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Empathy and Trust In Communicating Online (EMoTICON)

The AHRC worked in partnership with ESRC, EPSRC, Dstl and CPNI to commission new research to develop a greater understanding of how empathy and trust are developed, maintained, transformed and lost in social media interactions.

Expressions of interest were invited from arts and humanities researchers, along with researchers from other disciplines, interested in taking part in an intensive, five-day interactive, inter-disciplinary, commissioning workshop (sandpit) on 6-10 January 2014, to be held at Cranage Hall in Cheshire. Find out more in the Empathy and Trust In Communicating Online (EMoTICON) Sandpit call.

New Dynamics of Ageing

The New Dynamics of Ageing programme was a five year multidisciplinary research initiative with the ultimate aim of improving quality of life of older people. The programme was a collaboration between five UK Research Councils - ESRC, EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC and AHRC - and was the largest and most ambitious research programme on ageing ever mounted in the UK (at the time).

The programme aimed to develop practical policy and implementation guidance and novel scientific, technological and design responses to help older people enjoy better quality lives. This required integrating understandings of the changing meanings, representations and experiences of ageing and the key factors shaping them (including behavioural, biological, clinical, cultural, historical, social, economic and technological), through direct engagement with older people and user organisations. The programme harnessed inputs from a wide range of disciplines to reveal the dynamic interplay between ageing individuals and their changing technological, cultural, social and physical environments - local, national and global - and developed methods and means for overcoming the consequent constraints on the quality of life of older people.

Further information can be found on the New Dynamics of Ageing website (opens in a new window).

Cultures of Consumption

Consumption, and the ways in which citizens and communities consume, stands at the epicentre of international public affairs, policy making and intellectual life. The future of democracy, wealth and welfare and the changing relationship of commerce and culture are just a sample of the debated subjects that are heavily influenced by consumer rights and interests, culture and policy.

This £5 million programme, jointly funded by ESRC and AHRC, began in 2002 and closed in 2007. It brought together leading researchers from the arts and humanities and the social sciences. Its purpose was to deepen understanding of consumption and consumers by exploring the dynamics of consumer cultures and to highlight political, economic and cultural implications for the future.

Commissioning took place in two phases and 26 research projects were supported. These ranged from the consumption of public services in Britain to the consumption of drugs in East Africa. A programme of International Visiting Fellowships also attracted 13 scholars from seven countries to the UK to contribute to the work of the programme.

Further details about the programme and its outcomes can be found on the Cultures of Consumption website (opens in a new window)

Networks in Synthetic Biology

The AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, and EPSRC allocated £950,000 to co-fund networks in the area of synthetic biology. Synthetic Biology is widely acknowledged as a growing area of interest across several disciplines, notably the biosciences, engineering and the physical sciences. The Research Councils recognised that research in this area should be investigated concomitantly with the scientific agenda and as a research progresses. To this end whilst network applications were lead by the natural sciences and engineering, the social sciences and humanities were key contributors. As such, the networks were mutually beneficial to all disciplines involved, and fulfilled the interests of all participants.

In recognition of the involvement of researchers in the social sciences and humanities, the AHRC and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) co-funded relevant networks on a case-by-case basis.


Countering Terrorism in Public Places

The AHRC, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and NSAC allocated £2 million to co-fund projects emerging from the Countering Terrorism in Crowded Places Ideas Factory.

The concept of the Ideas Factory was to organise interactive workshops (sand-pits) on particular topics, involving 20-30 participants. The focus for this sand-pit is to explore long-term ideas for understanding and deterring terrorist behaviour; designing and developing technologies and environments to combat the devastating impact of terrorist attacks in public places. There are several areas where the arts and humanities brought unique perspectives to this area, for example, the ethical and legal implications of the technologies used to counter terrorism, cross-cultural issues regarding norms of behaviours and the impact of architecture and design on the safety of public places.

Nature of Creativity

The Nature of Creativity scheme was a one-off call for applications launched in January 2006, which aims to bring together researchers with non-academic partners to consider and investigate the nature of creativity and its relationships with innovation and risk.

The scheme was co-funded by the AHRC, Arts Council England, Economic and Social Research Council and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. As well as considerably increasing the number of applications, this collaborative funding significantly enhanced the scope of the scheme by extending it to the social science and non-academic business and practitioner communities. The resulting awards demonstrate the broad range of disciplines involved and the breadth of approaches adopted in response to the topical question.

New Security Challenges: 'Radicalisation' and Violence

The AHRC is co-funding this £2.5 million ESRC initiative with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This investment is part of the wider research agenda of the Research Councils. It is expected that the initiative will build on the ESRC's New Security Challenges programme and may complement the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme and the AHRC Diasporas, Migration and Identities programme.

The aim of the initiative is to produce an informed and critical assessment of the diverse causes of 'radicalisation'. It is expected that two kinds of projects will be funded. The first will examine social, political and religious dynamics in and across particular countries and regions; the second will concentrate on thematic issues that cut across geographically defined regions and will provide comparisons with different forms of violent and non-violent movements.

Preserving our Past Workshop

The UK's historic environment is a great national resource and a major contributor to the UK economy. The complex interplay of cultural, economic and physical forces that make up the historic environment means that successfully addressing a range of issues requires input from across the academic disciplines.

To this end, the AHRC, together with the EPSRC, the ESRC, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and English Heritage, invited participants to a workshop event exploring issues relating to the historic environment.

This cross-council initiative enabled academics from a range of disciplines to investigate areas of concern that provided the opportunity for collaboration across the historic environment research community. Following the workshop held on 29h March 2006, participants were eligible to apply for funding to set up research clusters to develop those areas of concern identified at the workshop.

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