Four out of the five members of the research team (sorry, Peter) spent the first part of July at the AHRC’s Connected Communities Festival. We were all there in various capacities, representing the different projects that we work on, attending the various breakout and off-site sessions that were taking place, as well as representing the Early Career Researchers project itself.
We had a poster displayed in the Motorpoint Arena on the 1st and 2nd of July, which moved to the St David’s Hotel on the 3rd for the dedicated ECR day. The poster summarizes what we’re doing in the project, and the discussion that followed on the 30th of May. You can see the poster at the bottom of this post (with English and Welsh versions).
The poster led to a lot of discussion with people who were attending the Festival; if anything, there was more discussion with more senior academics than with ECRs themselves. This discussion often focused on how these more senior academics, as PIs and Co-Is, were able to balance their roles as both managers and as mentors: whether they were able to ensure both that the ECRs they manage get value from the projects on which they work, and that their participation on Connected Communities projects won’t hinder their ability to get longer-term academic jobs further down the line. This discussion encouraged us that this balance is something that people are conscious of; hopefully it’s not limited to the people we interacted with near the poster.
One of our team, Dave O’Brien, was asked to participate in the final day of the festival as a mentor for ECRs developing research projects. The day was intensive and demanding, with ECRs asked to do large amounts of research development, thinking and networking in a comparatively short amount to time. Dave’s role was to comment, support and assist the ECRs through this process and offer his experience on the several ECR projects of which he has been a part, as well as bringing the perspectives that have developed from the ECR project to the discussions. The day was a fascinating experience for Dave, being on the other side of both project development and ECRs’ perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the Connected Communities project. The results of the funding decisions from the research development day will be announced early in 2015 and there will be come fascinating ECR-led projects taking place next year.
Our contribution to this year’s Festival was pretty cautious: some projects had large display stands with substantial printed material to take away; others organized a huge range of breakout sessions (as you can see from the programme); others balanced all of these activities with all sorts of activities off-site. We’re not sure yet what next year’s event will consist of, but we hope that we’ll be able to come to that with some substantive findings from the research process which is currently underway, and that those findings will feed into the way that Connected Communities will continue to work.
You can see Dave talking about the ECR project in the YouTube frame below.