on child protection law, as an area that has recently been criticised for being too formalised and overly-bureaucratic (see, for example, the Munro Review), the investigators seek to determine whether, by educating legal decision-makers about the structures of improvisation, they might themselves become better improvisers (through their participation in improvisation workshops and cross-disciplinary conversations with improvising musicians), thereby leading to more creative and courageous legal decision-making in child protection cases.

The impact of honing the improvisational skills of legal professionals is potentially groundbreaking, influencing not only how decisions are made in child protection cases, but also the content of judicial training and legal education, thereby ultimately impacting all areas of legal decision-making.

Planned Impact

One of the key aims of this project is to make more understandable the 'language', that is, the discourses, techniques and pedagogies, of improvisational practices to those working in the area of child protection. Read together, recent reports on the child protection system in England and Wales, such as the Family Justice Review (2011) and the Munro Review of Child Protection (2011), call for a child protection system that listens deeply to the voices of abused children and their families, responds quickly and decisively to important issues, and adapts when necessary to problems that arise. This project aims to demonstrate the importance of improvisational principles in this regard and thus to impact the very process by which child protection decisions are made in Northern IreIand (NI) and beyond.

Through interviews and focus groups with local musicians and professionals working in the area of child protection law in NI, such as social workers, lawyers, judges, government policy makers and community activists, we hope to identify the scope for improvisation in child protection law in this jurisdiction, where it might be welcomed or resisted, and to encourage transparency in legal decision-making. The improvisation workshops with local improvising musicians furthermore aim to educate child protection professionals about the complex structures of improvisation and help them to understand the benefits of improvisational practices in legal decision-making. The impact of this project is, at least initially, primarily educational in nature. However, it is hoped that, from this empirical research and the improvisation workshops, the very process by which decisions are made in NI child protection cases will be impacted. Moreover, the techniques taught in the improvisation workshops, as a practical means of introducing and experiencing improvisation, can then be integrated into local law school and legal practice curriculum, as well as judicial training and education. Thus, while focused on local child protection law, the project has the potential to impact legal decision-making and education more generally and at the global level.

One example of how this project may impact legal decision-making more broadly is the skill it teaches of 'deep listening' - to persons, the environment and the sounds of daily life, both inside and outside the courtroom. 'Deep listening' is an improvisatory practice developed by Pauline Oliveros, which involves an ethical commitment and responsibility to, and interaction with, all that surrounds us. Deep listening in the arena of child protection will significantly impact legal decision-making and thus all those involved, from the abused child him or herself to those tasked with making law and policy in this area, such as judges and government officials. A knowledge of such improvisational techniques forces professionals to 'stay present', that is, remain in the moment and focus on the decisions at hand. It also teaches them to be aware of others and their surroundings and to take risks, trusting themselves that they know the right answers, but also understanding that such decision-making requires extensive knowledge and skill, and much practice to get it right.

The impact of critical improvisational research more generally beyond the academic community is far reaching, especially in relation to equality and diversity issues. According to Fischlin and Heble, improvisation, as a form of creative decision-making, risk-taking, and collaboration, emerged out of marginalised cultures, particularly indigenous and African slave populations, helping aggrieved peoples adapt and respond to instances of discrimination and oppressive social contexts. Improvisation, in other words, utilises 'the materials at hand to create powerful and enduring resources for hope', often out of seemingly hopeless situations .... ... find[ing] "a way out of no way"' (Fischlin and Heble 2005: 12).

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/L008017/1 01/06/2014 09/09/2014 £189,729
AH/L008017/2 Transfer AH/L008017/1 10/09/2014 09/12/2015 £164,536
 
Description The key findings from this research are:

(1) Significant new knowledge generated in the discipline of Northern Irish child protection law: Our research documents interviews, focus groups and improvisation workshops with Northern Irish family law judges, barristers, solicitors, social workers and community workers about the role that improvisation plays in their working practices. These discussions provide clear evidence that improvisation is much more than 'making it up as you go along.' Rather, effective improvisation is shown to be a highly skilled social practice that is learned through shared experience and refined through open and attentive listening to the uniqueness of each new case or performance. Our research generated significant new knowledge in this field through a detailed analysis of the following: (a) existing challenges and opportunities in relation to child protection in NI, including issues of resources, delay, risk, and power dynamics; (b) improvisation in practice, including the topics of judicial and legal decision-making, discretion, intuition, anticipation, listening, empathy, adaptability and responsibility; and (c) possible ways forward, including prioritising experiential over textbook learning, recognising expertise as skilful adaptability, adopting constraints that are case-sensitive rather than bureaucratically imposed, and the potential of collaborative opportunities.

