GCII Executive Group meeting

GCII Executive Group meeting
12.00-13.30, Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Committee Room, UCL Slade School of Fine Art
Dr Robin Aizlewood
Dr Claire Dwyer
Dr François Guesnet (Chair)
Professor Stephen Hart
Professor Axel Korner
Dr Amna Malik
Professor David Napier
Professor Karen Radner
Dr Ian Scott (Secretary)
Professor Claire Warwick
Professor Richard Bellamy
Dr Henriette Bruun
Professor Susan Collins
Professor Helen Hackett
Jacob Leveridge
Alexander Katsaitis
Dr Ruth Mandel
Michael Reade
Nicholas Tyndale
Professor Jo Wolff
Professor Maria Wyke
Members of the restructured Group were welcomed to their first meeting of
AY2012-13. Axel Korner was congratulated on his promotion to a Professorial
Stephen Hart (UCL Spanish and Latin American Studies) and Karen Radner
(UCL Archaeology) were introduced to the Group as new members. Amna
Malik was welcomed to the Group in her capacity as deputy for new member
Susan Collins (UCL Slade School of Fine Art).
Restructured membership
The Secretary noted that the Group had been restructured from its inaugural
development phase membership – which contained a high proportion of
members who were there in a consultative or advisory capacity – to a
membership mostly comprising members who were willing and able to lead
and deliver GCII activities.
Members’ Terms of Reference
The Group discussed the revised ToR. Term (a), referring to ‘delivery of an
institutional culture of wisdom at UCL’ was problematic for some members
because the word wisdom has particular scholarly meanings in the Arts and
Humanities, beyond that which is intended by its use in UCL’s 2011 Research
Strategy, to mean ‘the judicious application of knowledge’. It was agreed that
the connotations associated with the W word were largely positive for the
membership, but the Secretary agreed to produce a revised version of the
ToR with reference to the Research Strategy placed lower down in the series
of terms.
There was strong support for the ToR’s requirement that members should be
signed up to the need for their research to be outward looking, and that they
should be responsible both individually and collectively for knowing what was
going on at UCL. Members acknowledged that the Grand Challenge
programme and the ToR facilitated activities to which they were anyway
committed, indeed, that Intercultural Interaction was core to work in their
individual areas of scholarship, and not just the preserve of the Grand
Minutes of the last meeting
Comments on the Minutes of the 13 June 2012 Meeting of the GCII Executive
Group are noted under the next Minute.
Matters arising from the Minutes of 13 June 2012 Meeting
6.1. Re. Coordination and collaboration between research centres
Minute 1.8 This objective does not require much technical knowledge; the
main need is for human resource to be responsible for googling and
uploading. [CW]
Minute 1.9 A good way to organise (or fit together) research centres in a
coherent way would be to use database-driven visualisation of the kind that
UCL CASA (Centre for Applied Spatial Analysis) is able to generate. [CW]
Finding out who at UCL is active in a particular field remains difficult; it ha
taken years to discover who is working in the Middle East. [KR]
An intuitive system with simple associative links would be very helpful. [AM]
‘Tagging’ of key words or terms is important in facilitating effective searching.
Olly Duke-Williams of the Centre for Digital Humanities has particular
expertise in use of this technique. [CW]
More effective search capacity is needed at UCL to facilitate cross-disciplinary
work relevant to GCII. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have college
systems that effectively achieve this. [KR]
Could Grand Challenges provide funding to facilitate more effective searching
for potential cross-disciplinary collaborations? [AK]
Wikilinks provides a means to build depth around a particular crossdisciplinary activity. [DN]
6.2. Re. The Yale-UCL Collaborative
Minute 2.4 There has been strong interest at UCL and at Yale in the planned
Autumn 2013 workshop on Intersecting Legal Spheres. [KR]
ACTION POINT: Professor Radner requested information on what had been
achieved to-date in the Yale-UCL Collaborative.
