Imagine a pile of chairs in a room. Draw what you see, but not the chairs.

Imagine a pile of chairs in a room. Draw what you see, but not the chairs.

Today I photographed an empty space, the venue for our experimental art workshop, for 2 Fine Art academics who will be leading this event for us on 17th Feb. I felt a pang of deja vu and a little apprehension, wondering; what are we hoping will happen here? Yes there will be charcoal, sponges and pencils, board and giant sheets of paper, new people to create with, but …we are not an art school.

What does this mean for 10bn, and what are we trying to do? It’s been 2 years since I started work on level 2 of Achieve More and here was a pop-up anniversary to redeliberate curricular space and purpose.

This particular event – the arty one – bookends our opening week, for those of you participating in 10bn to visually and kinaesthetically output your thoughts about the concept of ‘negative space’ (having had the theory intro on Mon 13th and the chance to apply this on our tour of the unseen campus Tues – Thurs).

Are we hoping you might co-create an artefact, for fun, in 2 hours? Yes.

Are we suggesting that you help design an alternative campus map, one that might represent the interdisciplinary research networks we are introducing you to? That would be amazing.

But it’s not just about producing an object, or solving something. There’s the philosophical side to chew on.

What’s the gain in identifying the architecturally defined ‘negative spaces’ that unite our campus; those places in which we interact, drink coffee, collaborate? What work is done by multidisciplinary teams? What makes encounters with people from different subjects so interesting?

Academically, I’d say, we detect how other subjects teach and how we learn, what we learn; a taste of new methods, aims, skills, findings and approaches… and insight into our differences! Arguably, we need these interactions – a mode of interdisciplinarity? – in order to tackle societal and global issues such as migration, energy, water management and inequality, as these can’t be addressed in a monologue. But a more straightforward answer might also be, this is an opportunity.

As extended by our strapline – an opportunity to develop deeper, broader understanding as well as building new networks of your own.

It’s a chance to appreciate the anatomy of the campus, the materiality of scholarship and its potential. But why charcoal? It’s messy! (Come in old clothes!)

Well, it’s smudgy. With charcoal you can illustrate the impermanence of boundaries and sliding change.

For instance, has the curriculum for your subject always been the same? Why do new buildings evolve? What effect do new technologies have on our cognition?

Why are we are doing 10bn..?

The beauty of all this is, it doesn’t matter. (Of course it matters, silly, we work really hard to make it fab!) But it doesn’t matter if you can’t draw, it doesn’t matter which course you are on, it doesn’t matter if you want to find out more about groundbreaking antibiotics but you’re a archaeology student.

It’s not about an outstanding artwork, but your interpretation. We’re valuing thought. A bit old school, maybe …

The upshot is, while I don’t know what exactly will happen in here, I don’t need to. Repko says that interdisciplinary research is ‘reflexive..process..a heuristic tool for finding out’ (2008). We’re providing the apparatus so you can explore, do more, think more.

So pick up your brushes – or sponges – and get to work. And that’s got everything to do with scholarship.

By Fran Sutherland.

Fran is the educational developer for Achieve More L2: 10bn.

The art workshop is 10-12 on Fri 17th Feb, Icoss conference room.

Find out what else is on

Sign up to 10bn here

Twitter @Sheffield10bn


Repko, A. (2008) Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory, Sage.

Behind the scenes of 10bn Online

This week we have been behind the scenes watching the filming of short videos for the 10bn online course.



We managed to get a glimpse of what the migration chapter of the online course might include.

We watched Amanda Crawley Jackson and Sophie Watt from the Department of French talking about their collaborative research on migration and the neocolonial world order.



The footage taken in this cold but striking venue will be made in to a short film.

Thanks to Amanda, Sophie, the wonderful Online Learning Team and all of their brilliant skills, this is sure to be an interesting and engaging part of the course!

Migration is just one aspect of thinking about what the world will be like with 10bn people.

If you are a level 2 student and want to get involved, you can apply now:

Watch the 10bn trailer here:

10/10 Showcase Event

Postcards photo

On 10.10.16, we held an event to celebrate and showcase the work of students who were involved in Achieve More Level 2: 10bn last year.

We also launched AML2:10bn 2016-17 – a 3 week programme for second year undergraduate students at the University of Sheffield, taking place online and across campus 13 Feb – 3 March 2017.

Here are just some of the evening’s highlights:

1. The Students

The event was an opportunity for the previous year’s AML2:10bn student groups to showcase the work they have been carrying out over the summer break. And they didn’t disappoint!

