Societal challenges for heritage science research

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December's Members' Meeting focuses on how heritage science research relates to five proposed societal grand challenges.

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Theme: Societal challenges and the role of heritage science research

This year's NHSF Member Meeting on the Strategic Framework theme of Excellent Research builds on the outcome of the 2019 meeting that agreed the need to identify 'Grand Challenges' for heritage science research to prompt people to think about the relevance of heritage science to society both in the research questions that are asked as well as the way that research is practised.

The NHSF Research Working Group has drafted a provocation paper that identifies five societal challenges and for each has suggested how heritage science research could have a transformational impact on the challenges.

The Members' Meeting is a first opportunity for members to engage with the societal challenges of:

  • Improved wellbeing
  • Digital Society
  • Climate change
  • Equality and inclusivity
  • Sustainable development

Through a combination of external presentations and group work the objectives of this meeting are to:

  • examine the societal challenges in the content of wider strategic initiatives
  • agree actions that will change the way we think about and address the connections between heritage science and society
  • discuss how connecting heritage science to societal 'Grand Challenges' can catalyse new cross-disciplinary approaches and strategic partnerships beyond the field of heritage science.


10.00 Introduction

10.10 Lightning talks - Strategic context for research and public value

Jamie Davies (AHRC) - JPI on Cultural Heritage, Strategic research and innovation agenda (2020)

Lizzie Glithero-West (The Heritage Alliance) - Heritage, Health and Wellbeing

Ewan Hyslop (Historic Environment Scotland) - Climate Heritage Network

Sonia Raikova (EPSRC) - Digital Economy theme and sustainable digital society

11.00 Break

11.15 Break-out sessions - Using the provocation paper to effect change

This session invites people to discuss how the provocation paper can be used to show how heritage science does, or could, connect to the five identified societal challenges. In some cases this might be showing how existing research strategies and practices are addressing the challenges. In other cases it might involve examining the barriers to making these connections and how they can be overcome.

Each group is asked to focus on a different application of the paper.

How is heritage science research addressing the five societal challenges in your organisation's...

  • institutional research strategies and research ethics (group 1)
  • research practice (group 2)
  • approach to external engagement and partnerships (group 3)

11.45 Plenary feedback and discussion - using the provocation paper to effect change.

This session receives and discusses feedback and seeks consensus from members on the next steps for engagement with the provocation paper. Members are invited to think about how the paper can be used to ask the wider heritage sector about the research questions it wants answered in connection with these challenges.

  • Actions for NHSF
  • Actions for individual organisations
  • Actions for the wider heritage science community

12.15 Links to the work of the Communities and Impact working groups

12.30 Close

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Organiser National Heritage Science Forum

Organiser of Societal challenges for heritage science research

The National Heritage Science Forum (NHSF) brings together leading organisations from across the UK that produce and use heritage science research. Forum members work together to share ideas and innovations, maximise the public benefit from heritage science, and speak with a coherent voice on policy and public issues. 

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