£1 million awarded for arts ‘enlightenment’ research

Published: 8 December 2014

Researchers from the University of Glasgow have been awarded over £1 million as part of an initiative to redefine how we share knowledge in the digital age.

What can a clinician learn from a criminologist? Or how can computer programmes be used to interpret Victorian literature?

Researchers from the University of Glasgow have been awarded over £1 million to answer questions such as these as part of an initiative to redefine how we share knowledge in the digital age.

At a time when the advancement of technology has led to increasingly narrow specialisms, 15 new research projects, announced today - 8th December - will revolutionise how experts share knowledge, insights and methodologies in an age when knowledge usually stands for depth but not breadth of understanding.

The 15 Doctoral Scholarships will be awarded over a period of 3 years and will aim to connect banks of information held in collections across a wide range of subjects.

Examples of specific projects to benefit from the new funding include:

  • ‘Trafficking routes to collections: drugs, guns, people and heritage’, which will investigate how items in our art collections share a history with other trafficking networks around the world.
  • ‘Privacy: Past, present and future’, which will look at the ethical questions surrounding the collection, recording and sharing of medical information and samples.
  • Syphilis: revaluating the emotional history of a pandemic’, which will explore the recently digitised collections of early printed works on syphilis and investigates how the disease affected people emotionally and socially, as well as medically, in the 16/17/18/19th centuries.

The £1,050,000 project, called ‘ Collections: an Enlightenment Pedagogy for the 21st Century’, has been funded by a Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships Grant, and will be led by Karen Lury, Professor of Film & Television Studies at the University of Glasgow.

Researchers will conduct work towards driving collaborative engagement between the arts and humanities and medical sciences, engineering and social sciences. They will work between material collections in museums and galleries, statistical data, paper archives and medical data-banks and will secure the University and the City of Glasgow as a world-leading centre for research, management and creative engagement with collections.

Professor Karen Lury said: “The need for a holistic vision for the academy is all the more pressing now, as researchers confront an environment where advances in digitisation and an accelerating global connectivity has further increased the complexity and sheer number of accessible collections, whether these are artefacts, data or other kinds of ‘collected’ material.

“It is becoming easier for disciplines to lose touch with each other when pushed into increasingly narrow specialisms, when there is much they might share and be able to benefit from.

“This project is a unique vital step towards ensuring that the collections that we have here in Glasgow are available and accessible to anyone in the world who wishes to access them, and that we are using what are invaluable resources to their fullest potential.”

‘Collections’ will work with partners including the University’s Hunterian Collection and Library Special Collections Unit, the archives of Glasgow Life, the Scottish Screen Archive and various international collaborations in the United States, India and across Europe.

The projects are also designed to tie in with the University of Glasgow’s investment and development in the Kelvin Hall which, when opened in September 2016, will be a major international hub promoting research and engagement with the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery’s 1.3million artefacts and the City of Glasgow own municipal collections.

Professor Matthew Walters, Head of the Undergraduate Medical School in the College of MVLS said: “I'm hugely excited to be a part of this project, as it pushes Glasgow’s interdisciplinary research to unprecedented heights and creates some intriguing and provocative new interfaces between excellent research groups across the full breadth of our University.”

The grant is one of only 14 awards given by the Leverhulme Trust in a nationwide competition.

Media enquiries: leila.khoshoie@glasgow.ac.uk / 0141 330 3683

Notes for Editors

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing over £60m a year. For more information about the Trust, please visit www.leverhulme.ac.uk

First published: 8 December 2014