23 Jul 2015

Open University Underlines Research Credentials with Focus on Meeting Global Challenges

The Open University has refocused its research portfolio with the unveiling of four new priority areas designed to address some of the world’s major challenges such as global inequality, poverty and migration.

Benefiting from at least £7.5m of funding over the next five years, the four priority research areas are:

• Space Science
• International Development
• Citizenship and Governance
• Technology Enhanced Learning

The four areas form a key focus of Research Shaping the Future, the OU’s new research plan, and will continue to inform and underpin the university’s curriculum and student experience.

The decision to invest in these areas builds on successes in last year’s Research Excellence Framework exercise, which saw The Open University maintain its ranking in the top third of UK universities for research. The investment will also see the creation of a number of academic and research posts across the new priority areas, including a new Professorship in Space Science.

Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, Peter Horrocks, said:

“The OU is quite rightly known for its teaching and first-class student experience, but behind this lies an impressive and transformative research base. By prioritising our research investment in these areas, we can not only strive to transform lives and promote social justice around the world, but our students will benefit from the knowledge and expertise developed by our academics.”

The new research areas will be overseen by the OU’s newly-appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Academic Strategy, Professor Kevin Hetherington. Professor Hetherington is currently the Dean and Director of Studies of the OU’s Faculty of Social Sciences and will take up his new role on 1st October.

About new research priority areas:

Space Science contributes to major global challenges through scientific exploitation of imaging and detection. Space is also a subject which is popular among OU students, with the OU teaching more astronomers than any other UK university
International Development research at the OU is pioneering a new approach called “inclusive innovation” which involves poor and marginalised people in innovating their own solutions.
• The Citizenship and Governance research area is rethinking the changing relationships between states, markets and citizens in the 21st century, along with exploring the challenges involved in governance and leadership such as migration and security.
• The OU’s pioneering work in education research will be developed and celebrated through the Technology Enhanced Learning area, cementing the OU’s reputation as the European leader for massive innovations in learning technologies, which also help break down global barriers.

Further details can be found on the OU Research website

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