Research foundations in a global challenge initiative

AchieveMore-109

Achieve More:10bn is an optional interdisciplinary programme open to all second-year undergraduate students at the University of Sheffield. Launched in 2015 and bringing together students from all disciplines, it comprises a 3-week online course and an accompanying series of face-to-face talks, workshops and other events. Importantly, students get to meet each other and discuss an issue which impacts on everyone, whether from a background in science, engineering, social sciences, medicine or arts and humanities.

10bn showcases examples of interdisciplinary research networks within the University of Sheffield, exposing students to 10bn-related research that is going on in their own institution, and demonstrating how different disciplines do and conceive of research differently. This encourages students to critically appraise their own disciplines – their methodologies, scope, priorities, concerns and assumptions.

What, we ask students, do their subjects bring to our understanding of this research question and the world? And how might their discipline work usefully with others?

Equally, 10bn promotes openness to the approaches, views and priorities of others. This heterogeneity, we argue, can function as a driver of creative and non-normative thinking. In the ‘safe’ context of AML2, a non-credit bearing programme, we aim to inspire students to take creative research risks which they might otherwise avoid in credit-bearing modules.

In order to complete the 10bn programme, students submit a piece of reflective writing that is peer-reviewed online. In this, students reflect together on the ways in which knowledge is constructed, contested, shared and disseminated in the research cycle. 10bn exposes students to a diversity of research practices and experiences, thereby encouraging them to reflect on and develop their own.

A key aspect of 10bn is to highlight ‘exit points’ and promote further development and reflection, whether this is through existing opportunities, or by creating new ones.

10bn seeks to enhance understanding of different epistemologies and interrogate the permeability of borders between subjects. It is attentive to the wider priorities for the future of higher education, namely developing better relationships and networks, developing impactful and creative research, as well modernising pedagogy.

In a world where ‘all the information is already out there’ – it constructs more meaningful relations between teaching and research.
There are unanticipated benefits of the research focus that underpins 10bn. It has allowed the work of interdisciplinary research groups to have an impact on teaching and learning.

In many ways it addresses some of the realities of the HE environment, in that it gives researchers the opportunities to engage in co-production and dissemination; it is good for impact and co-informs research.

Furthermore, by bringing together academics from different disciplines, it enables the sharing of pedagogical good practice and promotes better teaching.

By Amanda Crawley Jackson

Amanda Crawley Jackson is one of the Academic Leads for 10bn

Find out more and register for 10bn here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/course/achieve-more/aml2

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