Online training


Online training
BYO computer, your house, your address


13 May 2020


2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

ONLINE Working Beyond Disciplines – MA Social Science Research Students

Please note this is an online training session incorporating some self directed study and an interactive Pathway session. You will need to indicate which Pathway your research is aligned to in order to receive the correct link for the interactive session (booking link at bottom of page).

The Working Beyond Disciplines training day introduces students to the ‘grand challenges’ within the thematic fields of their Interdisciplinary Training Pathway, and highlights the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to research. It prepares students for the cutting edge debates they will encounter at doctoral level.

It is compulsory for all ESRC funded MA students registered in September 2019, to attend this training day. It is also compulsory for non-ESRC funded MA students registered on the common framework WRDTP MA Social Research programme.


Panel discussion

Students are asked to view last years Working Beyond Disciplines panel discussion which can be found by logging in to the VIRE and clicking the following link (to access this link you will first need to log in to the VIRE. VIRE login instructions can be found here).

This video can be viewed at any time before the afternoon Pathway session on May 13th.

Students are asked to formulate questions regarding the theme of ‘climate emergency’ as related both to the current global situation and their own research if applicable. These questions will then form part of the afternoon interactive Pathway sessions.

Please also view the video from Professor Charlie Burns, Director of the WRDTP, on the benefits of interdisciplinary research which can be found here.

Afternoon interactive Pathway sessions

When you register your attendance at this event you will be asked to choose an interdisciplinary Pathway which most closely relates to your research. One you have chosen your Pathway you will be sent a link to the relevant Blackboard collaborate session which you can use to access the afternoon interactive Pathway sessions. Each Pathway is offering a slightly different programme for the afternoon, and you may be asked to do some preparatory reading. Please see below the plan for each Pathway session.

Please note: unless otherwise stated Pathway sessions will be running from 2.00pm until approx 4.00pm

This event will be led by Professor Rachel Holmes (MMU) and Dr Louise Tracey (UoY). It will take place on-line and interactively and last approximately two hours.

Additional resources to view:

The ECY pathway session will focus on discussion of:

  • What disciplines and methodologies they found most interesting/useful in terms of addressing the Climate Emergency? Why?
  • What questions from an ECY perspective would be useful in terms of looking at the Climate Emergency? How do they link into other Grand Challenges within ECY?
  • What other disciplines would be useful in helping to answer those questions? What challenges would also exist?
  • What links to the keynote discussion can participants make with their own research interests and methodologies?

In attempting to answer these questions we will facilitate a mixture of moderator-led discussion and break out groups to facilitate increased interaction and exchange of ideas. By the end of the session we would anticipate students having:

  • Explored the interlinking of research from different disciplines and the ways they can inform future research
  • Considered the challenges and opportunities presented by an interdisciplinary approach
  • Extended their knowledge about different possible research methodologies and how these may benefit future research
  • Thought about possible links with their own research strengths and research interests. Could your current experience contribute to moving the current research forwards? Or change it?
  • Or have you got different concerns and interests?

Cities, Environment and Liveability Pathway – The Usable Urban Past?

An interdisciplinary perspective is fundamental to any understanding of the contemporary city, its relations, processes, environment and governance. This session seeks to place historical perspectives at the centre. It will elaborate on what a historical sensitivity might mean for your own research, which might range from the uptake of historical methods (e.g. archival research), to placing your research topic within its wider historical context, to uncovering historical precedents and continuities.

An historical perspective is often marginalised or ignored within some research fields resulting in partial understandings at best. Since the 1970s the social sciences in general have undergone a “retreat into the present” which stands in marked contrast to the work of the early social science pioneers such as Marx, Weber and Durkheim – all of whom looked to the past in understanding their own societies.

The aim of the session is to raise awareness of the relevance of history, and get us thinking how a longer-term perspective might be integrated into research projects that often start out from a very different point. This will include thinking about how experiences of Covid-19 can be set into historical context and how that helps us think about urban issues of today and the future .

Key questions for you to consider prior to this session include:

  • What can a longer-term perspective bring to the study of cities and their environments?
  • What is wrong with a present-centred perspective? What are the pitfalls?
  • How might history be incorporated into your own dissertation or research?
  • Is a “retreat into the present” apparent in your subject/topic/discipline area?
  • How does the Impact agenda influence historical sensitivity within the social sciences?

This session builds on the lead theme of disciplinary/interdisciplinary work in considering how an engagement with the past can potentially be used to re-shape and reformulate our research.


14:00-14.20 Introduction and Reflections on morning session (Milena Buchs)

14.20-14.50 History Matters (Thomas Biskup)

14.50-15.00 Wrap up and Group Discussion on useful support/activities CEL can provide in current situation.


