• Rolle Marquee, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus PL4 8AA and online via Zoom

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The national and international funding landscape increasingly prioritises multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary research projects. While the benefits to research impact are often significant, working with colleagues and stakeholders across disciplines can present additional challenges and complexities that require creative problem-solving.
Alternative perspectives of how to reframe current research approaches and pursue new threads of thought can lead to effective – if not surprising – results. When was the last time you were pushed outside of your research comfort zone?
This event will challenge your perceptions of how you approach research. Co-hosted with Schumacher College, the opening keynote talk from their Deep Ecology Research Fellow, Dr Stephan Harding & Senior Lecturer, Dr Andy Letcher, sets the tone for a deliberately provocative session to explore ideas through discussion.
After exploring the importance, risks and benefits of transdisciplinary research, you’ll hear others share their experiences of tackling challenges in their disciplines with consideration for how similar methods or solutions may benefit your own work.
Through focusing on sharing best practice and lessons learned, you’ll be able to explore approaches to collaborative problem-solving that transcends disciplines, offering the opportunity to form new connections and reinforce existing links with academics and partner organisations.
This event will be hybrid-delivery, meaning it will take place in-person and be streamed online. The event can be joined online via Zoom for the talks from 14:15 – 15:45 only. Unfortunately the roundtable discussions will not be available for online attendees. Please select if you will be attending in-person or online during booking.
The event will most benefit anyone working on or contributing to complex research projects. This includes researchers from all disciplines and stages of career looking to further their trans-disciplinary working, particularly those with an interest in future REF submissions and upcoming grant proposals. It will also benefit those from partner organisations looking to create or strengthen collaboration opportunities with the University’s academic community.
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14:00 | Arrival and networking 
14:10 | Welcome by Professor Will Blake, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute
Introduction to the event and discussion of multi- vs inter- vs trans-disciplinary research
14:15 | Keynote: 'Science, psyche and meaning' by Dr Stephan Harding, Deep Ecology Research Fellow & Dr Andy Letcher, programme lead for MA Engaged Ecology, at Schumacher College 
A thought-provoking and informative talk with opposing viewpoints to question how and why research methodologies approaches are applied 
15:00 | Rapid research: success stories chaired by Professor Will Blake, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute
A showcase from researchers sharing how they overcame challenges in their transdisciplinary research projects. 3 mins each.  
  • ‘Use of tungsten tailing waste as replacement for cement’ by Dr Shanshan Cheng, Lecturer in Civil Engineering 
  • 'Determining the risk of fine sediments from the landscape on early life stages for freshwater fish’ by Dr Catherine Gutmann Roberts, Lecturer in Environmental Science 
  • ‘GCRF PISCES: preventing litter in Indonesian Societies’ with Dr Matthew Ashley, Research Fellow in Social-Ecological Systems 
  • 'Development of low-cost CO2 and CH4 sensors for understanding wetland carbon flux dynamics' by Dr Scott Davidson, Lecturer in Ecosystem Resilience
  • 'Wherefore the magic? Investigating the origin of psychedelic compounds in nature' by Dr Jon Ellis, Lecturer in Conservation Genetics 
  • 'Do it now: The potential of the strengths approach' by Ms Avril Bellinger, Honorary Associate Professor in Social Work 
  • Dr Mona Nasseri, programme lead for Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College
  • Dr Nathan Einbinder, course lead for Regenerative Food and Farming programmes, Schumacher College
15:30 | Discussion with lightning talk speakers
15:45 | Break 
16:00 |  Roundtable discussions: Overcoming obstacles chaired by Dr Mona Nasseri, Programme Lead for Ecological Design Thinking, Schumacher College
Offer your perspective and collaborate on forming creative solutions to three exemplary complexity challenges. Join the option that takes your interest, or start a new discussion on the ‘neutral’ table. After 30 minutes, you can either change table to explore another topic or continue the conversation where you are. 
Choose from: 
  • Plymouth National Marine Park: valuing and working in harmony with the marine environment – and everyone using it
    Table hosted by Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS, Director of the Marine Institute 
  • Achieving a whole system approach to food and agricultural sustainability
    Table hosted by Professor Will Blake, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute
  • The sustainability of future NHS hospitals
    Table hosted by Professor Sheena Asthana, Director of Plymouth Institute for Health and Care Research
17:00 |  Summary of roundtable discussion
17:10 | Networking with cheese and wine refreshments
18:00 | Event concludes 

Our invited keynote speakers from Schumacher College

Dr Stephan Harding

Deep Ecology Research Fellow
Stephan is one of the founding members of Schumacher College and holds a doctorate in behavioural ecology from the University of Oxford. He has been involved in ecological field research in Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Costa Rica, where he was Visiting Professor in Wildlife Management at the National University. Stephan led and lectured on the college’s MSc Holistic Science for nearly two decades, and has taught alongside many of the world’s leading ecological thinkers and activists. His current interests are the intersects between scientific ecology (especially Gaia theory) and the world of psyche and soul.
Dr Stephan Harding, Schumacher College

Dr Andy Letcher

Programme lead for MA Engaged Ecology
Andy is especially interested in the intersection between ecology and worldview or spirituality. He has doctorates in Ecology (Oxford University) and in the Study of Religion (King Alfred’s College, Winchester). His areas of expertise include neopaganism, shamanism, the new animism, and psychedelic spiritualities. Andy's current research focuses on the proliferation of both scientific and religious interest in psychedelics, and the assumptions, sympathies and antipathies between the various discourses by which psychedelic experience is interpreted.
Dr Andy Letcher, Schumacher College

University of Plymouth speakers

This event responds to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

Interdisciplinary Strategic Institutes

Our diverse research spans three Strategic Institutes. Collaborative endeavour in rich, natural environments drives solutions to global challenges.

Richard Thompson Plymouth Pioneers. plastic bottle in sea

Marine Institute
Marine, maritime, education and innovation expertise integrate to train scientists, engineers, policymakers, artists, technicians and business.


Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research
Transformation in life course, ageing, methodologies, e-health, technology and interventions in health, social care, lifestyle, health and wellbeing.

Research with the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Sustainable Earth Institute
Science, engineering, arts, humanities, health and business, with community, businesses and individuals, innovate to build resilience for our planet.

Research Festival 2022 visual ID - web header

Research Festival 2022

24 June – 1 July
The annual Research Festival returned to celebrate curiosity and collaboration, showcasing leading work across disciplines. The week invited fellow academics, industry, policymakers, students and the public to understand how we are responding to global challenges with a systems-thinking approach to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Evolving into an extended edition that now encompasses the popular Sustainable Earth conference, the Research Festival welcomed attendees to hear about cutting-edge research from leading experts and keynote speakers, learning how your research or business could achieve greater impact through co-creation and collaboration, locally and globally.

Event photography and video

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