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Meet CRIS! We are the Community Research Initiative for Students and we’re here to get you the best experience possible with your dissertation. From generating ideas and developing research topics to partnerships and collaboration, we support you to meet and work with voluntary & community sector organisations and help you know UCL in it its local context.

Don’t just take our word for it – you can read our student stories, taken from current students at different stages of the CRIS journey. You can come to our CRIS: Celebrate & Inspire event on 30 September 2021 where last year’s students and organisations will share their experiences. After we’ve inspired you, there are three options for a CRIS induction session to tell you all you need to know about signing up and getting started! Finally, don’t hesitate to make a quick Q&A appointment with Anne, the CRIS manager.

Why do we do this?

Well, we firmly believe that research needs to be done differently and involve different voices and perspectives – not just the university community. The voluntary & community sector is grounded in social issues, often the same as researchers, but with a totally different perspective and expertise so imagine bringing the perspectives and skills together?!

Our mission is to show you a new way to do research that will make your dissertation and time at UCL more meaningful, societally useful, and enjoyable!

At CRIS, we provide support throughout the year. In term one, it’s all about skilling up and learning! We focus on giving you

  • the foundations and principles behind working in this way. It’s often called community engaged research
  • skills training in active listening, project management, and participatory methods
  • personal consultation appointments with the CRIS manager, Anne
  • access to a digital notice board to browse where organisations post ideas for research

In term two, we focus on networking and connecting you to organisations you’d like to hear more from. We provide

  • a networking event to meet organisations
  • a brokerage service where you can get in touch with an organisation from the digital notice board or one of your own organisations
  • support for initial ideas sharing or knowledge exchange meetings, as we call them.
  • personal consultation appointments with the CRIS manager, Anne.

Finally, in term 3 and over the summer, we provide

  • the paperwork to outline a collaboration
  • Regular check ins with the CRIS manager, Anne
  • Materials to help you reflect on the experience and learn from it, including thinking in terms of your career aspirations

Students tell us working with CRIS makes their dissertation more exciting, gives them a real sense of belonging at UCL and here in London, and new research skills which helps with career choices and their future.

Here's what other students had to say...

CRIS is turning my dissertation dread into research excitement

MSc Public Policy, 2019-20

CRIS helps in the idea-generation stages, helping to make a conceptual topic specific to a real world societal issue 

MSc Smart Cities & Urban Design, 2019-20

I know you’re not my supervisor but I couldn’t do the dissertation I want to do without CRIS

MSc Environment, Politics & Society, 2020-21

Through my collaboration thanks to CRIS, the best thing I think is the idea that you are useful to someone else apart from yourself, apart from your master’s degree. That you are doing something for another organisation and to really matter in the sector. It has been really satisfactory to know that I was doing something useful to myself and I hope to the community organisation or the wider sector too.

MA Cultural Heritage Studies, 2018-19

CRIS was a challenging but transformative experience and valuable no matter what happens during the process of trying to get a collaboration. It is valuable in terms of confidence-building and because it really makes you think about your place in the world and contextualises your degree. And you get to discover organisations that you didn’t even know existed and get to meet people that are working on things that you didn’t even know were out there. Master’s students don’t really have anything just for them and you don’t have the same university experience as an undergraduate so just having the opportunity of CRIS was fantastic and just made me feel more part of UCL, more part of the community. This is how you create ideas - through interactions with other people, they don’t just come to you randomly while you’re sitting in an office. CRIS reinforces the purpose of why we’re all at university. It’s to change the world, to change society in a local context or bigger. I was able to experience UCL in London rather than just experience UCL. CRIS has been so supportive, it’s been absolutely fantastic. So I would definitely encourage students to get involved.

MA Legal & Political Theory, 2018-19

And here's what our community organisations had to say...

The CRIS project is such an invaluable resource and I feel very thankful to be involved. I found the initial meeting valuable, it was great to discuss each other’s interests and needs and also explore what the project could be based on. Our student was so flexible and open to ideas. I learnt more about the UCL side of the process and also how many different parties need to be involved in the project (e.g. ethics, trustees etc!)

Hackney Play Bus, 2018-20

I believe strongly that academic research and on the ground working should interact more. All too often brilliant research is missed by practitioners and practitioners don't have the skills or the time to think about how to evidence their work with families etc. Obviously I had little to contribute in relation to the research methodology etc but when it came to the topic of delivering parenting programmes for parents of adolescents, I do have some experience. I hope that my insight was helpful for the student. Reading the dissertation has spurred us to think about potential new areas of work and helped crystallise what we are hoping to achieve I the future. The collaboration was valuable because it kept us informed around the up to date research in this field. Whilst most practitioners I know highly value academic research all too often it's something we never really get to look at on day to day week by week basis. Participating in this project was definitely beneficial to me as the head of our charity. 

Connected Lives Charity, 2019-20