Friday, 25 September 2015

Interdisciplinary Kent: Three Films

As long time readers of this blog will know, I've been working with Jasper Bouverie of Funder Films to produce three short films celebrating the University's roots in - and on-going support for - interdisciplinarity. The films were finished in time to be premiered at Kent's 50th Anniversary shindig on 5 September, and are now available on its YouTube channel, below:

In presenting the films, Jasper gave a thoughtful and passionate introduction to the project, to why it was important to him, and why interdisciplinarity is important for us all. Here is a transcript of his words:

Jasper Bouverie
'Thanks everyone for coming. It’s a great honour for me to have these films shown in a cinema. It’s even more of an honour that there are even people in the audience.

I’m not going to speak for long at this stage but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed making these films. I enjoyed meeting and working with all the people I had to work with. I had some great conversations. I am particularly indebted to all of the interviewees and to Simon the presenter and to Phil Ward who commissioned the films. Thank you very much.

I wanted to say a few words about what this project has meant to me on a deeper level. Interdisciplinarity it seems to me is about embracing something new. For academics who have been studying a particular subject for years, it can be a leap of faith. There must be the chance that you may feel awkward, that you will be concerned that you are asking the wrong question, or misunderstanding the language of your partner discipline. In the films you will see that there is some reference to this initial feeling of foolishness – as well as the feeling of triumph when the new discipline has been mastered.

In a sense this is what I have been doing in making these films. I am trained as a radio producer and a journalist – so pictures are new to me. For the past couple of years I’ve been embarked on my own leap of faith. I still feel slightly awkward.  This occasion is a very important stepping stone.

Another reason why this for me is a significant project is because, prior to becoming a video producer, I worked on one of the big issues of our time - climate change - as communications director for a small non-governmental organisation called the Climate Parliament. Our aim was to talk to the world’s members of parliament about solutions to the climate problem. To understand the solutions we had to talk to academics, energy specialists, ecosystem specialists, businessmen, policymakers, philanthropists,  uncle tom cobbly and all. And then we had to get everyone to agree...! 45,000 people attended the Copenhagen summit in 2009. I was one of them. I don’t think anyone listened to what I had to say. And I’m not sure I really listened to anyone else. We all know that no-one agreed about anything at all.

It was while working at the Climate Parliament that I came to realise that film has an important role to play in coordinating efforts on these big issues, and communicating thoughts and results to funders, policymakers, and to the general public.

That was why I set up Funder Films and embarked on my own leap of faith.

I think it says a lot about the University of Kent in its early days that the university’s first Vice Chancellor Geoffrey Templeman established an enabling environment where these leaps of faith were so commonplace. He really must have been a man of great energy and vision.

And I applaud the University for attempting to recover this enabling environment now. Given the dynamic academics I’ve spoken to and the new buildings being constructed on campus, I think all the ingredients are here. The world certainly needs it to happen.

I hope you enjoy watching the films. I certainly enjoyed making them and thank everyone involved for giving me the opportunity to do so.'

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