This case study assesses the impact of a series of knowledge exchange and
public engagement projects undertaken in London and Northern Ireland
between 2009 and 2013. These projects have made innovative applied use of
a substantial body of research into modern British and Irish religious
history conducted in the Unit.
This activity has:
Through the production of policy and practice reports, public engagement
events, provision of
continuing professional development (CPD) and training for practitioners,
and dialogue with key
stakeholders in government, the research team on sexuality and intimacy in
the OU has had a
direct impact on policy and practice concerning intimate lives in the UK.
In particular, they have
effected change in policy and public understandings of both bisexuality
and intimate relationships.
Underpinning this work is a motivation to shape contemporary debates about
our intimate lives to
further social justice and improve quality of life.
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is an evidence-based, brief, group
therapy for people with mild to moderate dementia. It was developed and
evaluated by UCL in collaboration with Bangor University. Our research
showed significant benefits in cognition and quality of life plus
cost-effectiveness. Cognitive Stimulation for people with mild/moderate
dementia of all types is recommended by NICE and is now in widespread use
across the UK and the rest of the world in a variety of settings including
care homes, hospitals and the community. A recent audit by the Memory
Services National Accreditation Programme reported that 66% of UK memory
clinics surveyed were using CST.
Design thinking has benefited the economic performance of business and
particularly the creative industries, changed awareness of design in
everyday life, and informed public policy. Users and consumers have
benefited from wider understanding of the genesis of products and services
and effects on their quality of life. Design thinking research has been
instrumental in forming a new business sector that provides design
thinking expertise as consultancy. It has changed the processes of
designers and design practices, and fed into UK design education policy.
Design thinking has crossed discipline boundaries; for example framing new
methods and processes in software engineering.
Jackson has provided professional enhancement for directors and
actors by bringing his
research-led insight into the texts and acting traditions of
Shakespearean theatre to bear on
the preparation of scripts for performances. He has achieved this through
rehearsals, working at a detailed level of interpretation and performance.
His research has also
enhanced cultural enrichment for audiences through such forms of public
engagement as essays
in theatre programmes.
The research has had significant impact in three key areas:
`Like Shadows: A Celebration of Shyness' brought together members of the
art and lay-public communities in a lively debate about visitor shyness in
contemporary interactive museums and galleries, in relation to wider
debates about public engagement and social exclusion. The project informed
the working practices of the ten local artists and curators with whom the
researchers collaborated, who created new exhibits on the theme of shyness
and designed the event to appeal to shy visitors. Their reports [see
Sections 4 and 5] show that this experience has made them more aware of
the propensity of digitally-mediated artworks to evoke feelings of shyness
amongst visitors, and of the need to reconsider the design and
presentation of such exhibits to be more `shy-friendly'. This
community-focused event drew in over 7000 visitors, whose feedback
confirmed the tendency of interactive, digital media-based exhibits to
assume a level of performative confidence and technical knowledge,
excluding visitors who felt shy.
Our research has transformed teachers' understanding of reading, leading
to more effective practices. Teachers reconceptualised reading from a
solitary to a social and multimedia practice, resulting in improved
attitudes to reading amongst pupils. Championed by five English Local
Authorities (LAs), one project was implemented in 800 schools (36,000
pupils per year group) with 61% of reading scores rising at twice the
average rate. It was later developed in several other LAs. Embedded in the
training of national literacy consultants (550) and initial teacher
education lecturers (290), this research shaped policy and practice in
England. Using new media, the Our Story app has influenced
teachers' perceptions and children's reading enjoyment in diverse
A historian of suburbanisation and social change, and of town planning, Clapson has
challenged a powerful anti-suburban prejudice in popular and elite cultures in Britain, and
sought to confront negative perceptions of the British new towns.
His impact is international in reach. He has been translated into four languages since 1999 -
Dutch, French, Italian and Japanese - and has been invited to speak at major international
conferences. He has made many media contributions, and has been cited in policy documents
and popular histories of Britain. His influence stems from his nuanced and less hostile position
towards suburbanisation and planning.
Borden's research into the history and contemporary urban practice of
skateboarding, and particularly its role within cities and public spaces,
has enhanced understanding of this global urban activity, leading to
significant changes in how the public and media understand skateboarding
culture in the UK and abroad. His work has also contributed to the
campaign to save a historic skateboarding site at the Southbank Centre in
London, and to moves to protect similar sites elsewhere. Finally, research
by Borden has informed the design and development of some of the most
influential skateboarding venues in the country.