23 February 2021
Public Engagement In The Digital Environment: Opportunities And Challenges For Arts And Humanities Researchers
Dr Anna Khlusova examines the impact of digital formats in delivering public engagement with arts and humanities research
The Arts and Humanities Research Institute is delighted to announce the launch of a new working paper, “Public Engagement In The Digital Environment: Opportunities And Challenges For Arts And Humanities Researchers”, by our postdoctoral research fellow, Dr Anna Khlusova. The current COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to some pressing needs for researchers with projects committed to public engagement, forcing them to shift from face-to-face engagement to digital formats. Dr Khlusova’s paper studies the use of digital methods by arts and humanities researchers in the present times to highlight the opportunities and challenges of delivering public engagement in the virtual environment. The aim is to bring out ways to make arts and humanities research more inclusive, interactive and collaborative in online realms while also highlighting the ethical and practical challenges faced by scholars in the process.
The paper examines three case studies of online conference, workshops and digital projects carried out by researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in King’s College London. The research process involved the use of observation methods (including attending and actively participating in planning meetings for each case study), interviews with project organisers and key members of King’s Arts and Humanities Research Institute responsible for planning public engagement, and finally digital contingency correspondents from the Being Human Festival. The case studies ranged from large online conferences such as Memes: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, with over 500 international attendees, to more intimate virtual workshop series with both national and international participants.
The findings of this study point at the many opportunities presented by digital formats that can improve current traditional research methods. Apart from being cost-efficient and allowing to widen audience reach, the benefits of using virtual platforms include increased interactivity, collaboration and co-creation opportunities as well as the possibility to digitise data and research outputs to be then evidenced and shared more easily. The study also finds challenges that come with translating physical events to online set-ups and offers suggestions for more strategic incorporation of digital technology, tailored to provide inclusive engagement and effective networking opportunities. The significance of this study lies in drawing our attention to the many potentials of digital formats for the university that will extend beyond the present COVID-19 crisis.
To read the working paper, please click here.