Matt Bishop (CDD), Liam Clegg (CDD), Sara De Jong (SCJ), Edward Newman (SCJ)

  1. Introduction to the pathways and grand challenges.
  2. Climate change from the perspective of CDD/SCJ.

In light of the broad challenges embraced within the CDD and SCJ pathways, what themes related to civil society, development, democracy, security, conflict and justice can be linked to climate change and the climate emergency? Does climate change compel us to re-think these themes? How does climate change undermine security – both from a traditional security perspective, and from the point of view of human
security? Has the securitization of climate change been effective in terms of generating political action and resources to address the challenge? Does climate change cause violent conflict? What are the issues raised by ‘Climate Justice’? Has the mobilization of civil society and protest groups – such as ‘extinction rebellion’ – posed a challenge to formal democratic values and processes? Can the climate emergency be reversed through liberal democratic processes?

3. Climate change and inter-disciplinarity.

What are your reflections on the panel discussion videos? In what ways does climate change generate inter/multi-disciplinary research challenges? What do you think is the record of social scientists engaging with natural scientists? What are the difficulties? Across the social sciences, where do you see research having the greatest impact upon national (UK) and international policy debates related to climate change?

4. Your projects.

How do the added value and challenges of inter-disciplinarity relate to your project? Have your research ideas evolved in light of discussions about inter-disciplinarity?

The WHC afternoon pathway session will engage with the global challenge of Climate Emergency as it relates to health and wellbeing. We will first draw on broader material from the 2019 WRDTP panel discussion, together with resources from the World Health Organisation and the Lancet Countdown, to debate and discuss this topic. Next, we will take the case study of the Yorkshire floods of 2007 to think more about interdisciplinary contributions to understanding and mitigating the short and long term impacts of climate-related events.

The WHC afternoon pathway session will involve the following activities.

  • Preparatory tasks to be completed by students ahead of the session (two tasks, up to 5 hours private study time including the time needed to watch the panel discussion)
  • Group discussion prompted by the questions and comments students have formulated in response to the panel discussion (20 minutes)
  • Presentation on the UK floods of 2007 – understanding health impacts from multiple perspectives (20 minutes)
  • Small group work based around the flood case study activity. (50 minutes – includes time for comfort break)
  • Group feedback and discussion based around the flood case study activity (30 minutes)
  • Take away task / reflection

Preparatory Task 1: Climate Emergency and Health (3 hours)

In common with all other pathway students, watch the recording of last year’s panel discussion on
climate change. Students should also visit the WHO webpages on climate change and health and the Lancet Countdown pages:

At a minimum, students should read the fact sheet and watch the video at the links below:

Students should formulate questions and comments regarding the theme of ‘climate emergency’ as related to the current global health and wellbeing situation and their own research if applicable. These questions and comments should be posted on this google document by Tuesday 12th May 1pm.

Preparatory Task 2: Flooding and Health – a case study (2 hours)

Students are asked to view the following 6 minute video from a project funded by ESRC, EPSRC and the Environment Agency – Flood, vulnerability and urban resilience: A real-time study of local recovery following the floods of June 2007 in Hull (Lancaster University). This is a great example of an interdisciplinary project that has had significant impact.

Task: (Spend up to 30 minutes working on this)

The Leader of a local council has asked you to be involved in an assessment of the well-being, health and community implications of a recent serious flood and its aftermath. The Leader wants to develop recommendations for action to be shared with members of the public and agencies. Thinking from your own disciplinary perspective and your own set of knowledge, skills and experience:

  • What research questions you would be keen to address?
  • What type of information would you want to gather, about what and how?

Thinking about gaining a comprehensive understanding of the implications of the flood for well-being and health and sharing this effectively with the public and professionals:

  • What other research questions/ issues would be important to address?
  • Who would need to be part of the team to address these issues? (What disciplines, professions, skills, attributes, knowledge and experience would be needed?)

Prepare to bring your ideas to discuss in a small group online.

Optional reading:

Pitt Review, 2008,

Background reading

The following paper provides a data management focus on weather data in the context of the financialisation of climate change and provides an interesting interdisciplinary take on climate change research:

Bates J & Goodale P (2017) Making Data Flow for the Climate Risk Market. Television and
New Media, 18(8), 753-768.  View this article in WRRO

The following paper provides examples of how management research addresses societal grand challenges and sustainable development goals, as well as a framework for addressing these:

George, G. Howard-Grenville, J. Joshi, A. & Tihanyi, L. Understanding and tackling societal grand challenges through management research. (2016). Academy of Management Journal. 59, (6), 1880-1895. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School of Business. Available at:

Please take some time to read them prior to the session and to reflect upon the significance of their interdisciplinary perspective.

Part 1 – To be completed prior to the session:

In the following Google doc briefly outline your future research plans in terms of what you envisage the research will be, why you are interested in doing it, and how you think you should be doing it. You should complete this by the 11th May.

Prior to the session, please read all the contributions to the document and reflect upon the potential for interdisciplinarity for your own research.

Part 2 – During the session we will:

  1. Discuss the lessons taken from the research by Bates and Goodale:
  2. Discuss how interdisciplinarity might form part of your future research plans;
  3. Reflect on the lessons taken from your group’s discussion.

Please note that this training forms part of a compulsory Working Beyond Disciplines module within the MA Social Sciences Research degree. If you are required to attend this module in order to complete your degree, but are unable to do so due to caring responsibilities or other COVID-19 related circumstances please contact your institution’s MA module lead.