Research Nation: Nottingham Is In The Middle Of A Forest Of Academic Excellence

Author: Stephen Khan

(MENAFN- The Conversation) What do you know of Nottingham? A Forest, perhaps. Or a Sheriff. Those not from the fine city on the River Trent might argue over whether it is in the north or south of England – both geographically and culturally. I suspect its residents primarily and proudly identify as neither. Indeed the English region it inhabits asserts such independence from the national binary debate in its name – the“East Midlands”.

Despite some family connections to the wider area, it is a city I've had limited knowledge of or exposure to over the years. So, yes, before firing off any complaints to me about any of the above, please consider this a bit of an admission of naivety. That said, corrections and clarifications are always welcome.

My sense of Nottingham then does not stretch far beyond the aforementioned“Forest”, one of its storied football (soccer) teams , its cricket ground at Trent Bridge and the“Sheriff”, a real-life role that became infamous in fiction thanks to Robin Hood. But I am fortunate enough to have significant access to knowledge from Nottingham.

Editors at The Conversation visit the campuses of member institutions and engage in training and discussions that may well turn into content on the website . Those trips have, over the 11 years since launch in the UK, taken me across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. On every one of those trips I learn about the connections between institutions and their communities, and the applications of the research being conducted within them. We also regularly engage with regional bodies that support specific academic projects.

And so it was that I found myself in Nottingham recently, thanks to the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C). M4C works with a group of universities across the English Midlands to support arts and humanities researchers as they aim to become experts in their fields.

Day of dialogue

I was invited to speak about The Conversation as part of a day of workshops for M4C postgraduate researchers keen to disseminate their research beyond the academy, particularly through non-academic publication. The day was organised by Naush Sabah , Lecturer in Creative Writing at Birmingham City University (yes, which is very much in the West Midlands, before the emails fly), and Rory Waterman , Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Modern & Contemporary Literature, at Nottingham Trent University .

Both of those institutions support The Conversation in the UK, as members of the project, and doctoral students from both were present at the event hosted at NTU's Newton building on its City Campus. It was fascinating to hear about the projects they are developing. For some it was very much an introduction to how The Conversation functions, but a couple had already published with us.

Among them was Patricia Francis , who wrote a piece reflecting on the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK in 2021 and previously looked at the role of women in the British miners' strike of the early 1980s. Patricia explained the process of how she was commissioned and published, adding that the work had led directly to an appearance for her on Al Jazeera television.

We're often asked about how quickly articles are required and some potential authors worry they may not be able to meet deadlines. So, as ever it was useful to allay those fears and reassure researchers that their work can almost always sit at the heart of a journalistic narrative. Sometimes that may mean a quick reaction to events, but in most cases it can just be working with an editor to tease out aspects of the research that are particularly topical.

Not just breaking news

One question from the floor came from Roseanna Smith , whose research considers the relationship between art and industry, specifically how 19th-century catalogues played a role in town planning. In the brief chat we had, it was clear that while her research might not have explained or illustrated matters dominating, for example, the BBC News website of that morning (it was the week the British general election was anounced), it may well form the basis of a gripping exploration of social history with potential applications for contemporary civic planning.

So much Conversation content comes out of discussions like that, either on campus as part of our editorial outreach visits, or by calls following pitches to the editors . For further information on arranging visits and training, UK partner institutions should contact our membership team .

Over sandwiches I met more of the researchers and burnished my knowledge of the city and region. And while Robin and his nemesis are always going to get most of the glory, visitors should also keep an eye out for links to William the Conqueror , DH Lawrence , the Pilgrim Fathers , Lord Byron and Ada Lovelace .

The Conversation


The Conversation

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