Staying Agile: Preparing for the GCRF Collective Programme

As we kick off our town hall events, which aim to explain the new Network Plus Calls AHRC is managing under the GCRF Collective Programme, I can’t help but be reminded of the American gymnast Katelyn Ohashi. You may be thinking that there really isn’t much of a connection between the two and on the face of it, you’d be right. But perhaps they’re more closely related than they seem.

Both Oshashi’s recent 10 scoring floor routine and the Network Plus Call demand the same characteristics – namely, a high degree of flexibility and an inherently interconnected approach. Watching Ohashi lightly tumbling through the air, or touching her toe to her head, the agility and speed of movement she demonstrates both things we’d like to see reflected in Network Plus applications.

Professor Emma Crewe from the SOAS (University of London) Principal Investigator on the AHRC GCRF Network Plus Deepening Democracy in Extremely Politically Fragile Countries: Networking for Historical, Cultural and Arts Research on Parliaments and People,  has described the Network Plus model as ‘hugely transformative’ because of its flexibility. In her own words, the Network has ‘been able to create a competitive grant-making programme based on merit, inviting scholars and artists in the Global South to construct their own goals, research questions and methods of inquiry.’

Another image from Ohashi’s routine that strikes me is the way she weaves together moves from dance and gymnastics across multiple phases of the routine, splits segueing smoothly into dance moves– all accompanied by snippets of songs stitched together into a cohesive whole.

A similar cross-cutting and cross disciplinary approach is inherent within the Collective Programme. The UKRI GCRF Collective Programme is designed to encourage interdisciplinary research. The calls are intended to be fundamentally cross-disciplinary – and while calls are delivered by a particular council, projects can be from any subject area and will (hopefully) cut across council remits. AHRC is managing three calls on behalf of UKRI, in the following areas:

  • Preventing Conflict, Building Sustainable and Inclusive Pearce
  • Protection in Contexts of Conflict and Displacement
  • Education in Conflict and Crisis Research.

We’re managing these calls because we believe that in all three cultural, humanities-based approaches would be particularly fruitful and illuminating. Exploring arts practice and humanities methodology can produce amazing results in these field – helping to shape policy, persuade decision makers and empower beneficiaries.  

In particular, we hope to see proposals which work across disciplines, with a range of project partners and other Research Institutions. A Network Plus grant is, because of its scale and nature, something of a patchwork – crossing countries and continents – so applications which make a virtue of this, flexibly weaving together disparate elements – just as  Katelyn Ohashi does – are strongly encouraged.

In order to raise awareness of the three calls to researchers and applicants, and to explain the ambitions of them, we’re running a series of Town Hall meetings: 

  • 14 February 2019 – Birmingham
  • 25 February 2019 – London
  • 12 March 2019 – Edinburgh

A video of the Birmingham event will be available before the end of the month. Registration for the London event is now closed, but to apply for a place at the Edinburgh event please register your interest through our smart survey, accessible here.

By David Ward, AHRC Portfolio Manager

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