Two new initiatives funded by VCSDF

12 October 2015
Paula Morris has been awarded a grant for her Academy of New Zealand Literature initiative.

The Faculty of Arts received two Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Development Fund grants in the latest contested round, both for projects that focus on connecting practitioners and communicating their work.

Dr Paula Morris, convenor of the University of Auckland’s Master of Creative Writing programme, was awarded a grant of $130,000 for her Academy of New Zealand Literature project and Dr Avril Bell, Dr Robert Webb and Melanie Milicich were awarded $93,500 for their Engaged Social Science Research Initiative.

Academy of New Zealand Literature

The Academy of New Zealand Literature is designed to promote the work and ideas of the writers of contemporary New Zealand literature.

Based on international models like the Royal Society of Literature in the United Kingdom and the German Academy for Language and Literature, the ANZL will present a compelling narrative about New Zealand’s contemporary literary culture — fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction — to the world.

Paula explains that “the focus is on tangible outputs, including a content-rich website that is a showcase for our contemporary literature, a source of secondary research material through interviews and features, and for intellectual debate through conversations between New Zealand and international writers.”

As well as an online presence, the ANZL will provide forums, master classes, seminars, festival events and a residency, and will involve students in research, administration and talent liaison, and provide mentoring opportunities with professional writers.

The ANZL has broad support right across the literature sector in New Zealand, and had input throughout the planning stages from a writers’ advisory group including Fiona Kidman, Vincent O’Sullivan and Eleanor Catton, as well as from industry partners.

Engaged Social Science Research Initiative

The Engaged Social Science Research Initiative will provide electronic and face-to-face platforms to connect social scientists — both academic staff and postgraduate students — across the University.

These platforms will provide contexts to coordinate and promote the value of the social sciences and to consider avenues to increase social science impact. This initiative will also facilitate the development of new interdisciplinary networks and conversations around shared substantive research interests internally, nationally and internationally.

Avril explains that “I work within the School of Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts, but we know that there are social scientists working across the University. This initiative is a very exciting opportunity to connect as many of these social scientists as possible around shared research interests. It’s a unique opportunity to showcase the work of the social sciences within the University.”

Like the ANZL, as well as their online presence, the ESSRI will also host Social Science Research Cafes. Like research salons, these are designed as fairly informal and collegial gatherings fostering interdisciplinary conversations that are generative and substantive in purpose. There will be funding to invite international scholars and they hope to offer travel bursaries to postgraduate students from other New Zealand and Australian universities.

The Cafes will culminate in a summit meeting to strategise over further collaborations to take interdisciplinary initiatives with high potential forward.

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