Causing a Flap: using chicken-based research to transform education, poultry production and human well-being

Lead Research Organisation: Bournemouth University


The initial media reaction to our project was scathing: we "caused a flap"[1,2]. Yet our work on the AHRC 'Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions' and AHRC-GCRF 'Going Places' projects has demonstrated that chickens are meaningful and inspirational for diverse segments of society. By integrating the results of this research our project will reveal the hidden social and cultural impact of chickens through time and space, highlighting this message for a range of audiences.

This new project "Causing a Flap: using chicken-based research to transform education, inform the poultry industry and enhance human well-being" will maximise the legacy and impact of the results of our research: academic research produces results that are frequently of value to large proportions of society, but they are not always accessible. We will translate our findings in ways that will reflect the breadth of their significance and reveal the surprisingly diverse role of the chicken in humanity's past, present and future.

To realise the full potential of the results of our previous study, this will:

1. Increase understanding of the link between human and chicken diet, health and environmental sustainability.
2. Enhance cross-curriculum educational practice through a common medium, the chicken, in the UK and Africa.
3. Highlight the role of human-chicken interactions in transforming the lives of vulnerable people.

Our projects have demonstrated that human and chicken health and well-being are inextricably linked in areas such as diet, zoonotic disease and environmental sustainability. These results have implications for industry and consumers and we will bring our findings to an industry workshop (British Poultry Council, Moy Park), working with them to develop arts and humanities research-informed policy on chicken sustainability.

We have also shown how our interdisciplinary chicken-based research can be translated to teach across the curriculum and enhance learning experience for school-aged children. At present this has only been applied in one Key Stage 3 pilot. Through collaboration with educators in schools, academies, home-educating and international learning environments we have established there is a desire for a scheme like this (See Context 2)[3,4,5,6]. We will work with educators to co-create freely accessible resources targeted to suit different learning styles, abilities and ages.

Unexpectedly, our research identified circumstances in which chickens have transformed the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of society, including dementia patients and isolated elderly individuals, underprivileged and additional-needs schoolchildren and groups in Ethiopia, one of the least developed countries, for whom the chicken is unrecognised for its cultural and social significance. Out partners Equal Arts, HenPower and groups working in education and museums in Ethiopia will be brought together by our project to enhance these unexpected benefits through educational and exhibition resources, and showcase them in a documentary film.

Chickens are valuable to so many people around the world, and through our research this is becoming increasingly apparent. This new project will demonstrate the value of our research and ensure its impact continues to bring benefits for the widest possible groups of people.


Planned Impact

This project will maximise the impact of the results of the 'Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions' and 'Going Places' projects. These will be drawn together to make the findings accessible to a wide range of audiences. Our work will rarely engage directly with the general public, but many of our resources will ultimately become available via HenPower roadshows, educators and work with industry. We will enable these other groups to translate our research for the general public. All activities will be geared towards ensuring impact, and we have identified 5 groups who will benefit from, and be actively involved in, the creation of our 7 key outcomes (G1-5). These are:

G1: Industry
We are collaborating with our new project partner, the British Poultry Council, and with industry leader Moy Park. The results of our research, particularly related to interlinked human and chicken health, wellbeing and sustainability, have crucial implications for the poultry industry. To communicate these important findings we will hold a "Stakeholder-Summit" (Jan 2018) and produce a White Paper of research findings to inform the poultry industry and discuss their implications. We will work with the organisations represented by the British Poultry Council, and their customer-facing teams, to measure how our message spreads beyond that event, as well as measuring responses on the day via social media.

G2: Vulnerable groups
Through our new collaboration with Equal Arts and their HenPower project, we will connect with vulnerable groups, such as isolated elderly people, dementia sufferers and children with learning difficulties, all of whom use chickens to aid their social enterprises. Equal Arts will aid us in transcribing our research so that it can be used to inform these different user groups in their interactions with chickens, and to inform the general public about our research to at their 'roadshows'. These groups will also feature in our documentary film, giving these charities increased visibility and publicity. We will record the audience figures for the film and the roadshows to see how many people have been reached by our research in this way. At the end of the project the key outcomes of the film and resources will continue to be used by Equal Arts.

G3: Schoolchildren: UK and Africa
We will engage with schoolchildren on a scale unprecedented by our previous research. While we previously engaged with one school, and children at public outreach events, this project will produce resources that can be used across the curriculum, for all age groups and education environments in the UK and Ethiopia. Tailored and accessible teaching resources will be informed by our partners and collaborators as well as our research. These will be used to create a stimulating programme of learning which can be easily available via a free and well-regarded teaching platform in the UK. Pre-printed packs will be available for Ethiopian teachers, with plans for the development of further legacy during the project.

