The ‘Afterlife of Heritage Research’ Skills Training Project (March 2012 – November 2013; funded by the AHRC and led by the Institute for Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester) supported more than fifty research students and early career researchers (ECRs) in developing skills, capacity and profiles for professional careers in the heritage sector. The project’s tailored training provision (including skills workshops, collaborative public engagement projects, work placements in cultural institutions and industrial mentoring) assisted students and ECRs in identifying, understanding and ‘translating’ the benefits of their heritage research in ‘real-life’ public, professional and business contexts.
The training programme produced four self-completion training guides that were informed by the interaction between partners and the students’ and ECRs’ experiences in collaborating with cultural organisations and professionals. The guides as well as reflective blog posts and short documentary films aim to: assist humanities research students and ECRs in exploring how public engagement and research placements can benefit them, their research, and the relevance of their research to non-expert audiences; help students and ERCs think creatively about possible business or enterprise prospects of their research; contribute to the training provision offered by Researcher Development teams at UK Universities; and enable cultural organisations to design and run.
The training programme included three strands:
A training programme that aimed to develop PGRs’ and ECRs’ skills in understanding the public impact of their research and how they can turn their research into a public output.
Public engagement workshops and collaborative projects with cultural professionals allowed students to articulate the impact of their research to a wider public and, indeed, ‘translate’ it into specific audience-oriented outputs. Students/ECRs from around the UK and heritage professionals jointly explored possibilities of co-producing learning programmes, events, performances or digital applications that drew on the students’/ECRs’ research. This part of the training was oversubscribed and, although we were set out to support 6 public engagement collaborations between students/ECRs and cultural organisations, in the end we were able to support 16 such projects.
Gain professional experience in the arts, cultural and heritage sector by participating in a placement scheme.
Research placements in cultural institutions in the North West allowed students/ECRs understand the priorities and practices of organisations and gain experience of the range and requirements of entry routes into heritage professions. They also helped them develop further their own understanding of the relevance and impact of their research. The programme also supported cultural organisations in understanding the scope and aims of research placments and getting experience in designing, running and sustaining high-quality employment opportunities for heritage graduates.
Explore how to turn your research into a business or social enterprise and to be mentored and guided by experts in that area
An industrial mentoring programme gave students/ECRs an opportunity to be trained by the Manchester Enterprise Centre and coached by experienced industrial mentors on how to prepare for a self-employed career in the heritage sector, build confidence and make their first steps in developing business, freelancing and consultancy profiles, capacity and portfolios.