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Collaboration for new knowledge in culture and society


The Centre for Integrated Research on Culture and Society will make it easier for researchers to create broad research environments with researchers in different subjects.

Uppsala University is aiming to develop new research collaborations spanning different research subjects. The newly created Centre for Integrated Research on Culture and Society at the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences will facilitate the growth of innovative research collaborations.

The Uppsala University Board decided on 15 November to establish the Centre for Integrated Research on Culture and Society (CIRCUS) at the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences. CIRCUS will be an environment for initiating and developing collaboration in multidisciplinary and problem-driven research.

“Our strength lies in our strong disciplinary research and we aim to supplement this strength with more collaboration between different research subjects,” says Anna Singer, Deputy Vice-Rector for the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences. “New knowledge is often created in the meeting between different research subjects.”

Facilitating work for researchers

Organisationally, CIRCUS is directly under the Humanities and Social Sciences Disciplinary Domain Board. It is a five-year project funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s strategic funds and by the Humanities and Social Sciences Disciplinary Domain Board.

“CIRCUS will facilitate work for individual researchers and research groups in the important initial phase of new collaborations, both within the humanities and social sciences and with the two other disciplinary research domains,” says Singer. “A group of researchers may, for example, see problems that need to be researched or opportunities for research financing that require research from different subjects. They should then be able to turn to CIRCUS and develop their ideas in the forms of support offered there. With CIRCUS, we want to give our researchers the opportunity to work together to shed light on research and societal issues in various areas. This is actually nothing unusual – we researchers do that all the time – but it takes a lot of time and we want to support this important work.”

Positive response

During the process of developing the proposal for CIRCUS, Singer has been met with great interest and curiosity among the researchers.

“It feels like an idea whose time has come,” she says. “It has also become clear that CIRCUS meets many of the needs pointed out in the current Quality and Renewal 2017 Report.”

CIRCUS will have staff, visiting research fellows and premises with space for seminars. CIRCUS will work with calls for applications, networks, workshops, research contacts and more.

“It is difficult to be more specific at present,” says Singer. “We want the scientific director we employ to have the space to develop their vision of the organisation. But CIRCUS will need staff with experience in working in multidisciplinary research environments.”

Inspiration from Cambridge and Oxford

CIRCUS was partly inspired by similar organisations at universities in Cambridge (CRASSH) and Oxford (TORCH), which are both hubs for interdisciplinary research collaborations.

“But we will not apply direct government funding for research at CIRCUS as they have done at CRASSH and TORCH,” says Singer. “Instead, we want CIRCUS to develop an organisation that can stimulate new research programmes and research funding at our departments. This is important to us.”

Now that the formal decisions regarding CIRCUS have been made, the work is ready to move into a more resolute phase.

“We are currently working to find premises and fill positions such as scientific and administrative directors,” says Singer. “We are also writing instructions for CIRCUS and forming a board of directors.”

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