Research Festival: Green Space, Lujiazui Central, Shanghai, China
  • Rolle Marquee, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus PL4 8AA and online via Zoom

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The British Academy advocates for the notion of Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy/Environment (SHAPE) disciplines, promoting their role in tackling global research challenges aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“These subjects help us make sense of the human world, to value and express the complexity of life and culture, and to understand and solve global issues. SHAPE skills are particularly valuable to the 21st-century workplace – analysis, interpretation, creation, communication and collaboration. And together with STEM subjects, they help us make innovation work harder for the benefit of everyone.” (British Academy 2022)

How can your research achieve greater impact through bringing together SHAPE and STEM disciplines?

The University of Plymouth has a long-established record of collaboration between academics in the SHAPE and STEM disciplines, supported by the three Strategic Research Institutes. With initiatives such as the Centre for Systems Thinking and the Centre for Coastal Communities advancing increased connectivity between disciplines, it is clear there are numerous shared goals to achieve and challenges to overcome together.

Featuring an insightful keynote with the Chief Executive of the Academy of Social Sciences, Dr Rita Gardner CBE, learn more about how SHAPE subjects are vital to understanding how best to take a truly systems-thinking approach to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Hear the latest developments in ongoing research from University of Plymouth academics that explore questions from how to design cities sustainably to how young people respond to climate change. This event is also the chance to learn more about opportunities to forge new collaborations and strengthen interdisciplinary working.

This event will be hybrid-delivery, meaning it will take place in-person and be streamed online. Please note that online streaming will take place from 09:00-10:40 only. Unfortunately the roundtable discussion will not be available for online attendees. Please select if you will be attending in-person or online during booking.

This event will be of most interest to those working in both SHAPE and STEM subjects (including across marine, environmental and health sciences) seeking to connect with each other for future research and grant opportunities.

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09:00 | Welcome by Professor James Daybell, Associate Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business
09:10 | Keynote: 'Shaping responses to global and UK research challenges – the power of multi-disciplinary social science and STEM collaborations?' by Dr Rita Gardner CBE, Chief Executive of the Academy of Social Sciences
09:40 | Where SHAPE meet STEM at the University of Plymouth 
Examples of recent research projects where arts, humanities and business academics collaborated with marine and environmental scientists 
10:40 | Break and networking
11:00 | Roundtable discussion: SHAPEing systems thinking chaired by the three Strategic Research Institute Directors: Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS, Professor Sheena Asthana and Professor Will Blake.
A discussion on how researchers in SHAPE disciplines can contribute to the work of the Marine Institute, Sustainable Earth Institute and Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research, responding to the questions: 
  • How do the arts, humanities and social sciences contribute to research challenges around marine, and life below water?
  • How does SHAPE respond to the sustainability goal of climate action? 
  • How are SHAPE researchers tackling the sustainable goals of good health and well-being and reduced inequalities? 
11:45 | Summary of discussions and conclusion
Dr Rita Gardner, Academy of Social Sciences

Keynote speaker

Dr Rita Gardner CBE, Chief Executive of the Academy of Social Sciences 
A professional geographer, Rita became Academy CEO in 2019. Previously she was Director at the Royal Geographical Society where she led a strategic programme of modernisation and expansion, advocacy for geography, and public and policy engagement. Rita holds four leading geography awards, six honorary degrees and a CBE for services to geography. 

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

Please be aware that some of the University of Plymouth's public events (both online and offline) may be attended by University staff, photographers and videographers, for capturing content to be used in University online and offline marketing and promotional materials, for example webpages, brochures or leaflets. If you, or a member of your group, do not wish to be photographed or recorded, please let a member of staff know.