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On a quiet day before the start of term, the Jeremy Bentham Room is bustling. Not with students - most of whom are still on their summer holidays – but with academics, admin staff, and a whole host of guests from local charities and community groups. The aim of this event? To bring academics and community organisations together, in order to stimulate some exciting discussions about innovative and community-focused research projects.

For many Masters students at UCL, particularly in the Social Sciences and Humanities, it is important not only to produce cutting-edge research, but also to ensure that this research is relevant for tackling real-world issues. This is where CRIS – the Community Research Initiative for Students – comes in! CRIS pairs up socially-conscious Masters students with community organisations who work on issues that the students are interested in, in order to produce exciting, innovative research that has real relevance for local people and projects. After a small but successful trial period last year, CRIS has set its sights on working with more students and more organisations in 2019-20.

Today’s event represented the first stage of getting students involved with CRIS. The key theme was dialogue: bringing academics and community organisations together to open up conversations about their common interests, and maybe even think about how these interests could be incorporated into research. Organisations from right across the community – from those that engage with schoolchildren, to older people, to migrant workers – came along to join in the discussions, and meet academics from across UCL who share their passion for tackling big issues at local levels.

Throughout the session, interactivity was the central focus, with participants moving around the room, engaging in lively, small-group discussions. Post-it notes of common themes were stuck up on the walls, and even lunchtime proved an exciting opportunity to continue the conversations that had been started earlier on.

Amazingly, 14 research study outlines were created between pairs of academics and organisations. These will be offered to incoming PGT students. So, if you’re a community-oriented Masters student who wants to make a real difference to local people and projects, why not try getting involved with CRIS this year?

Written by Josephine Mizen, UCL Photojournalist.


Community Research Initiative for Students