(2) Significant new knowledge generated in discipline of music: Our research documents interviews, focus groups and improvisation workshops with professional improvising musicians, both local, national and international. This research generates significant new knowledge in this field, both as outlined above in (a) - (c) and also as a way of challenging the current widespread adoption of risk-adverse bureaucracy which has largely failed to deal with the complexities of modern society. In many areas, this is resulting in the de-professionalisation of skilled workers through an over-reliance on generic targets and procedures. Therefore, one of our objectives, which we believe was met, was to champion the ability of experienced practitioners, both in the legal and musical fields, to skillfully adapt to future events that cannot always be predicted with a sufficient level of certainty, or for which a single correct response does not exist. These findings are documented in the forthcoming Special Issue (guest edited by Ramshaw and Stapleton) of the Critical Studies in Improvisation journal (see publications section).

(3) Hydra: A creative training tool for legal advocacy and ethics: Hydra is a moot court-style improvisational training tool developed by our research team for instructing legal advocates on how to be nimble-footed and better able to respond quickly and responsively to unexpected situations in the courtroom. We are in the process of piloting this training tool in law schools and bar associations across the UK, and eventually in other jurisdictions, such as the USA, Canada and Australia

(4) Noteworthy new networks created through engagement activities: Our research both strengthened and created new networks for research dissemination, including: the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, the Social Research Association, as well as local research networks, such as the Irish Feminist Judgments Project and the Translating Improvisation Research Group.
Exploitation Route We envisage our research findings being taken forward as follows:

(1) Dissemination of both academic and non-academic publications: As noted above and in the publication section, this research project has generated several academic and non-academic publications, all of which can be openly accessed by academics, professional practitioners (legal, musical or otherwise), and the general public. It is envisioned that this research will be taken forward by these stakeholders in their development of improvisation as social practice in a variety of fields.

(2) Further piloting of Hydra: plans are in place to pilot Hydra at Exeter Law School and members of the research team have presented this training tool at a variety of institutions including: the Northern Irish Bar Association, Kent Law School, Keele Law School, Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto, Canada), University of Victoria Law School (BC, Canada), Guelph University (Canada), and Georgetown University Law Centre (Washington, DC). Future presentations include: McGill Law School (Montreal, Canada) and, potentially, Melbourne Law School (Australia). It is hoped that key educational stakeholders will either participate in or set up their own pilots in the future.

(3) Continued dissemination through conference papers and invited talks: the research will continue to be disseminated through academic conference papers and invited talks, which, depending on the composition of the audience, may reach members of education, community and creative economy who will take forward the research in a variety of creative and educational manners.

(4) Development of judicial listening workshops: in our submission to the Northern Irish Civil and Family Justice Review, we proposed the need for further judicial training on attentive and empathetic listening skills and offered our expertise to devise a judicial training workshop that does the following: (a) encourages individual reflection on current practices of listening; and (b) highlights key skills that judges may actively seek to develop and employ to listen more effectively in both family and civil law cases. From these workshops, a training resource will be designed, which can be utilised afterwards with other judges and legal professionals, both within and outside Northern Ireland, on a national and perhaps even an international level. These training workshops on improving judicial listening skills align with the Review's goal of creating a more responsive civil and family justice system and its recommendation for further mandatory judicial training. We hope the Review Group takes us up on our offer and goes forward to implement these workshops and training resource.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description Our findings have been used to facilitate reflection in several members of the Northern Irish judiciary, legal and social work professions, third sector workers, as well as local and international musicians, as to the role of improvisation in their professional working practices. This is evidenced in the testimonials from the likes of Professor Ellen Waterman and Her Honour Judge Patricia Smyth (see also forthcoming interview in the journal of Critical Studies in Improvisation) on how they now think about their practices differently as a result of participating in our research.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

