Highlight Notices

Cross-Discipline Research Networks Exploring Emerging Areas of Cross- Council Enquiry Highlight Notice

This highlight notice, open until the end of July 2015, seeks to encourage research networking applications that explore innovative areas of cross-disciplinary enquiry that straddle the remits of the AHRC and other Research Councils and which involve significant boundary-crossing engagement and exchange between arts and humanities researchers and researchers/ practitioners in emerging areas of science and technology (broadly defined, including social science, engineering and medicine). We hope that the networking awards funded under the highlight will help to bring distinctive arts and humanities perspectives and approaches more centrally into these emerging fields of cross-disciplinary enquiry. The highlight notice also provides an opportunity to build networks to explore, through inter-disciplinary dialogue, how arts and humanities research might play a leading role in the development of research agendas in a number of areas (see below for further information) of potential future collaborative working across the Research Councils.

Through this highlight notice we are looking to support networking activities that will open up new cross- and inter- disciplinary research agendas and develop new collaborations between arts and humanities researchers and other research and practice communities outside the arts and humanities. We also hope that the funded networks will help to identify new opportunities for the AHRC to work with RCUK partners in supporting innovative cross-disciplinary research as the Council enters its second decade in 2015.

In order to be eligible under the highlight notice applications must demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • strong leadership from arts and/or humanities researchers as a part of the core team of investigators and the incorporation and integration of distinctive arts and humanities research perspectives and strengths into the core of the proposed research agenda for the networking activities;
  • a commitment to cross-disciplinary working across the boundaries between the arts and humanities and sciences (broadly defined), including evidence of engagement with researchers / practitioners in the relevant field(s) of science / technology in developing the networking proposal;
  • plans for significant participation by relevant researchers from the sciences and/or relevant fields of practice (e.g. technology development, medicine, engineering etc.) in the proposed networking activities;
  • address emerging areas, disciplines, technologies or issues where there has been relatively little research engagement to date between  the arts and humanities and the sciences and which involve a high degree of potential cross-disciplinary innovation and novelty.

Applications to the highlight notice should include a paragraph at the start of their case for support explaining how their proposal meets all of these criteria and addresses other aspects of the highlight notice.

We will welcome proposals which are more exploratory or speculative in nature in terms of developing the potential for future cross-disciplinary engagement in areas where there may have been limited previous engagement between different research communities and recognise that in some cases this may generate increased risks or uncertainty around the research outcomes.

Proposals which draw on a range of perspectives and subjects from within the arts and humanities will be strongly welcomed but proposals which are only or primarily cross-disciplinary within the arts and humanities will not fit this highlight notice (though of course will be welcomed under the networking scheme more generally).

Whilst we will welcome cross-disciplinary proposals addressing any area of potential boundary-crossing engagement in relation to emerging issues in sciences and technology (broadly conceived), we are particularly keen to encourage applications addressing any of the following areas:

i) Risk

ii) Conflict, transnational organised crime or cyber- security

iii) Cities / urbanisation/ urban Living / ‘smart’ cities

iv) Valuing nature

v) Anti-microbial resistance (AMR)

vi) Wellbeing

vii)    Emerging areas of science and technology, (including, for example, the Internet of Things, robotics and autonomous systems, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, wearable technologies, etc.)

Further background details on these highlighted areas of current, or potential future, cross-Council working are attached.

We welcome proposals addressing the intersection between two or more of these areas (e.g. urban conflict, risks of emerging technologies, etc.). In addition, we will also welcome cross-cutting proposals which, for example, explore more generic issues relevant to a number of domains or provide a comparative perspective across a number of fields/ cases. For instance networks could explore issues around responsible or ethical innovation or public engagement in a number of different contexts or compare the historical development or creative representation of scientific / technological developments in several different areas.

This highlight notice has been designed to complement cross-disciplinary research activities under AHRC’s themes and existing cross-Council collaborations. In particular it offers the potential to further extend the range and diversity of cross-disciplinary engagements being developed under the Science in Culture theme. Where appropriate, successful applicants funded under the highlight notice will be expected to share reflections on their research with other researchers under the Science in Culture Theme, including the Theme Leadership Fellow, and to contribute to relevant Theme activities.  In addition, some of the highlighted areas relate specifically to current, or potential future, cross-Research Council programmes, partnerships or collaborations and where this is the case we would hope that funded networks would be willing to contribute to relevant cross-Council events/activities, including consultation activities which may be organised to inform the development of future collaborations.

This highlight notice is open to applications until midnight on 31 July 2015.  Proposals relevant to this highlight notice can be submitted at any time before midnight on 31 July 2015 and will be processed on receipt; early submission ahead of the end of the highlight is encouraged to avoid possible delays in processing if large numbers of applications are submitted close to the end of the highlight period. We will review the response to the highlight notice in August with a view to considering whether it should be extended until later in 2015 and/or amended to highlight a different set of potential future cross-Council areas. We may also add further areas of cross-Council working to the highlight notice during its lifetime as new opportunities emerge.

Proposals relevant to this highlight notice can be submitted at any time while the highlight notice is in existence. All proposals will be assessed on their quality and individual merits according to standard networking scheme criteria. Proposals addressing this highlight notice will not be given priority in the assessment or ranking of applications. However supplementary funding may be made available to support additional highly rated applications addressing the highlight notice that may not have otherwise been funded under the existing networking scheme budget.  In addition, greater allowance may be made for the higher degrees of risk that may be involved in under-taking innovative inter-disciplinary research in novel contexts in determining the cut-off for funding. As a result, applications addressing this highlight notice may have an increased chance of funding, but only if they meet the excellence criteria for the networking scheme as judged through peer review.

For further information, please see the Highlight Notice call document (PDF 95KB, opens in a new window).​ To apply, please see the AHRC Research Funding Guide. Further information about how to apply for this funding opportunity is available on the AHRC Research Networking page.