Posted on Thursday 20th February 2014
The notion of ‘engaged scholarship’ has become popular as a means of pursuing research that is relevant as well as rigorous. But what does the term actually mean? How can the approach be implemented? What difference does it make, and to whom?
Academics will have been exercised by such questions in their quest to demonstrate ‘impact’ in the recent Research Excellence Framework exercise. Practitioners too have an interest in such issues as they look for knowledge and insights that might help them address their day-to-day concerns. ‘Engaged scholarship’ is a conscious attempt to link interests of academics and practitioners; but the principles and practice that inform such an approach are far from clear.
The Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) and the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) are joining forces to debate this issue in a special workshop that examines the challenges of engaged scholarship and provides some examples of it in action. The challenge is provided by Professor Paul Edwards, who closely scrutinises the meaning and implications of the approach. Paul tackles simple assumptions of the benefits and supposed beneficiaries of ‘engaged’ research. He demonstrates the value of asking fundamental questions about whose interests are served by research.
Two concrete examples of research-in-practice follow Paul’s ground-clearing exercise. Professor Kiran Trehan and I explain the research-based origins of the Enterprise and Diversity Alliance, which was established by CREME in 2010. The EDA is a knowledge-exchange network dedicated to supporting minority-owned businesses. It comprises corporations, banks, professional associations and academics that share knowledge and take action to encourage diversity and entrepreneurship. We explain how the fruits of social science research are brought to bear on the ‘real world’ issue of supporting minority entrepreneurs.
Our final contributor, Professor Mark Hart, personifies engaged scholarship. Mark’s research on growth firms has had a major influence on small firm policy debates. He is also very active in regional policy circles, particularly in discussions with Local Enterprise Partnerships. Mark outlines his distinctive approach to working with practitioners.
We are anticipating a lively debate too from an audience comprising researchers and practitioners from a variety of sectors.
Professor Monder Ram
 Businesses run by ethnic minorities, women and young people.
If you are interested in attending this workshop, you can find out further details and register here.