How can academic research engage society? How do researchers understand and strive for social impact through engaging society in their research projects?
To explore these questions, we undertook a mapping of collaborative research projects across five ERUA alliance Universities. These projects reflect a great diversity of collaboration formats as well as thoughts about how researchers themselves understand what collaborating with society entails. This ranges from making sure that the products of their research are accessible to everyone and developing practical solutions to societal issues to questioning their role as a researcher and looking at social impact as utopia. Or sometimes even questioning the need to distinguish “societal engagement” as a separate element of research, if one engages in experimental methodologies where theories, conceptualization, collaboration and research action are inseparable.
With this mapping we invite you to explore the diversity of ways researchers engage society in their projects and understand the social impact they create. We also invite you to see their struggles, ambitions and dreams in trying to meaningfully engage non-academic participants and make their research useful for society. We hope that this mapping of different ways researchers collaborate with society can spark curiosity in other researchers and even perhaps foster new inter-University, interdisciplinary collaborations. We also hope that for people who are not a part of academic circles this mapping can serve as a source of inspiration on how we all, as a society, can take part in co-production of knowledge.
The descriptions of the projects in this mapping are a collaborative process of co-production between researchers themselves and the RE: ERUA WP3 team. To produce these descriptions, the researchers were, firstly, interviewed on the broad topic of responsible research. The selection of the interview participants covered all academic seniority levels from PhD fellows to Professors, a broad range of academic disciplines (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, technical/engineer fields), as well as a 50/50 gender balance. Then the interviews were screened to pick out projects which researchers highlighted as collaborative in their research career. The interviews also provided ground for analysis of how researchers understand collaboration and citizen engagement. Based on the particular focus of the project, a number of keywords were attached to each project to highlight a certain aspect of societal engagement prevalent in the project. The list of keywords is provided to help the visitors of the web-page to search for collaborative projects which correspond to their own research interests.
A number of project descriptions are also accompanied by a short video where researchers present their collaborative projects and share learning takeaways from engaging societal actors in their academic work.
Activism, Participatory methods, Interdisciplinary collaboration, Social impact, Societal impact, Impact, Co-creation, Anticipation, Inclusion, Reflexivity, Transparency, System-based collaboration, Creativity, Digital collaboration, Open science, Open access, Action research, Creative research methods, Societal engagement through teaching, Changing norms, Knowledge dissemination, Practical solutions, Youth engagement, Diverse stakeholders, Capacity-building, Empowerment, Democratization of knowledge, Challenges of collaboration, Citizen science