Knowledge exchange in SHAPE disciplines drives growth, benefits society and is thriving, new British Academy report argues

24 Jun 2021

Knowledge exchange in the SHAPE disciplines – Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts – brings significant social and economic benefits, which universities can capture through the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), the British Academy says today in a new report.

Following the first outcomes of the KEF, which were published in March this year, "Knowledge Exchange in the SHAPE subjects" draws on case studies from across the UK to show how SHAPE researchers excel at "knowledge exchange" – the connections and collaborations that universities have with businesses, public services and communities.

In a rich and diverse catalogue of benefits, the case studies highlight how knowledge exchange in SHAPE disciplines drives regional economic growth, develops new products and services and has informed the global response to – and recovery from – the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples include applying psychology to develop online assessment products, artistic and historical installations across York attracting tens of thousands of visitors, informing public and political debates on ethics around COVID vaccination, and driving crucial government investment in perinatal mental health services.

The report also suggests possible developments for future iterations of the KEF. These include extending the assessment categories to capture more activities, for instance by measuring explicitly how SHAPE disciplines work with policymakers, engage with schools, and how the insights from SHAPE can help drive inclusion and equality. These benefits are already being seen by universities and their partners, and so collecting information about these activities allows for broader understanding of how and where knowledge exchange occurs.

Professor Simon Swain FBA, Vice-President for Research and Higher Education, said:

“Capturing and celebrating knowledge exchange is a powerful and essential part of making the case for investment in SHAPE research and education.

“Whether it is assisting the police to reduce domestic abuse and better support victims, providing our leaders with the expert evidence they need to make difficult decisions about public spending, enriching and regenerating local communities, or giving people enjoyable and memorable experiences, knowledge exchange in SHAPE disciplines is relevant and effective. The wider societal benefits of SHAPE disciplines have also been underscored during the COVID-19 pandemic, where SHAPE insights have been vital to working with local communities and understanding and influencing societal behaviours, for instance about face masks and vaccines.

“With so much to shout about, it is vital that universities and SHAPE researchers take the opportunity provided by the Knowledge Exchange Framework to show just how successful they are in benefitting the communities they serve.”

Contact the press office

For further information contact the Press Office on press@thebritishacademy.ac.uk  / 020 7969 5273 / 07500 010 432.

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