OURE – Office of Undergraduate Research and Enterprise – Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences
My name is Dr Louise Owusu-Kwarteng. I am a senior lecturer in Sociology and Director of Undergraduate Research for Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. We established the Office of Undergraduate Research in October 2018, with the aim of facilitating as many staff-student research collaborations as possible. As I have noted in a recent article entitled ‘Livin and Learnin, Tellin stories, Challengin narratives: Critical reflections on engaging students from marginalised groups in academic research activities’ (Owusu-Kwarteng, 2019). Staff- student research collaborations are a valuable part of a student’s university experience:
Including students in research projects also improves research and enquiry skills (through the identification of research problems and strategies to address them), enables more active engagement in learning and enhances overall educational experiences, within and beyond the academic curriculum (Walkington, 2016; Allin, 2014; Healey, 2005 in Owusu-Kwarteng 2019).
Moreover, there is continued emphasis on academic attainment of students from ‘marginalised’ groups at a local and national level. An issue that is considered as impacting on this is their sense of belonging at university, which in turn is partly shaped by their relationships with their lecturers (Mountford- Zindars et al 2015; Stephenson 2012). Thus, opportunities for staff-student research collaborations can help to foster positive relationships and a sense of belonging and enhance achievement.
Funding was available for these research collaborations, and we were able to support the following projects:
- David Hockham – Senior Theatre Technician and Production Tutor “What about us”
- Dr. Elena Vacchelli Associate Professor in Sociology “Student Experience Qualitative Research”
- Dr. Mary McAlinden – Department of Mathematical Sciences “Building on Beacon – Enhancing Employability for all – staff-student partnerships”
- Dr. Victoria Carolan – Senior Lecturer History “Powdered Eggs and Camp Coffee: Practical Engagements with WW2”
- Dr. Andrew Hill and Kam Rehal “Aural Histories – Greenwich and St Alfege”
- Dr. Louise Owusu-Kwarteng, Director of Undergraduate Research FLAS, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader Sociology and Dr Ewa Sidorenko Senior Lecturer in Education and Childhood Studies (Faculty of Education and Health) ‘’Livin Our Best Lives’ Autobiographical Reflections of Life in Current Times’’
Livin Our Best Lives Symposium
‘Livin Our Best Lives’ Autobiographical Reflections of Life in Current Times was a symposium hosted by the Applied Sociology Research Group, on 24th May 2019. Students from the Hons Sociology and Combined Honours and Community Studies and Education degrees shared autobiographies through spoken word, conference papers, enactments and posters, which they worked closely with Dr. Louise Owusu-Kwarteng (Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Sociology) and Dr Ewa Sidorenko (Senior Lecturer in Education and Community Studies) to develop. These papers explored the increased pressures to navigate our lives in a more or less ‘linear’ fashion, achieve academic and socio-economic success in the face of increasing competition and social and political chaos. They also considered issues associated with making life look like it is a smooth journey, which is further enhanced by the social-media gaze, how they developed understandings of themselves and ‘live their best lives’. The autobiographies will form the basis of an autobiographical publication also entitled ‘Livin our best lives’’ Autobiographical Reflections of Life in Current Times.
Student Conference Attendance
We have also funded students’ conference attendance including – Ashlie Snelling (LLB Law), who attended the British Council of Undergraduate Research in April 2019
Collaborate to innovate – Makin’ those international connections -Council of Undergraduate Research
Another facet of my role is to develop international connections with the potential for research/teaching collaborations. My focus has been with North American institutions. To that end, I joined the Council of Undergraduate Research conference in Columbia Ohio, and attended their conference, where I met a number of my contacts (and made many more) and presented a poster on the work of FLAS Office of Undergraduate Research, shared best practice, but also gave advice to those who had just started.