UNIC researchers tackle societal challenges by involving and engaging citizens, civil society and public/cities authorities in research and innovation activities. Engaged research offers an interdisciplinary approach and method for systematic knowledge production not only for society but also with and within society.
UNIC’s research programme
This is an umbrella term that describes research approaches that have a common interest in collaborative inquiry with society. It assumes knowledge, insight and expertise that comes from a variety of sources - researchers, citizens, policy makers, practitioners - and that research outputs are concerned with the process of co-production of knowledge through partnership for societal impact. It encompasses a range of participatory and community-based methodologies and ensures research rigour, the democratization of research and the increased impact of research activities. As such it offers unique opportunities for a European University seeking to develop a better understanding of today’s post-industrial challenges, including those related to inclusion and diversity as well as offering insights into the potential approaches to tacking respective challenges.
The Core Concept Of The UNIC4ER: ENGAGED RESEARCH
Linking up with the broader focus of UNIC on inclusion, impact and mobility, we will develop a research
and innovation structure around the core concept of engaged research. Engaged research oers an
interdisciplinary approach and method for systematic knowledge production not only for society but
also with and within society. It oers an approach for combining excellence with relevance and an
innovative way to understand today’s societal challenges by engaging with societal actors and
communities directly involved in such challenges. As such it oers unique opportunities for a European
University seeking to develop a better understanding of today’s post-industrial challenges, including
those related to inclusion and diversity. Its approaches, as exemplified in community-based research
and design methods, have been at the forefront in highlighting the existence of tensions and
disconnects between lay and expert knowledge systems. These approaches have enacted a cultural step
change in postmodern epistemology, where expertise is not a vertical top down process of knowledge
transfer, but a horizontal and collective process in which contrasting rationalities work together. They
require a process of boundary crossing where academia steps outside its customary domains to cocreate with citizens and community.
UNIC4ER in a nutsell
Through this programme, UNIC’s partners strive to mainstream engaged research to facilitate effective community-university partnerships by developing new infrastructure and processes within the university, including:
Shared understandings of what we mean by engaged research, agreed guidelines for good practice, and nationally agreed indicators to measure impact;
Resources/databases of engaged research so this work is visible and accessible;
Institutional infrastructures and resources to facilitate engaged research which are linked to all colleges and disciplines within the institution, rather than being siloed in one discipline, department or college;
Commitment to embed engaged research in undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral training as a means of building future research capacity.