Inside Track - 22 June 2017 - Andy Gouldson, Dean for Inter-disciplinary Research

Inter-disciplinary Research: renewing our commitment

Professor Andy Gouldson, Dean for Inter-disciplinary Research, on how we are renewing our commitment to inter-disciplinarity and the research themes and platforms.

The ambition here at Leeds is to be outstanding for both education and research.  Each informs and benefits the other and it’s one of the things which makes our University a special place for students and colleagues alike. 

We want to be securely placed in the UK’s top ten Universities for research, achieving significant increases in research quality, income and impact.  Several key objectives are targeted at this ambition within the research and innovation strategy delivery plan

As Dean for Inter-disciplinary Research, two of these in particular resonate with me:

  • maximise inter-disciplinary opportunities to address societal grand challenges and
  • develop and support academics to generate the best ideas and reach their full research potential.

Indeed, my focus is on ensuring that we conduct world leading inter-disciplinary and impact-oriented research on the grand challenge themes: cities, culture, energy, food, health and water as well as on the platforms in social sciences, climate change, data analytics and structural biology.

Inter-disciplinary is the key point here. By collaborating in new and exciting ways across all of our themes and platforms, and beyond, we can unlock the huge potential within our University community to break new ground and impact on big societal issues.  We must do this to successfully realise our ambitious plans.

We have a significant track record of success in this area. We have ground-breaking inter-disciplinary work underway with major grants helping us to understand the impacts of climate change on food security and to improve our resilience to floods and droughts. Our innovative work on data analytics is creating new ways of addressing major challenges in health and human behaviour. Our cross-cutting research on infrastructure will enable cities to find new ways of creating social value through infrastructure. And other great inter-disciplinary research will help to promote the cultural industries and the creative sector, not least here in Leeds.

To help us unlock the huge amount of untapped potential that can be accessed through inter-disciplinarity, we have recently consolidated our arrangements for the research themes.  I believe we are now structured to best support our inter-disciplinary research activity, allowing us to foster more of the exemplary quality and depth we are accustomed to, and to realise maximum impact benefits.

To this end, we have created new role descriptions for our theme leads, with more consistency across the themes, improved capacity to collaborate not only within themes but across the themes too and better connections into the rest of the University. 

Associated with this, we are now advertising vacancies for theme lead positions for two themes: culture and food. We would welcome joint applications to share the leadership roles, especially from two candidates from different faculties.

This is an exciting time to be involved in inter-disciplinary research.  Successful candidates will develop their theme strategy, identifying distinctive strengths and establishing clear priorities for the short, medium and long term.  In addition, themes will benefit from strengthened, systematic support, tied into the University’s broader strategies. 

With that additional support system in place, aspiring theme leads now have the chance to have a big impact in the intellectual leadership of their field, and to help Leeds to continue to strengthen its position as a leader in collaborative inter-disciplinary research with real world relevance and impact. 

To be eligible to apply, you must hold an academic post at grade 9 or 10 at the University.  Each theme will benefit from a minimum of 0.4FTE of leadership time, and we are particularly interested in two people from different faculties taking joint ownership with 0.2FTE each.  The closing date for applications is 12 July 2017

The role descriptions are available to view on our jobs webpages:

Interdisciplinary Theme Lead: Food

LHRI Director / Interdisciplinary Theme Lead: Culture

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please contact me to arrange this:

Tel: 0113 343 9753

Profile: Professor Andy Gouldson

Andy is Professor of Environmental Policy and Dean: Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Leeds.  He has a background in economics and public policy.  He completed his PhD at the LSE where he worked for ten years before moving to Leeds in 2006. Read more

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