Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Supply and demand
Management guru Peter Drucker once wrote, if you think training is expensive, try ignorance.
The UK is in danger of finding out the truth of this statement - with RCUK now focusing so heavily on interdisciplinary investments, and giving out multi-million pound grants in these areas, there is a need to give greater support to the people who will be expected to carry out this research. Interdisciplinary research requires a very different range of skills from the normal discipline-based academic model but most researchers receive no training in these skills.
The success of the recent masterclass ‘Leadership Training for Interdisciplinary Environmental Initiatives’ highlighted this gap in the training market.
The course attracted senior researchers from right across the UK, and from a wide range of disciplines which suggests there is a genuine need for this type of instruction. Indeed, participants themselves bemoaned the lack of training opportunities currently offered to those leading, or about to lead, interdisciplinary investments.
The Innogen team behind the Interdisciplinary Masterclasses has now successfully developed a unique format. It incorporates novel training activities (this time they included a scenario-based training exercise in the form of a play), and provides useful networking opportunities with others in the same ID boat.
The ESRC grant that enabled the team to pilot the interdisciplinary Masterclass model led to invitations to run further training sessions across the UK and it is clear there is still an unmet demand for this sort of capacity building at all levels - postgrad, postdoc, mid career and for those who have interdisciplinary research leadership thrust upon them.