Skills in Action – presenting Creative Exchange Superheroes

24th Nov 2014

A core strand of the work we do at Creative Exchange is looking how knowledge exchange can be incorporated into the training of doctoral students and early career researchers.

So it was with great pleasure that we (Simon and Naomi) accepted an invitation to represent CX at an event designed for exactly this purpose as part of the Skills in Action project.

Skills in Action, led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, is a collaborative multi-institution early career researcher programme, exploring and creating new understandings of knowledge exchange through a series of skills development events.

On the 12th and 13th of November, the Skills in Action festival was held in Edinburgh.  Participants, who included doctoral students and early career researchers, enjoyed a variety of presentations and workshops around the topic of knowledge exchange.

In a workshop on the second day, we introduced the concept of creative exchange as the natural progression of knowledge exchange – where knowledge is not just exchanged in a two-way, zero sum swap, but where new knowledge is created collaboratively and the result is something greater than the sum of the parts. 

Using a tool developed by the Ideas for Impact project at Lancaster University, we asked participants to envisage the participants in KE collaborations (early career researchers, senior academics, SME managers and third sector representatives) as superheroes, but not before first considering the normal, everyday ‘Clark Kent’ set of skills, tools and weaknesses that they possess.  These were then ‘supercharged’ to create the superhero alter-ego.

After each hero was presented to the group, we discussed how building a team could have its tensions, but ultimately result in stronger results.  We gave some examples from Creative Exchange projects of some of the issues and benefits from knowledge exchange collaborations.

By taking part in these kinds of events we hope that the work we are doing can inspire early career researchers to develop skills for knowledge exchange, and reinforce how important these are for the training of new researchers in modern academia who will find benefits and impact from working with outside collaborators.