Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Empathy for Impact

Maddy Bell.
Or possibly Carrie Bradshaw
Maddy Bell joined the University of Kent in December 2015 in the new role of Impact & Engagement Officer in Research Services, after 6 years supporting academic clinicians at the Royal College of Anaesthetists in London.

In this debut blog post, she reflects on the past 7 months in her role and considers the important role of empathy in achieving impact in research, and in her own role at Kent.

When I first considered the idea of blogging, it took me back to the ponderings of Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw and her infamous column philosophising over relationships. Head balanced on my fist, gazing out of my window onto some cosmopolitan hustle and bustle, swish laptop open and contemplative pout at the ready. 

As it goes in reality, if I turn my head to an uncomfortable 90 degrees, my glance is met with the breeze block mass that is Cornwallis, and on the grass in-between, the remains of a furry animal apparently having met a dramatic end. My keyboard is scattered with mystery crumbs and the odd green tea splash.

That aside, the University of Kent in summer is the perfect place for pondering and contemplation. In the relative quiet and calm on campus following the end of term, I find myself reflecting on the last 7 months since my appointment as Impact & Engagement Officer in Research Services. Reflection, I believe, is how we learn and get better at being our best. My overarching aim at Kent is to add value; to have my own impact here and to engage colleagues in these agendas.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Vanilla Strategies

Just a little bit 'meh'
Last month I mentioned that the University of Kent had been going through the process of drafting a new Institutional Plan, with an associated Research and Innovation Strategy. The strategy’s vision is for the university to be “clearly recognised worldwide for the quality of its research...[to undertake] radical and innovative research [with] broader impact...to be exploited through partnership with those in industry, government, charity or the cultural sector...[and] embedding research-led teaching.”

Excellent research, impact, partnership, and research-led teaching. Sounds familiar? If it does, it’s no surprise. Almost every university has something similar: essentially they all want to host the best researchers undertaking the best research with the best partners, which will result in the best impact and best teaching. Sometimes interdisciplinarity is thrown in, sometimes mention is made of specific disciplinary priorities.