Joint AHRC/ESRC Impact Event

Sharon Cooksey, Business & Management, University of Liverpool (2022 cohort)

I’m Sharon, a veterinary surgeon by profession, and I’m just starting my second year of a 4-year PhD at Liverpool University in the Management School. I joined the NWSSDTP Impact Event on 9th November 2022 thinking that it might help me work on this area of my PhD, but I had little idea what to expect.

It wasn’t what I thought it would be, in a good way! The event kicked off with some great talks from current and past ESRC-funded PhD students talking about events and activities they had undertaken to broaden and build the impact of their work. One had established an annual 3-day fashion collaboration event to bring together industry, academia and other interested bodies – an awesome thing for one student to initiate! Then we heard about a past-student’s work concerning the UK police and alcohol use, and the journey she had taken through various experiences and hurdles to achieve impact, which differed from the original plan. I’m going to find & read the published papers which came out of this research, as they sound really interesting.

Then we were asked to think about our research, what drove us to initiate the PhD journey and what we thought our research might contribute. Based on this information we were put into break-out groups which we were told had some common themes. We were challenged in the groups to find the commonalities in our various projects. Once we thought we had found the commonalities, we were asked to consider ways that each research project, and/or researcher, might possess aspects which could help deliver impact across a broader audience (i.e., outside of academia and outside the particular area of research). Easy, right?

Our group consisted of a creative writer embarking upon writing an experimental novel and a parallel play based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, exploring language and the themes of famine, food poverty and anxiety and a relationship between two young people in the midst of this wasteland; a former actor/ dancer, now a filmmaker, challenging the current regimented safety code which governs actors’ behaviour in scenes portraying intimacy, and its effect on creativity; an exploration of the sources for, and ways to increase humanitarian funding, and my own research which explores the downsides of being a high-achiever in a working environment, and their mitigation with a view towards enhancing wellbeing, particularly mental health. You could see it on our faces when we started to discuss our work, what on earth did we have in common? I won’t spoil your experience by giving the game away, but we discovered we had much in common, found exciting ways that we might collaborate to help one another, and had a fantastic opportunity to meet with and delve into intriguing, like minds.

We got talking about books, and what next steps we might take; one wanted to explore internship opportunities, one wanted to investigate how to set-up an industry-academic collaboration event. We have plenty to look forward to, but one thing we all agreed was that we were off to, in the words of one of those books, “Do Epic Sh*t” (Ankur Warikoo). He advises  “a year from now you will wish you had started todayStart today” – we started today, and we will get to the epic stuff via jump-starting our thinking-caps today, early in our PhD journey.

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