Future-forming interdisciplinary research

2018 Annual Call for Fellows


The Institute for Social Futures – 2018 Annual Call for Fellows


Do you want to shape the future?

Applications are invited from academic staff and researchers at LU to join the Institute for Social Futures. The ISF is leading development of fundamental tools and techniques for cross-disciplinary futures thinking. Such developments are crucial if university research is to help solve major issues confronting society and the world. The ISF is a collaborative environment that fosters the serendipity arising from unexpected intellectual encounters. We seek individuals who will be influential with, and open to influence by, their colleagues in the diverse multidisciplinary cohort we assemble for a given year.

Since its foundation three years ago, the ISF has flourished, with projects being supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the EPSRC, the ARHC, and philanthropic funds. Current endeavours include investigations of how new materials for data storage may be designed and developed with long-term social and environmental considerations in mind; how the evolution of regional identity in a post-Brexit Britain will create new, mediated publics and the implications of this for the longer term governance; and devising new tools and processes to release the power of creative writing in a post social media age.

The ISF is led by Professor Rebecca Braun (Department of Languages & Cultures), Professor Richard Harper (School of Computing and Communications), and Professor Linda Woodhead (Politics, Philosophy and Religion). Its core team consists of a dozen representatives of all the main faculties of LU, including FST, FASS, FHM and LUMS. Their task is to develop their own and the ISF’s research profile and income through collaborations within the ISF and across the campus, and with other LU Institutes. The development of research opportunities beyond LU, with other universities, government and industry via RCUK (or other sources), are especially welcomed.

In addition to those mentioned above, current project themes in ISF are:

  • Planetary Futures in the Anthropocene
  • New Digitally-Mediated Publics
  • Future Places & Practices
  • The Social Future of Intelligence
  • Past Futures

New fellows can contribute to these or propose new themes.

Every year the ISF renews its core membership of fellows – up to a dozen. In addition to this, some 270 Lancaster academics and researchers are active in ISF events and research activities. Beyond campus, the ISF has established outreach into the wider region by way of its weekly Breakfast Briefings, its twice-termly Global Futures Lectures (which have a regular attendance of 100-200), its project-specific events, and its project plenaries. Its national advisory board comprises leading figures in politics, business and the arts. Its international profile is expanding with formal connections being developed with other futures institutes.

In 2018/19 we will be developing a number of exciting programmes and large projects that are the direct result of collaborations fostered by the ISF, notably: The Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre in Material Social Futures (21 PhDs across 7 years, starting Sep 2018). Other projects to the value of over £13 million for major cross-disciplinary research are currently under review.

As a new member of our team, you will be expected to help shape such ambitious research projects and gain invaluable experience in growing your own ideas with a diverse group of free thinkers leading to new research funding opportunities.

To apply, please send a 2 page CV and a 250 word summary of your work and activities and your interest in joining.

All fellows of the ISF are also based in a department. The benefits of an ISF fellowship flow to departments as well as faculties and universities. All research funds and REF outputs obtained or enhanced by ISF flow directly into departments. Benefits to fellows include:

  • Intellectual stimulation and companionship with a small group of colleagues from across campus;
  • Opportunity to shape the agenda of a major research institute;
  • Support and advice in developing publications, conferences, grant proposals;
  • Experience in research administration and leadership.

Fellowship is for one year, beginning in late September. Fellows give one day a week of their time to the Institute, and join a weekly meeting every Tuesday morning in term-time. They should be offered relief from other duties for one day a week by their departments, subject to the approval of the Head of Department or PI. Prior to applying please discuss this with your head of department, PI or supervisor as applicable.

If you have questions on the application, please contact one of the directors (Linda Woodhead l.woodhead@lancaster.ac.uk; Richard Harper r.harper@lancaster.ac.uk; or Rebecca Braun r.braun@lancaster.ac.uk). If you would like to be kept informed of ISF’s activities without becoming a member please subscribe to our newsletter by sending an email to isf@lancaster.ac.uk with the Subject Title: Newsletter Subscription.

Initial applications should be sent to m.bland@lancaster.ac.uk and received no later than March 23rd, 2018.

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