All five project groups exhibited and presented their research:

  • Aquaponics: The Future of Resilience Food
  • Exploring Attitudes to Migration
  • Sheffield Biodiversity
  • Saving Energy with Virtual Reality
  • The 10bn Student Magazine
The migration research team presenting their findings
The migration research team present their findings
The VR team introducing their undergrad. research project
The VR team introduce their undergrad. research project

3. The Magazine

The event saw the launch of the 10bn magazine, a student-produced publication which captures students’ wide-ranging responses to the theme of 10bn.

The magazine covers everything from climate change to migration to politics, with contributors communicating their thoughts via a range of mediums, including poetry, artwork and photography.

You can read the magazine online here.

The Editor launching the 10bn magazine
The Editor of the 10bn magazine
The magazine group proudly displaying the finished 10bn magazine
The magazine group proudly displaying the finished magazine

2. The Food

A fabulous reclaimed food buffet was provided by The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield.

Guests devoured the fresh fruit, muffins, sandwiches and salads provided by this sustainable organisation. There was even a pheasant pie to sample!

The few morsels left over at the end of the evening were quickly swooped up by students and taken back to share with their housemates (we hope!).

After all, waste not want not!

3. The guests

The HRI was full to bursting with academics and professional services staff, as well current second year students, all excited to see the work students had produced.

Our deputy PVC for Learning & Teaching, Paul Latreille, was one of the academics to speak at the event. He began by congratulating the students on their hard work, and went on to say how impressed he was by the quality of their projects.

We also heard from Amanda Crawley Jackson and Alastair Buckley, the academics heading up the programme. They too were impressed by the students’ work and talked about their exciting plans for the year ahead.

Our guests gave us some really positive feedback, too:

All in all the event was a wonderful way to celebrate the work that students at the University of Sheffield have produced, and to look forward to the year ahead.

If you’re a current second year undergraduate student interested in taking part in next year’s programme, you can sign up and find out more here.

Event Review // ‘Is there space for nature in a world of 10bn?’ // by Harriet Hales


A particularly thought provoking event from the Festival of 10bn in February 2016 was a panel debate which asked: ‘Is there space for nature in a world of 10bn?’

The title of this debate is intriguing in itself, as the subject matter is one you may not immediately associate with the theme of 10bn, which on the surface appears anthropocentric. However, when considering population growth, it is vital that we also consider the impact we are having upon our environment, and the animals with whom we share our planet. Since it is an extremely provocative question,this debate evoked a wide range of responses, and sparked numerous points of contention – as any engaging debate should!

The panelists came from a range of disciplinary backgrounds: Matthew Hethcoat is a Conservation Scientist, Dr Anna Krzywoszynska is a Social Science researcher, Debbie Coldwell is undertaking a PHD in Cultural and Educational ecosystem services, Nicky Rivers is a Living Landscape Development Manager at Sheffield Wildlife Trust and Neil Williams is studying a PHD in the department of Philosophy. This illustrates that to explore a topic such as 10bn effectively, input from a range of perspectives is required.


Opening the debate, the panelists were asked why it is important to make space for nature as we move into a world of 10 billion. A rather harrowing point made was the fact that without nature, the world of 10 billion would cease to exist. Examples were given of the various ways humans depend upon nature, ranging from how nature provides us with food and medicine, to how nature regulates climate and disease, not to mention the benefits it can have for our general well-being.

As panellist Dr Anna Krzywoszynska asserted, ‘our lives are very interconnected with the non-human elements of our survival.’


One of the primary focuses of the debate revolved around the issue of monetary value, and whether or not we should keep economics out of nature. The multiplicity of responses to this key question was insightful, leaving plenty of food for thought.

Debbie Coldwell argued that not putting a value on nature runs the risk that nature may be forgotten about. On the other hand, Neil Williams voiced his concern that focusing on the economic value of nature would enforce the idea that everything can be exchanged for something else, thus jeopardizing creatures that do not provide a service to us.

I found both of these arguments compelling. But ultimately I do not believe that segregating economics from nature is feasible. Money is such a powerful influence in contemporary society. To entirely distance issues of nature from economics would require a radical change to the way society functions.


One of the closing issues debated by the panel was how to get people to care about nature. I thought that this question was highly significant, because in order to live harmoniously with nature it is necessary to respect it.

Encouraging members of the community to experience the beauty and health benefits of nature from a young age was the main response to this question. It is education, the experience of natural surroundings and discovering the benefits of nature that will lead individuals to care about it and fostering a desire to contribute to conservation efforts.

Overall, the debate was intellectually stimulating and it inspired me to consider more deeply the impact humans are having upon the natural world and what the long term dangers of exploiting nature are.

In direct response to the question posed by the title of this debate, I would argue that we must make space for nature if we are to sustain a population of 10 billion. The manner in which we do this is a highly complex question, and possible ways of tackling this problem were explored in other Festival of 10bn events, such as the talk on sustainable energy and the Real Junk Food Project.