 
Title Hydra: A Creative Tool for Critical Legal Advocacy and Ethics 
Description Traditional moot court training in law schools around the world is often criticised for failing to adequately prepare legal advocates (lawyers, barristers) to be nimble-footed in the courtroom and able to respond quickly and responsively to unexpected situations. In contrast, Hydra, named after the serpent-like water monster with numerous heads in Greek mythology, hones legal argumentation skills, requiring participants to be Hydra-headed and skilled at rapidly analysing a legal issue from a variety of angles and perspectives, teaching advocates to be prepared for the unexpected. It is through our creation of Hydra that we hope to directly impact the manner in which law students, members of the legal profession, and the general public, view improvisational practices, combatting the common myth that improvisation is simply "making it up as you go along", an entirely spontaneous activity that is not constrained by trained expertise, cultural history or social norms. Rather improvisation is better understood as the ability to draw on prior knowledge and expertise in response to dynamically unfolding situations, which frequently require deviations from normative behaviours. Improvisation conceived as such is not simply an intuitive art form, but a socially engaged ethical practice that directly impacts on our ability to make creative decisions, engage in critical dialogue, take risks that allow for the discovery of new knowledge and new social relationships, and engage in collaborations across diverse domains and levels of expertise. Applied to legal advocacy, the improvisational practices taught and honed through Hydra assist law students (as future barristers and solicitors) in identifying the most fundamental tools required for skilled advocacy and learning them so exquisitely well that it is possible to pull together excellent argumentation and reasoning extemporarily. In essence, it is about a process through which students can safely hone their adversarial agility and attentive listening skills, the latter being especially necessary for professional responsibility and ethics. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Requests for further information and participation in Hydra. 
 
