At the heart of LEAP and LawLab is the ethic of collaboration – between scholars located in different disciplines, with students, with industry, practitioners, third sector and government. A critical part of our work is engaged in the ‘how to’ of collaboration. We have sought to develop experimental approaches to address a range of physical and cognitive barriers often associated with interdisciplinary practice (e.g. silos, lack of insight into other disciplinary languages and methods).
Developing the Tools to Facilitate Collaborative Practice
The lunchtime workshop series and discussion groups have been centrally embraced within LEAP as an effective way of mobilizing the building of cross-disciplinary understanding and identification of intellectual intersections necessary to build critical platforms for future interdisciplinary collaborations across AHSS and beyond. The LEAP network leads typically identify key themes that are abstracted from specific AHSS work to achieve broader overarching themes that will be germane to a wider audience, but specific enough to facilitate well-focused, discussant-led and engaged conversations. Further technologies for collaborative engagement include ‘friendly Dragons’ meeting points (where scholars and other actors discuss their work and policy aspirations and ‘pitch’ for collaborative engagement) and ‘seed’ projects.
We have planted a series of project ideas aimed at drawing in expertise from across AHSS (and beyond, including internationally) in order to create the conditions for genuine collaborative interdisciplinarity and levering future grant bids. These seed projects arise in different ways – some emerge from a well thought through project idea that needs the skills and expertise of others within the network (and beyond) to work on aspects of it; others emerge from an interesting idea discussed within our LEAP forums which can then be co-constructed into fully-fledged programmes of research with LEAP members. The latter ensures the development of a project design that emerges collaboratively, and one in which all team members play a central role in project design. In addition, a number of these seed projects, such as the Does Gender Matter? Exploring the Experiences of Being a Female Academic in Higher Education project serve to engage LEAP members collaboratively as research participants, and involve learning through doing.