Multidisciplinary education for a low-carbon society. Douglas Halliday, Durham University, UK

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1 Multidisciplinary education for a low-carbon society Douglas Halliday, Durham University, UK

2 The City of Durham

3 Overview Durham University Durham Energy Institute (DEI) founded 2009 Interdisciplinary research Energy, Science and Society DEI Researcher support framework: Masters, PhD, Researchers Challenges and successes: Making interdisciplinarity work Conclusions: Indicators of success How to make a start

4 Durham Energy Institute Energy, Science and Society multidisciplinary ethos to energy-related research questions, in UK: grand challenges.. decarbonising energy, through focussing on the central role of society on energy technologies, renewables, and the continued but cleaner use of fossil fuels. Provides network ~200 academic staff across all faculties Early career researcher training framework: MSc Energy & Society, MSc New & Renewable Energy (40 students) Energy Centre for Doctoral Training (60 PhD students) Support for early career postdoctoral researchers Support for this multidisciplinary approach from Industrial Advisory Board what the energy industry needs

5 Energy Challenges: Provides Strong Focus We face significant global challenges in the energy domain: Future energy security Creating sustainable low-carbon energy systems Developing affordable energy services Reducing the risks associated with new energy technologies This requires interdisciplinary knowledge and collaboration between academia, industry, government and society. The objective of the Durham Energy Institute is to work with its partners at the forefront of creating this new knowledge. Science Social Science Different way of looking at energy + = Unlocking the Research Synergies

6 DEI Early Career Researcher Training Framework Major strength of DEI is early career researcher training Multidisciplinary environment Provides different perspectives, methodologies Masters MSc in Energy and Society (Anthropology) MSc in New and Renewable Energy (Engineering) Doctoral Research Multidisciplinary Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy (CDT) Support for early career researchers

7 Durham University Structures University has traditional faculty structure Most PhD training based in departments or faculties discipline specific (focussed) Energy Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) is Multidisciplinary across all faculties provides: Multidisciplinary Environment to supplement PhD experience a home

8 MSc Energy and Society Drawing on Engineering, Business school, Anthropology Socio-technical network approach International focus: UK, Portugal, India, Greece, USA, China Core Modules Energy Context and Challenges (Core Module) Energy Society and Practices (Core Module) Energy in Practice (Field Study) Dissertation Choice of 3 Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience Renewable Energy and the Environment Key issues in Sociocultural Theory Statistical Analysis in Anthropology Energy Markets and Risk Computational Methods for Social Sciences Law of Oil Contracts Modules offered as Short courses

9 Multidisciplinary CDT in Energy Since 2009, Admitted 62 PhDs: Anthropology Biological and Biomedical Sciences Chemistry Durham Business School Earth Sciences Engineering and Computing Sciences Geography Mathematical Sciences Physics UK s only Multidisciplinary Energy CDT with focus on Energy, Science and Society

10 Energy CDT Mission Aim The CDT will be world leading in generating knowledge at the interface between energy technology and its implementation in society. Vision The CDT will foster: strong interdisciplinary ethos in energy research researchers who can realise the UK s low carbon future continuing reputation as an internationally leading centre effective technical and social responses to energy issues public debate on technical, societal and policy issues in energy interdisciplinary research with national and international impact links between Science and Society How do you achieve this? Support for PhD candidates?

11 Disciplinary differences in approach? Constructing new /original knowledge (research) that produces original approaches: Science Positivist approach (informed enquiry) Role of investigator less important, results independent of investigator Social Science Constructivist approach Role of investigator more prominent, results can vary depending on views, opinions of researcher often seen as important Bridging the gap? Requires a focus or common ground: Energy can provide this focus

12 Benefits/challenges for PhD candidates Develop the behaviour of experienced and successful researchers? Bringing together candidates into multidisciplinary environment from different fields encourages working together and views from different perspectives Structured programme of activities very different from PhD Working in multidisciplinary teams is more like the workplace, therefore, good professional training Avoid the narrow specialisation that some doctoral candidate have knowing a lot about small field (breadth vs. depth) Candidates learn to be autonomous and very independent as they are often the ones doing the bringing together

13 Purpose of research training? Place in PhD? Role of supervisor? Best research is done by the best researchers How do you train the best researchers? Knowledge (Supervisors?) Behaviours (Multidisciplinary CDT) Researchers identify behaviours from peers and leaders Training helps develop effective behaviours A good environment helps with success (Energy CDT) Researchers need training and mentoring with good role models, and a suitable environment Training challenges some of paradigms of academia What are added benefits of structure?

14 Multidisciplinary research environment Knowledge constructed into different disciplines with different paradigms New approaches must provide: Broader range of knowledge and professional skills Ability to recognise and see issues from multiple perspectives Safe spaces to engage in new ways, relationships, trust, respect all essential Support to enable synthesis of ideas into new intellectual frameworks Breadth and Depth the T shaped researcher Maintain high quality, measured primarily by depth/ subject expertise? Excellent role models and facilitators permits new approaches

15 What we have discovered over 7 years Good candidates like interdisciplinary work provides wider audience for their work, providing additional validation of themselves and their work Like being interconnected across several disciplines esteem A respectful community of scholars is essential takes time. Relationships and respect are vital Need accessible cognate wide ranging theme to reduce barriers (disciplinary, structural, academic tribes ) provided by Energy Language and communication are more important and more difficult than concepts Need to be open minded and curious the Why question Need to love research as a concept rather than the topic or answer willing to engage in other ways of thinking Interdisciplinarity reveals hidden layers of complexity STEM find it more difficult to recognise role of people and human factors

16 Possible requirements for success A strong focus e.g. energy Candidates who are prepared to have a go and be involved A safe well-structured learning environment, including introductions to different research approaches Creating a distinct and identifiable cohort learn together Empowering doctoral candidates to take new and different approaches rich and varied programme activities Learning from others (Both supervisors and candidates) Developing a shared understanding and new language What is the language of interdisciplinarity? The language of everyone? Develop a sense of being stewards of a new discipline - Energy

17 Funded by Thank you for your attention

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