Description 18th Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities (Washington, DC, USA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Panel discussion organised by the Into the Key of Law research team for a conference in Washington, DC, USA. Audience of about 40 were provided information about the AHRC-funded project, which sparked questions, discussion and further visits to the project website. Also, sparked invitation for Dr Ramshaw to speak about her work at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in May 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description 2014 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium (Guelph, Canada) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Audience of about 35 (musicians, academics, general public) listened to presentation by Drs Ramshaw and Stapleton, which introduced the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and interest in the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 2014 Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference (Aberdeen, Scotland) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Ramshaw introduced the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, to an audience of approximately 30 legal academics, practitioners and UG and PGR students, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards and requests for further information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 2015 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium (Guelph, Canada) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Audience of about 40 (musicians, academics, general public) listened to presentation by Dr Ramshaw on the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and interest in/further visits to the project website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description 2016 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium (Guelph, Canada) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper entitled 'Practice as Process: Social Justice and Improvisation', given at the 2016 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 14-18 September 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Acoustic Justice 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk/performance at the Acoustic Justice event, Federal Court Building, Melbourne, Australia, 15 July 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Berlin Improvisation Research Group Invited Talk (Berlin, Germany) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Stapleton introduced the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, to an audience of approximately 10 professional practitioners and specialist independent researchers, followed by an extended discussion on the theme of Translating Improvisation and how this might be applied to other research projects and individual creative practices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences Conference (British Library, London, UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Drs Ramshaw and Stapleton gave a talk entitled 'The Transformative Potential of Critical Improvisational Research Methods' to an audience of approximately 80-90 people from a variety of backgrounds and interests on the AHRC-funding project, Into the Key of Law. This resulted in many questions and discussion afterwards and requests for further information and possible engagement in the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Cultures of Listening Workshop (The Open University) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presented by Dr Sara Ramshaw, entitled "Attentive listening in improvisation practices and family law proceedings", at The Open University, 7 March 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Cultures of Urban Space conference (Copenhagen) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper given by Paul Stapleton entitled "The Changing Same: Improvised Actions as a Space of Urban Rehearsal" at the Cultures of Urban Space conference in Copenhagen on 26 August 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Durham University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited talk by Dr Paul Stapleton entitled "Translating Improvisation: Human Adaptability and Cultural Creativity in Music and Urban Design" on 2 June 2016 as part of a panel on interdisciplinary research for AHRC Northern Bridge students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hope, Refuge, Justice: The Ethics and Trauma of Improvisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote address for the Lines of Flight: Improvisation, Hope and Refuge Symposium, International Institute of Critical Studies in Improvisation and Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Vancouver, BC, 24 June 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Hydra: A Creative Tool for Critical Legal Advocacy and Ethics Workshop 1 (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This workshop involved 12 academics and postgraduate students and related to the development of a creative research tool that uses improvisational practices to make for better legal advocates. From this workshop further changes were made to Hydra and plans to develop the research tool were made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Hydra: A Creative Tool for Critical Legal Advocacy and Ethics Workshop 2 and Focus Group (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This workshop/focus group involved 12 academics and postgraduate students and related to the development of a creative research tool that uses improvisational practices to make for better legal advocates. From this focus group further changes were made to Hydra.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Improv Notes Features (Canada) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The AHRC-funded research project, Into the Key of Law, the Just Improvisation Symposium, and the Special Issue of Critical Studies in Improvisation were featured in the May and August 2015 editions of the online magazine, Improv Notes, produced in Canada.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Improvisation Symposium Invited Talk (Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Ramshaw was invited to participate in a symposium on improvisation at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA, which also included renowned musician/composer/academic, George Lewis, as a participant. The audience of approximately 80 people included academics, students and the general public and the talks sparked questions, discussion and further interest in the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, and visits to project website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Drs Ramshaw and Stapleton were invited to give a talk on their research to an audience of approximately 15-20 postgraduate students, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and requests for further information on the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Institute of Irish Studies International Summer School Talk (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Drs Ramshaw and Stapleton were invited to give a talk on their research to an audience of approximately 40 International students participating in QUB's Institute for Irish Studies International Summer School, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and requests for further information on the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, and visits to project website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Into the Key of Law Information Dissemination Session (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact This event shared the preliminary findings of the AHRC-funded research project, Into the Key of Law, with an audience of approximately 50 people from a variety of backgrounds, including academics, musicians, judges, social workers, lawyers, third sector organisations. It sparked further requests for information and visits to the project website. A brochure, outlining the preliminary findings, was distributed to the audience members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Into the Key of Law: Transposing Musical Improvisation Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop brought together approximately 15 academics, musicians and postgraduate students to discuss the possibility of translating improvisational practices into the discipline of law. The discussion led to plans for future activities and a refinement of the research questions/focus of the Into the Key of Law research team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited Integrative Studies Graduate Seminar (University of California, San Diego, USA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Dr Stapleton introduced the AHRC-funded research project, Into the Key of Law, to an audience of approximately 25 PhD and MA students, followed by an extended discussion on the theme of Translating Improvisation and how this might be applied to other areas of research and professional practice. It sparked many questions and requests for further information afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Judicial Listening in the Family Law Setting: Practice as Process 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presented at the "Cultures of Listening: Exploring the emancipatory potential of listening in law, child protection, remembrance and excolonial politics" symposium, International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP), Tokyo, Japan in August 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Just Improvisation Symposium, Legal Improvisation Workshop and Focus Group (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop/focus group introduced to an audience of about 30 people from a range of backgrounds, including local barristers and solicitors, social workers, academics (both local and international), to discuss a research tool that the Into the Key of Law research team had developed to improve legal advocacy skills. It sparked many questions and further discussion and the feedback collected was used to hone and better improve the research tool.