Impact for beginners: a new seminar series in FLAS

The end of the REF2021 cycle provides  an  opportunity to share and reflect on impact in the hope of developing more knowledgeable, proactive and collaborative strategies for the future of social research in our university.

Two FLAS based lecturers, Dr Elena Vacchelli (Centre of Applied Sociology Research) and Dr Giulia Zampini  (Gender, Deviance and Society Research Group) are working together to extend the legacy of a first collaboration event between the criminology based group and the Applied Sociology Research Centre which took place in 2018.  

“Impact for beginners” is a series of workshops, seminars and events unpacking “impact” with a view to support our understanding and practices while also establishing themed working groups. During the first talk in June 2021, Professor Claire Donovan  shared some pearls of experience and wise insights on the workings of impact. Professor Donovan, who joined Greenwich in 2020, has a fascinating background: her research and participation to the Technical Working Group on Research Impact in the Australian context directly contributed to influencing the design of the impact component of the 2014 REF strategy in the UK  (wow, impact on ‘impact’, people!). In this context, Professor Donovan was a strong advocate for the use of narrative impact case studies along with more quantitative indicators. She is  particularly invested in developing strategies for impact in social science and humanities research, which is at the core of FLAS’ impact practices. During the talk, Claire also pointed to the importance of knowledge co-production and embedding impact into project planning from the get-go. For more details, you can watch the talk here

In the second part of the webinar, participants were invited to share their experiences of making ‘impact’ happen. Ensuing discussions touched upon institutional enablers and barriers of impact. Some fascinating questions came up in the Q&A, such as the potential epistemic differences between what counts as impact in the humanities and social sciences’, understandings of and approaches to impact, as well as the subtle variations and overlaps between research impact, research beneficiaries, and knowledge exchange.

Towards the end of the online event, participants were asked what kind of working groups they would benefit from creating to generate collaboration and increase our confidence in tackling the multifarious impact agenda. Some participants expressed an interest in creating a working group with a specific focus on impact in the humanities. Others called for a working group centred on the ethics and practices of co-production. Others still proposed setting up a group on developing good impact case studies in the humanities and social sciences. These core areas of interest will be taken on board for the development of further “Impact for beginners” seminars in conversation with internal and external speakers.

If you missed the webinar but would like to be included in future events and any of these working groups, please contact l and