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Research & Innovation

As a specialist arts university, Arts University Plymouth’s research, innovation and knowledge exchange activity reflects and underpins our vision, ethos, purpose and values. As a community of practice-led artists and leaders we are focused on academic and innovation opportunities that respond to the social, cultural and economic needs of Plymouth, the South West region, and the wider UK creative economy.

Arts University Plymouth’s research, innovation and knowledge exchange ambitions are supported through our Research Engagement and Impact Strategy 2018-2023, and the Knowledge Exchange Action Plan whose principle objectives are:

Research

  • develop distinctive research in creative learning and practice;
  • build social capital, cultural leadership and economic impact in Plymouth and our wider region; foster strategic partnerships to grow influence and visibility of our work.

Knowledge Exchange

  • seek impactful partners, from both business and community
  • develop relational and reciprocal relationships, not just transactional
  • support and grow AUP’s talent
  • innovate with a focus on New & Creative Technologies/Immersive Futures (Enhancing AUP USP/Industry Partners)
  • be adaptive, transformative and resilient
  • advocate ideation, problem solving and being human
  • respond to our social and civic responsibility
  • focus on internationalisation
Incredible projects at Arts University Plymouth [have been] made possible by special Knowledge Exchange funding for smaller universities from Research England - wonderful to see real-world challenges addressed with creativity.
Dana Gamble, Policy Manager for Places and Knowledge Exchange, GuildHE
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Fulgur launches new anthology 'Visions of Enchantment' at Tavistock Place, co-edited by the university's Head of Academic Research, Judith Noble.

Arts University Plymouth cultivates a research, innovation and knowledge exchange environment that reflects and supports the educational character of the university by fostering close links between research, innovation and pedagogy, professional practice, partnerships and knowledge diffusion.

Arts University Plymouth drives the progressive vision of ‘thinking through making’ that radiates through all our communities of practice: as artists, makers, designers and creative media producers. For us, it denotes the fundamental importance of the practitioner’s relationship to, and understanding of, materials, media, tools and processes relating to their area of practice-based enquiry.

Accordingly, our philosophy for research focuses upon creative making and its contexts (studio, workshop, gallery, digital realm and beyond) as fertile sites of scholarship, knowledge generation and exchange, that also promote efforts to build resilient communities of practice.

This specialist institution has received such KE funds for the first time, allowing it to be more strategic. This round up demonstrates what can be achieved when modest sums are distributed to diverse institutions and regions.
Rachel Persad, Policy Manager for Research & Innovation, Guild HE
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Making Futures, a research platform exploring contemporary craft, invites international thought-leaders and creatives to interrogate 21st-century maker movements.

The specialist, professional art, design and media focus of Arts University Plymouth's academic portfolio is central to its higher education identity and ethos and is the determining factor in shaping its definition of research and innovation.

Arts University Plymouth adheres to the definition of research used by the Research Excellence Framework, UK (REF 2021).

"[R]esearch is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared. It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction."

Arts University Plymouth works to the UK Government's definition of innovation: "The creation and application of new knowledge to improve the world”. We have adopted the Higher Education and Research Act 2017’s definition of knowledge exchange as:

"A process or other activity by which knowledge is exchanged where:

  • the knowledge is in, or in connection with, science, technology, humanities or new ideas (as the case may be), and

  • the exchange contributes, or is likely to contribute, (whether directly or indirectly) to an economic or social benefit in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

At a practical level, this means that an activity must involve an external partner and/or be focussed on entrepreneurship and/or starting up a new company.”

Making Futures 2017

Making Futures 2017

The university also accepts that art and design research is often concerned with particulars, is qualitative and holistic in its expression, and can have a worth or impact that at times cannot be adequately captured through metrics-based indices (features that are typically contained in descriptors such as ‘experiential’, ‘embodied’, ‘tacit’, ‘situational’, and ‘procedural’). For these reasons the university definition of research is inclusive of activities whose primary outputs can sometimes consist of material artefacts, audio constructions, creative writing forms, exhibitions, and the production of ephemeral and time-based performances and related phenomena. The university has developed a series of benchmarks for staff research which recognises this inclusive definition.

The university also recognises that research in art and design forms an integral part of the creative process, and will therefore at times interpret the title of ‘artist’ or ‘designer’ as synonymous with ‘researcher’ or ‘Principal Investigator’. In support of this direction, the university will judiciously encourage and support links between research and professional practice, and research and pedagogy.

Arts University Plymouth undertakes Research and Scholarship at regional, national and international levels. The sections below provide a brief synopsis of notable research projects supported by or led by staff and students of the university.

Making Futures is a research platform exploring contemporary craft and maker movements as ‘change agents’ in 21st-century society.

Convinced of the transformative potential of small-scale making and its capacity to contribute to new progressive futures, Making Futures seeks to situate these material cultures at the centre of the critical issue facing global consumer society: how we move beyond the reductive instrumentalism of ‘homo economicus’ and modes of mass consumption that are destructive of human and non-human natures.

For more information please visit our Research Groups page or contact Head of Research, Judith Noble.

Making Learning is a crucible for open inquiry through arts education, that places making at the gravitational centre of learning. Creative learning and social justice are the double helix of our DNA. This cross-disciplinary conversation assembles the most progressive thinkers and practitioners in creative education across the full learning continuum.

Making Learning is also a biennial symposium convening an international community of expertise and practice in creative pedagogy throughout the full continuum of learning, from early years education to Masters level, research and professional development.

For more information on Making Learning, please visit our Research Groups page or contact our Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Stephen Felmingham.

The Memory, Site and Artefact research group focuses on cultural discourses and contemporary articulations of collective and personal memory, through the investigation of image and object, as well as textual, performative and interventionist practices. Shared research interests include themes such as globalisation, borders, migration, decolonisation, archives and materiality.

For more information please visit our Research Groups page or contact Memory, Site and Artefact Research Group Convenors, Mohini Chandra and Steven Paige.