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

Lead Research Organisation: Bournemouth University
Department Name: Faculty of Science and Technology


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.


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