The internet, mobile phones, Twitter. It is said that it has never been easier to communicate.  But is this true?

While the aforementioned have opened up new ways for individuals to communicate with each other, and for companies to communicate directly with consumers, people in large organisations are still finding it hard to communicate internally and haven’t grasped the opportunities these tools could have for their benefit in connecting different people, departments, areas of excellence to encourageand foster collaborations, discussions and new ways of working.
Universities are no different, it’s not that a decision has been made to deliberately avoid internal communication, it’s just the way it is: workloads, diary commitments, the sheer size of the workforce, all these things mitigate against cross department (sometimes same department!) working.

And yet we work in an institution that is all about learning and imparting knowledge to better individuals and the communities we belong to. So it was a pleasure to for me to be involved with the Interactive Cultures team in a ‘away day’ ‘joint meeting’ ‘explanatory discussion’ (call it what you will) with the Centre for Research into Quality team (CRQ). As the name suggests CRQ have extensive experience and knowledge of research in both quantitative and qualitative research techniques and methodologies, and a growing reputation in social research areas, and in particular prison policy vis a vis health, drug/HIV issues and suicide amongst prisoners.

We wanted to meet together as two research teams who have complimentary, but distinct, skills, similar interests and approaches to research, but who work in different fields which we feel could cross over into joint research activities, and to test the theory that by talking to other colleagues we open ourselves up to new ideas, new practices and new and exciting area of work.

It’s difficult to convey the discussion on a blog site without it veering into either a detailed, lengthy, post; or it becoming a set of minutes and action points. There was a lengthy discussion about the philosophies of each research team and the direction and importance the university was taking with research and how informal group meetings such as this could effect emerging policy whilst also agreeing that ‘you also have to just get on and do it’.

It’s my belief that just having the opportunity to meet with colleagues from different faculties is both informative and instructive, and both teams left the meeting imbued with strengthening
the relationship and committed to meeting again soon so we would not lose the momentum of the day.

We’ve already committed to working together on a series of seminars. Dave Kane from CRQ recently attended a meeting in Manchester between the Interactive Cultures team and Fat Northerner records planning a substansive piece of research to see if it is an area of work he would want to be involved in – it is!

Communication – it has it’s uses.

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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