Communities of Common Interest
In the second phase of Eastern Arc we are focusing on four broad themes in which our three universities have clear strengths:
- Health systems, social care and wellbeing
- Human rights, equality and conflict
- Sustainability, natural resources and food
- Culture, connection and creativity.
Within each of these areas, we have been developing ‘communities of common interest’, and have prepared directories of those working in these areas.
The number and range of these directories will develop as we continue to fulfil our Strategy 2020-25. They are dynamic lists, and they will adapt as colleagues join us or move on.
If there are communities that you would like to join, or areas that you think would benefit from such a directory, do get in touch with us.
The World Health Organisation has estimated that there are 18.1 million new cases of cancer and 9.6 million deaths each year.
There is a huge worldwide effort to tackle the range of diseases that come under the term ‘cancer’, and the Eastern Arc universities are playing their part.
Together with colleagues in the Norwich Research Park, researchers are looking at the causes and triggers of cancer, its treatment, as well as technological interventions, service delivery and behaviours underlying the management of it.
We have almost 100 academics and researchers looking at a wide range of issues around cancer. To find out about their work, click here.
The Eastern Arc region is known for its agriculture, and our universities work closely with independent institutes in this area, including the Quadram Institute, John Innes Centre and East Malling Research (NIAB-EMR).
We also focus on the wider issues of logistics and the supply chain, of trade, transport and consumption, as well as understanding the wider framework of how we use natural resources, how we manage biodiversity and how we ensure sustainability.
As part of this we need to understand how, historically, we have interacted with the environment, but also how we respond to it creatively. Our environmental humanities explore this, and our directory includes performers, writers, historians and lawyers, among many others.
In addition, episode 6 and 7 of our podcast series hosted a discussion between three of our academics who work in this area. Click here to listen.
Populations are changing, and people are living longer than at any point in history; there are already more than a billion people around the world who are over the age of 60.
The United Nations ‘decade of healthy ageing’ (2021-30) has identified this as a priority and seeks to bring together governments, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media, and the private sector to meet this challenge.
Across Eastern Arc we have a diverse range of researchers and academics who examine issues around ageing, and seek to provide answers and interventions to help us ‘age better’. We look at health, wellbeing, economic independence, inequalities, and a wide range of issues which underlie these.
In addition, we hosted a webinar on the healthy ageing priorities of Public Health England. To access the recording and slides from this, go to our events page.
The Eastern Arc region is home to some of the most significant historical and cultural sites in the country. It was the landing point for the Romans at Richborough Fort and the site of their British capital in Colchester, whilst their ‘Saxon shore’ defences stretched from Norfolk down to Kent. It was also the place where St Augustine established Christianity in the UK, and Canterbury Cathedral is one of the few UNESCO world heritage sites in the country.
In addition, our region is home to significant contemporary art collections and cultural organisations, including the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts on the UEA campus, The Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) and the Turner Contemporary in Margate, as well as a number of creative arts bodies such as Metal Culture in Southend.
Our universities are a reflection of this, and our expertise in heritage management, material and visual culture is broad and diverse. To explore details of those working in this area, click here.
Technology is increasingly ubiquitous and we are ever more reliant on it to inform us, to amuse us, to work for us, to care for us, to protect us. This reliance comes at a cost, and we need to vigilant as to what we lose and what we gain in accepting the digital.
Researchers across Eastern Arc are working on both the technology itself, but also on the societal, economic and personal issues that come with it. Our community of common interest in this area is broad and wide ranging, taking in machine learning and artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, the Internet of Things, and brain-computer interface. We also have sociologists and legal experts looking at the wider implications of our new relationships with technology. To find out more, click here.
Although significant advances have been made globally in improving health, increasing life expectancy and tackling communicable diseases, the UN has recognised that progress has slowed or stalled.
We can play a part in reversing this. Our work ranges from the clinical and scientific to the study of public health and health systems, and the examination of wider issues of wellbeing and mental health, which we focus on in a separate directory.
We also look at the culture and ethics of medical advances and developments in our understanding of health. We are home to researchers looking at health and human rights, philosophy and religion, medical authority and agency, and our artistic responses to health, through video, painting, writing and performance.
Image: Human passions delineated. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
According to Mind, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, and 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week.
These numbers are growing. Between 1993 and 2014 the amount of people with common mental health problems went up by 20%, and those with severe symptoms rose from 7% to 9%.
Across Eastern Arc we have researchers and academics looking at a range of issues underlying our mental health. We look at specific diseases, their treatment, the policies affecting them, and the impact they have on family and the wider society.
The UN Foundation has stated that more than 258 million migrants are currently living outside their country of birth. With climate change, conflict and economic instability, this number is expected to rise, and it has never been more urgent to address issues around migration.
The Eastern Arc region has been shaped in part by movement and migration. The east and southeast of England is the stepping off point for many people coming to the UK, but also for those leaving. Our research reflects this, and we have experts in conflict, cooperation, indigenous rights, economic migration, and development policy, as well as the cultural responses to these.
Our understanding of – and relationship with – the natural environment has never been more important. With the challenges of the climate crisis we need to work sustainably and think differently about how we farm, how we consume, and how we manage our natural resources. At our Conference 2021 we explored these issues with farmers, stakeholders, advocates and policy-makers, and looked at how our engagement with our environment will be changing in light of the legislation resulting from our departure from the European Union.
The idea of ‘natural capital’ extends the economic notion of ‘capital’ to encompass the world’s stock of natural resources, including its geology, soils, air, water and all living organisms. There are a significant number of people across Eastern Arc who are looking at how we quantify and use our natural capital, and these analyses and insights will enable us to live more sustainably.
To find out more about our researchers and their work in this area, click here.
In spring 2021 we hosted a webinar and short podcast series on ‘decolonising the curriculum’. We were joined by colleagues working across the three EARC universities to counter embedded racism and provide a positive, inclusive framework for both students and staff.
As part of this, we have developed a ‘community of common interest’ of those at the Eastern Arc universities with an interest in the wider issues of racism and discrimination. The first iteration of this list is available here.
We recognise that it is a starting point for conversations, discussions and collaborations, and will inevitably be incomplete. To help make it more comprehensive, do contact us with suggestions of those to include, whether that be yourself or others. the following information.
The participants in the original webinar are continuing to discuss their work, and we will be looking at other work going on across the universities at an institutional level. By doing so, we hope that we can support and facilitate links within and between the universities that will enable the sharing of knowledge, experience and good practice.
If you want to play an active part in this, do get in touch.