Fulbright Research Project Scholarly Networks

Scholarly Networks: Social Networking for Academics

While chatting with Colleen Dube (Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission in Ireland) about the personal and professional impact of receiving a Fulbright scholar award, I realised that although “Fulbright changed my life” seemed to be a popular refrain, no one had ever really explored why that was so and in what specific ways Fulbright had changed their lives.

Following this discussion (and many more like it), I am pleased to announce a new research endeavour between higher education institutions in Ireland and the United States.

Using the Fulbright scholarly network as the context, this international research project examines the role of scholarly networks in lifelong professional learning for faculty in higher education.

Some of the questions that we hope to explore with this research include:

  • Why are some academic staff more engaged with building a research community and are better at building social networks, while others struggle on alone?
  • Can joining a scholarly network improve your academic profile and what are the downsides (if any)?
  • Where are these networks? How do you join one? Is there a secret handshake? How do you find out what’s the right place, right time, and who are the right people to be around?
  • Whose advice can you trust when everyone in the network is competing for the same resources and opportunities?
  •  Why are some disciplines so much better at engaging their researchers and collaborating in these networks?
  • What effect does academic culture have on the success of a scholarly network?
  • Where do all the different disciplines meet? Or do they?
  • How does a scholarly network stay relevant and important to the individual members?

In the first stage of this study we examine the Fulbright award as an interdisciplinary ‘club’ or social network where knowledge is shared across academic fields and opportunities for research and publication with people from different disciplines are created. We ask whether the nature of the Fulbright award in particular creates opportunities for international relationships, both personal and professional, to be developed?

Stay tuned to this blog for updates (and outtakes!) on the how this research project develops.

Doctoral Research RDLE Effect Research Projects

Introduction to the RDLE effect

Thinking and Talking Across The Disciplines – the RDLE effect

The transformational effect of technology on how we live, and its application to different work disciplines are some of the ongoing societal challenges of the future. Radically rethinking our education system in order to cultivate creativity, innovation and thinking across the disciplines is one way of preparing for this future.

Post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers need to develop cross-disciplinary skills to communicate with, and apply their research to, industry organisations working in a similar discipline (such as IT or medicine) and with organisations working in other disciplines. Therefore researchers must develop new and different skills and perspectives. They must also learn insider inquiry; how to be immersed in local situations and generate contextually embedded knowledge that emerges from direct experience. Transforming graduate and post-graduate thinking and learning beyond their disciplinary boundaries is central to the transition from university to working life and to the need for research-based responses to the societal challenges identified earlier.

This study explores how an R&D project environment can create opportunities for researchers to develop the skills of insider inquiry and the ability to think and talk across disciplines; exploiting the potential of their research, which was carried out in their primary discipline, while being aware or open to its application in other disciplines. More precisely, the aim was to identify how to create learning spaces that enable one to think beyond one’s own discipline; to inquire from the inside; and to communicate across professional disciplinary divides. The overall objective was to explore how distinctive learning spaces can be built into R&D learning environments (RDLEs) in order to create opportunities for cross-disciplinary transformative learning to occur.