6.3. Re. Moscow-UCL Collaboration
Minute 2.5 should refer to the Moscow Higher School of Economics, with
which SSEES has established a Memorandum of Understanding. The MHSE
has spread its wings very widely in the social sciences, and is now the leading
school in that field in Russia. [RA]
Current thematic activity
7.1. Religion and Society [FG]
Three activities:
 A volume combining the activities from the Negotiating Religion
 A collaboration with the University of Cambridge on Religion and the
Idea of the Research University. Meeting scheduled for May 2013 at
Cumberland Lodge, to discuss research on matters religious
 One-off event to wrap-up the Negotiating Religion series – in April or
May 2013 at UCL
There is a new research centre at SOAS: the Centre for the Contemporary
Study of Pakistan. [AM]
7.2. Migration [CD]
A new Masters programme on Migration is building links across the College.
Currently it lacks cross-disciplinary connections with UCL History and UCL
The Migration strand within the Environment Institute is running a photography
competition (open to all staff and students) – ‘Moving People, Changing Lives’
– deadline 15 February 2013.
Keynote lecture on 19 March 2013 by Professor Heaven Crawley (University
of Swansea) on Asexual, apolitical beings: the construction of children’s
identities in the UK asylum system
The UCL Mellon Programme, through the Slade School of Art, supported a
migratory aesthetics video installation Nothing is Missing by Mieke Bal
(Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis) on 20 and 21 September 2012. [AM]
[The Executive Group recommends that the major centres of migration
research acknowledge on their websites their respective involvement]
7.3. Transnational History [AK]
Programme currently handicapped by problems that international students are
experiencing with visa applications.
New professorial appointment: Margot Finn has taken the UCL Chair in
Modern British History. Professor Finn was formerly at the University of
Warwick. Her interests include Material Culture and Cosmopolitanism
The UCL History Images of America project, funded by the AHRC, comes to
fruition in the Spring term when a book will be published. There is to be an
associated seminar series in collaboration with the Institute of Historical
Research, University of London, made possible by a £5,000 anonymous
7.4. Early Modern Exchanges [IS]
Helen Hackett and colleagues in EME continue to explore intercultural
exchange in the early modern period through a number of activities. EME’s
regular programme of research seminars goes from strength to strength,
including, in October, a pair of events to tie in with the ‘Shakespeare: Staging
the World' exhibition at the British Museum. During the Autumn term there
has been an excellent programme of seminars organised by PhD students on
the theme of ‘Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie’, and in the Spring term there
will be a student-led production of Samuel Daniel’s Cleopatra.
Axel Korner is organising one event in collaboration with EME
7.5. Culture and Health [DN]
Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, has encouraged UCL, under Professor
Napier’s leadership, to run a Commission on Culture & Health, to produce a
report for publication in the Autumn or Spring term of AY2013-14. About 60
people from a broad cross-section of the College have expressed interest in
contributing to the work of the Commission, which will pursue its work under
four subthemes, assisted by postgraduate students from UCL Anthropology.
Key to the success of the Commission will be its connections with UCL’s
academic health sciences centre, UCL Partners, including one of UCLP’s
constituent hospitals, North Middlesex University Hospital, based in one of the
most culturally diverse parts of London. The Culture & Health Commission will
link with the UCL Science, Medicine & Society Network’s (directed by DN)
major inaugural theme addressing the challenge of delivering effective
healthcare in a multicultural society.
GCII’s Religion and Society theme merges very well with the Culture and
Health thread. [FG]
A festival in 2014 focusing on mental health – specifically Anxiety – is being
organised by a UCL History of Art student. Currently discussions are ongoing
with several museums and with the Wellcome Trust.
