Home Book editor Meet the Rebel Seekers Who Embrace Rap, Magic and Circus | To research

Meet the Rebel Seekers Who Embrace Rap, Magic and Circus | To research


Hip-hop poetry, magic and circus acts should be embraced by academics to make their work more effective and help them spread their findings to a wider audience, say researchers calling for a ‘rebellion’ against traditional forms of production.

The group, which includes academics from the UK, Europe and Australia, is publishing a book that explains how researchers can “rise up and rebel” against higher education conventions that make decision-making speaking at academic conferences and publishing articles in scholarly journals the primary methods of disseminating research.

Case studies from the book – Doing Rebellious Research in and Beyond the Academy, which will be launched on Monday – include a University of Cambridge researcher who created podcasts to collect information on how students have been affected by Covid and released a results album on Spotify. Slam poetry recitals have also been used by academics to discuss young people’s experiences of social injustice, and explosive circus acts have been used to explore risk-taking and collaboration.

Professor Pamela Burnard, one of the book’s co-editors, said there was an urgent need for scholars to communicate more clearly and “be more engaging, more fascinating and more impactful”, or risk being drowned out by the cacophony modern media. .

“I have colleagues who don’t come to research seminars, because they just want to sit in their research silo and do what they’ve always done; they didn’t have to go out into the real world to solve real problems,” Burnard said.

“Actually, it’s not just about reaching a wider group and selling more copies. It is about proposing new knowledge and new ways of knowing and, in doing so, really relating to new solutions to societal problems. Why can’t academics talk to people who don’t have a degree? »

Burnard mentions one of the book’s case studies, rap artist and educator Breis, who leads workshops on creating verse and improving literacy skills through hip-hop.

“Through the art of rap and movement, I was able to engage with hard to reach students. I got them to create raps around different topics,” Breis writes. This has led to students producing anthologies, music videos and performances that have been a “huge hit” with children as well as their teachers and parents.

Another example in the book is the Academy of Magic and Science, created by staff from the University of Cambridge and the Judge Business School. His magic shows introduce audiences to connections between various subjects such as engineering and psychology, and aim to “cause curiosity and surprise” when presenting research.

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Similarly, Stockholm University of the Arts uses its circus department to test human capabilities and self-control, and to study teamwork in high-risk environments.

Simone Eringfeld, from the University of Cambridge, said she was looking for non-traditional ways to present her research as she gathered evidence from students about their experiences of higher education during the Covid pandemic.

Eringfeld created a podcast that attracted listeners and guests, then used their data and testimonies in poetry that she set to music and released as an album on Spotify, culminating in a college tour.

“I wanted to reach audiences within and beyond academia. And by podcasting and with the album that I produced, I was able to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise read newspaper articles,” Eringfeld said.

“The tracks on the album, for example, were played by the BBC and places like that. I suddenly have a lot of people who are interested in this work. They just don’t read a newspaper article. C This is a very limited way of publishing research results, as only academic colleagues read them, and this project was intended for a much wider audience.

“I had collected all these interviews, and people had spoken about their feelings, their experiences during the pandemic – often in very emotional conversations. But when you transcribe it into written text, you lose a lot of the knowledge that’s built into how we use our voices.

“If you’ve just read something, you can’t hear how someone pronounces those words, if they’re hesitant, if they’re quiet, if they’re angry, if they’re joking – you miss a lot of those layers.

Research alternatives currently in action

  • “Research drabbling” is a technique used by Draw (Departing Radically in Academic Writing) in Australia, where postgraduate students summarize their thesis in 100 stream-of-consciousness words. Students say it helps them make their work “more human” and focus on why they wanted to do the research in the first place.

  • Helen Johnson, a psychologist at the Center for Arts and Wellbeing at the University of Brighton, uses slam poetry and spoken word art to help marginalized young people speak openly about their experience of social injustice. She says poetry can be used to challenge established notions “of what research and knowledge look like.”

  • The Cambridge Academy of Magic and Science is supported by the International Federation of Magical Societies. It aims to “innovate popular science” by using magic as a springboard to learn everything from chemistry and electronics to physiology and psychology, and helping people discover the scientific principles behind perceptions and biases. .

  • Finland’s Hallå Steam program introduces students to French mathematician Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis and Swedish scientist Anders Celsius through a “performative rethinking of history, science, art, language and education” . It explores the discoveries that resulted from their 18th century expedition to Lapland, including Celsius’s experiments for a new thermometer and Maupertuis’ efforts to prove the shape of the Earth.