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Just Improvisation Symposium, Musical Improvisation Workshop and Focus Group (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop/focus group brought together approximately 20 improvising musicians, both local and international, to discuss the structures and process of improvisation (which could then be translated into other fields). It sparked many questions and much discussion and many reported increased interest in the topic of translating improvisation into other disciplines, such as law, and in the AHRC-funded research project, Into the Key of Law, more specifically. Several of the participants will participate in a Special Issue emerging from the symposium, to be published in the Critical Studies in Improvisation journal in early-2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Just Improvisation: Enriching Child Protection Law Through Musical Techniques, Discourses and Pedagogies, International Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This symposium brought together local barristers, solicitors, judges, social workers, third sector organisations, along with local and international musicians and academics, to discuss current issues in Northern Irish child protection law and how improvisational practices may assist. Throughout the 2 days of the symposium, approximately 250 people were reached and the panels, keynote addresses and performances generated many questions and discussion. Many people noted a change in their views on both improvisation and law and the event generated future events and focus groups and a special issue of Critical Studies in Improvisation journal, dedicated to further discussion and documentation of the issues arising from the symposium.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Keele University School of Law Invited Talk (Keele, UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Ramshaw was invited to give a talk on her research at Keele University School of Law to an audience of approximately 25 legal academics and students (both UG and PGR), which sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and requests for further information on the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, and visits to project website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description LawArtCulture Lecture Series Invited Talk (Toronto, Canada) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Dr Ramshaw was invited to give a talk on her research at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada to an audience of approximately 80 academics, students (both UG and PGR), and the general public, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and requests for further information on the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, and visits to project website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Northern Ireland Child Protection Law Focus Group (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This focus group involved discussions with local family law judges, barristers, solicitors, social workers, and third sector organisations with a view to presenting to the Northern Ireland Executive's Minister of Justice, David Ford MLA, and Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Policy, Simon Hamilton MLA, a series of recommended solutions to problems in the child protection system in Northern Ireland. 12 participants participated and the discussion sparked many questions and discussion and further discussions organised by one member of the focus group. A policy paper is pending.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project, Drafting Workshop (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Ramshaw and 2 other members of the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, gave a talk on their research to an audience of approximately 60 academics (from across a variety of disciplines), third sector organisations, lawyers and UG and PGR students, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards and requests for further information and visits to the project website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Radio Interview (Guelph, Canada) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Drs Ramshaw and Stapleton were interviewed in May 2015 by Sound It Out radio presenter, Rachel Elliot, based in Guelph, Canada. Rachel had read about the Just Improvisation symposium in Improv Notes, a monthly newsletter published by the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), and wanted to speak with us on the radio about the symposium, the AHRC project and our research in general. This programme aired on the community radio station CFRU 93.3 in Canada.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Roundtable discussion on Social Policy and Improvisation (IICSI and Musagetes, Canada) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited participant at a Roundtable discussion on 'Social Policy and Improvisation' at the International Institute of Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) in Guelph, Canada on 7 May 2016. The event was co-organised by Musagetes, an international organization that makes the arts more central and meaningful in people's lives, communities and societies. It was filmed and will be downloaded to the Musagetes and IICSI websites in the near future, thereby having the potential to reach thousands of people from a variety of backgrounds.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Sursock Museum (Beirut, Lebanon) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Gave an invited talk on 'The Ethics and Trauma of Action: Art, Improvisation, Justice' at the L'action d'art Symposium, organised by the Artistic Research Practices, Lebanese Academy of Fine Art, University of Balamand (ARP-ALBA) in partnership with the Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon on 15-17 April 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description TEDx Belfast Invited Talk (Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Stapleton introduced the concepts behind the AHRC-funded research project, Into the Key of Law, and the Translating Improvisation Research Group, while also improvising on one of his custom made musical instruments. The local audience consisted of approximately 100+ general public and invited policy makers, professional practitioners, third sector workers, and industry/business professionals. The event was also streamed live across the world (estimated remote audience numbers unknown), and was video recorded to be replayed online through the TED site.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.ted.com/tedx/events/17610
 
Description Translating Improvisation Research Group Seminar Series - Ethics of Listening in Law and Music (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Dr Ramshaw gave a talk on her research to an audience of approximately 20-25 academics (from across a variety of disciplines), musicians, and UG and PGR students, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards and requests for further information and visits to the AHRC-funded research project, Into the Key of Law, website. This also prompted an academic from another institution and discipline (Psychology, The Open University), who saw the talk on the project website, to contact Dr Ramshaw about possible future collaborations/funding applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Translating Improvisation Research Group Seminar Series - The Improvising Lawyer (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Dr Ramshaw and 3 other members of the AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law, gave a talk on their research to an audience of approximately 20-25 academics (from across a variety of disciplines), musicians, and UG and PGR students, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards and requests for further information and visits to the project website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Translating Improvisation Research Group Seminar Series - Translating Improvisation (Queen's University Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Drs Ramshaw and Stapleton gave a talk on their research to an audience of approximately 20-25 academics (from across a variety of disciplines), musicians, and UG and PGR students, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards and requests for further information about the AHRC-funded research project, Into the Key of Law.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description What the participants are saying 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This booklet outlined the preliminary findings of the project and was launched at the December 2015 Information Session and continues to be distributed at other outreach events that have followed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015