We live in an age of metrics and measurement. We are being pressured to produce more, to assess more, to report more. In this environment we need to take stock and remember what it is to be a university, and what it is to be our University. The founding VC, Geoffrey Templeman, envisaged Kent as a community of scholars, working across disciplinary boundaries to find answers to diverse and complex challenges.

We want to re-establish this vision.

Radical and disruptive

‘Signature Research Themes’ are how we hope to rekindle the idea of a creative, constructive university. We want to build communities of strength, within which we can spark and engage, critique or concur, comment, clash and collaborate.

It is vital that these Signature Research Themes are identified collectively through conversation, exchange and sharing ideas. We hope to uncover themes that are forward looking, dynamic, with the potential to build on our record of innovative, socially aware, radical and disruptive research. They will span the faculties, have an international profile, attract external income, engage and create impact.

At a time of league tables and rankings, of assessments and reviews, we want to create a haven for conscious questioning and dangerous ideas. We want Kent to think differently. We want to establish strong and active communities around which our research can coalesce and once again, in Templeman’s words, ‘learn from each other…in a community where the people of the various disciplines mix up.’

Next steps

  • Spring Term: members of the development group (see membership, below) will be visiting schools, talking to researchers, academics and professional service staff about the vision and plans for the signature themes. This is a bottom-up approach, and they are seeking thoughts, questions and ideas from all of those in the schools.
  • 1 March 2019: call for expressions of interest opens.
  • 9 May 2019: closing date for expressions of interest.
  • 24 May 2019: contact applicants, with feedback as appropriate. Those involved in successful bids will be invited to the next stage.
  • 19-21 June 2019: externally facilitated workshops to identify synergies and complementarities between the outline themes. Once a set of possible themes have been identified, those leading them will be invited to submit a full proposal.
  • 30 Sept 2019: deadline for submission of full proposals.

Call for expressions of interest

The call for expressions of interest is now open. We are only seeking very basic details at this stage. These outlines are part of a wider process of identifying the themes, which will include sandpits in June.

The form is available here (Word). It includes guidelines for completing it, including the criteria against which the expressions of interest will be assessed.

The deadline for EoIs is 9 May at 5pm. Completed forms should be submitted to themes@kent.ac.uk

Sharing ideas and disciplinary expertise

If you have an idea for a theme and want to open it up for others to join, or you have expertise that may be useful to a developing theme, you can share these on our virtual pin board. Click the plus sign in the bottom right hand corner to add comments, thoughts or ideas.

The development group

In time this group may change, but it is important to start the conversations and get the ball rolling. The group currently consists of:

More information

To find out more about the signature research themes, or the process by which they’ll be developed, please email themes@kent.ac.uk.

Photo by Julius Drost on Unsplash