G4: Teachers: UK and Africa
To engage schoolchildren, we will work closely with their teachers in our 'Cross-curricular Coop' team (21 educators from across the UK education spectrum, and a teacher and an Official from the Ministry of Education from Ethiopia, co-opted into our 'coop' for knowledge transfer). They will collaborate on teaching and learning resources and attend a 2-day teaching conference (Nottingham, Dec 2017) where a White Paper will be produced to inform educational practice. Through collaboration with the Ministry of Education, we can ensure the longevity of the project in Ethiopia.

G5: Early Career Researchers
This project will be led by two ECRs, (Drs Miller and Best) but will also engage the 5 other ECRs and 4 former PhDs from across both projects, giving them opportunities to increase their ability to inform, engage non-academic audiences and develop as ECRs.


10 25 50
Title Artwork of chickens in Ethiopian household, religion, and economy 
Description Series of painting in traditional ecclesiastical Ethiopian style depicting the role of chickens in household life, female work, religion and economy. These have been displayed in various locations in the UK (including special conference events) and now form part of the HenPower roadshow handling kits. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Changed general public understanding of the importance of chickens internationally and within the UK's own economy and history. 
Title Display cabinet of artefacts from Ethiopia 
Description Display cabinet of specially commissioned artefacts relating to chickens in Ethiopian religion, economy and household life. These included ceramics to cook and serve the national dish Doro Wat; figurines; artwork. This was hosted for 3 months in the University of Nottingham. The items then became part of the handling resource kit use by HenPower at their events. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Students and general public learned about our previous research, the importance of chickens in Ethiopia, and the outreach and engagement work of this project. The special commissions also supported female artisans in Ethiopia. 
Title Transforming Lives - documentary film 
Description Documentary film featuring international and UK participants reflecting on the positive role that chickens have had in their lives: emotionally, economically, religiously and socially. Builds on the unexpected consequences of human-chicken interactions revealed by our previous research. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Impact ongoing - public and media changed opinions on human-chicken interactions and their importance to life through in the past, present and future. 
Description The findings of the two underpinning projects have been used to develop an inter-related series of engagement in the UK and Ethiopia. This is focused upon producing a series of educational resources that enhance teaching and learning in both countries by disseminating some of the results of our research. Other outputs include a documentary film; public and industry-focused workshops.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Henpower 
Organisation Henpower
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Cultural and Sci Perceptions: Providing publicity for the work of Henpower via our collaboration at events such as Being Human Festival. Causing a Flap: Provided resources to take to Henpower events (e.g. Ethiopian cookware; artwork of chickens in different economic environments; chicken models to handle)
Collaborator Contribution Cultural and Sci Perceptions: Participation in the Bring Human Festival event Vindolanda November 2014. Causing a Flap: Provided access to Henpower members and meetings
Impact Handling resource kit
Start Year 2014
Description Conference event for public and industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact One day event entitled "Causing a Flap: Chickens in Industry, Education & Human Well-being" on 28th August 2018 at Senate House in University of London. Event drew together industry and educational practitioners to disseminate results of follow on project and create further opportunities for resource development. Private premiere of documentary film draft for discussion to enable final editing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Educational Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Three day residential event at Nottingham University, starting 30th May 2018. Workshop for UK and Ethiopian educators to develop educational resources and critique draft preparations. Comparison and collaboration between UK and Ethiopian teaching systems and resources discussed. Workshop involved educators in the resource development process to avoid the common pitfalls of educational resource development where the teachers' needs are not foremost. Resource development also included contributions from home educators.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Festival of Science and Curiosity event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk and activity delivered to school children at Wollaton Hall. Featured the Dinnersaurus-rex created as part of the Cultural and Scientific Perception of Human Chicken Interactions Project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Gastropod Podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Julia Best was interviewed for a podcast in October entitled "The Incredible edible egg", which debated the history of egg consumption and issues of food security and sustainability. The broadcast has been downloaded by over 80,000 people with a further 2,000 engaging with the pre-broadcast taster material.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Pilot delivery of educational resources in Ethiopia via special event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Week long series of events delivered in Ethiopia by Holly Miller (Exeter University) and Heidi Cutts (British Museum) focused around Addis Ababa. Educational resources trialed in classroom setting with primary-aged children and their educators. Filming for documentary also conducted.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018