7.6. Dynamics of Civilisation [IS]
Maria Wyke and colleagues submitted a bid to Provost in the third week of the
Autumn term, proposing to establish a centre, as of October 2013, with two
co-directors - Professor Wyke (UCL Archaeology) and Professor Emeritus
Mike Rowlands (UCL Anthropology), plus a postdoctoral researcher associate,
two PhD students, and a series of planned activities. It is currently under
Separate from the centre bid, but related to it, Professor Wyke also reports
that she has submitted a bid to the ERC for an Advanced Grant for a team to
study the representation of ancient civilisations in silent cinema.
Funding in AY2012-13
The Secretary spoke to a paper on the funding available to the GCII in the
current academic year for Executive Group Leadership Activities, Events,
Small Grants, and several specific areas of thematic interest: Migration, Digital
Humanities, Culture & Health and Gained in Translation.
Robin Aizlewood asked whether activity within GCII was beginning to generate
big grant proposals.
Stephen Hart noted the connection between GCII’s support through the
Gained in Translation initiative and a major grant application to the
AHRC on ‘Translating Cultures’ involving SELCS, SSEES and SOAS.
GCII’s GiT support will be used to buttress the AHRC bid (deadline 17
January 2013).
Karen Radner noted that support from the Grand Challenges Small
Grants programme for her work in Iraq with David Wengrow and UCL
Qatar had been influential in preparing the ground for the Dynamics of
Civilisation bid to Provost, and application to the ERC for Adanced and
Consolidator Grants
Francois Guesnet noted that the Negotiating Religion meeting with
University of Cambridge in May 2013 at Cumberland Lodge would be
used to prepare the ground for a major grant proposal on Religion and
Axel Korner asked whether Grand Challenges funding could be used to buy
academic staff out from their teaching duties. Amna Malik noted that this was
an issue for Slade staff too. Robin Aizlewood highlighted the need for
participation in the Grand Challenges to be beneficial at Departmental and
Faculty levels.
The Chair advised that GCII’s website needed to be radically improved in
order to be more relevant and compelling to UCL’s community of scholars and
researchers interested in opportunities for cross-disciplinary engagement and
novel collaborative research.
Karen Radner considered GCII to be a very productive initiative. She would
not have accepted the invitation to join the Group if she had thought
Funded GCII academic activities
GCII leadership activities in 2011/12 could not be discussed in sufficient detail.
All academic leads/applicants of successful bids are to be invited to hand in
brief reports of 0.5 to 1 page
GCII Events in AY2012-13
Professor Hart noted the series of events that he, fellow GCII Exec Group
member Professor Helen Hackett (UCL English), and Elettra Carbonne
(Teaching Fellow, UCL Scandinavian Studies) had been supported to deliver
in Terms 2 and 3 in a programme of activity entitled Gained in Translation
made possible by UCL Annual Fund support for Grand Challenges.
The Secretary noted a GCII-associated event, supported by funds awarded to
Grand Challenges by UCL alumni: ‘Migration: Global Development, New
Frontiers’ – an interdisciplinary conference on migration jointly organised by
the NORFACE Research Programme on Migration and the UICL Centre for
Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), to take place at UCL, 10 - 13
April, 2013
Activity in other Grand Challenges
This item was not discussed.
Further development of GCII
Slade-linked initiatives
Amna Malik described a collaboration with the Dakkar College of Art in
Bangladesh, involving reciprocal workshops with the Slade, on the making of
religious shrines. She noted that cross-cultural dialogue in art practice had not
always informed History of Art. Other areas of opportunity for Slade
engagement with GCII could be the intercultural impact of the life drawing
tradition, which had energised artists from the Indian sub-continent.
Claire Dwyer noted Caroline Bressey’s (UCL Geography) ‘Across the Colour
Line’ initiative.
Lisa Jardine (Director, UCL Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the
Humanities, and the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters)
The Group resolved to invite Professor Dame Lisa Jardine, UCL Chair of
Rennaissance Studies, to its next meeting.
Next Meeting
The Group noted that there would be two further meetings in AY2012-13, in
March and May/June ( the latter either 28 May 10-11:30 or 1-2:30; or June 4,
10-11:30 or 1-2:30)