Mini Research Retreat for ECRs working across Arts, Humanities, and health 

Early career researchers welcomed to 1-day interdisciplinary event in York as part of EC3R scheme: a partnership of University College London and University of Toronto.

26 June 2023

Drawing upon multiple disciplines and building multi-disciplinary teams within research is of increasing interest in multiple fields. But how can interdisciplinary skills be gained when many universities are structured based on siloed departments? And how can networks be created to enable multi-disciplinary working?  

As part of our EC3R programme (Establishing Capacity, Connection and Collaboration for Early Career Researchers), we were delighted to hold a 1-day mini-retreat on Friday 16th June 2023 in York, UK, to explore this topic. 

The day started with a presentation on theorising and interdisciplinary practice from Dr Katey Warran, Research Fellow in the SBRG and Deputy Director of our WHO Collaborating Centre for Arts & Health.  Attendees worked in pairs to explore how to apply concepts from one discipline to another in order to innovate or overcome a problem they’re encountering in their own research. Following this, Saoirse Finn, PhD candidate in the SBRG, led a session exploring social, psychological, biological, and behavioural mechanisms, drawing upon our Multi-Level Leisure Mechanisms Framework. Through theorising mechanisms from across different disciplines, we engaged in group work to apply the framework to explain the potential health impacts of a range of creative engagement. 

Throughout the day, participants also engaged in creative activities of their own, facilitated by Dr Lorna Collins. One activity involved writing the skills that we ‘need’ or would like to learn from others on one post-it note, and then what we could ‘offer’ on another. Participants matched these skills with one another to show how to build strong interdisciplinary teams. Participants were also tasked with introducing themselves to one another using their ‘alter ego’, encouraging creative thinking and reflection on personal identities. 

Dr Laura Wright from the University of Edinburgh led the first of our afternoon sessions with a presentation on participatory research approaches. We explored how to make research more equitable and ethical, including learning two arts-based methods. This involved using visual methods and playdough, exploring how these methods can be used as a form of self-expression. Finally, Dr Suze Berkhout from University of Toronto led our last session of the day which explored the question “where is ‘art’ in health humanities research?” We discussed how different research methods affect how we know and understand the world, thinking about the importance of arts-based methods in health humanities.  

Learn more about the EC3R project by clicking here. To be the first to hear about future activities through the scheme, follow our ECR Twitter account 

For more information about EC3R, contact Katey: