Funding for MASTERY: how to deal with sensitive topics in academia
Ten projects have been selected during the fourth call in the Seed Funding Programme launched by EUniWell. Marieke Liem, Professor Social Resilience and Security, has received a grant for the MASTERY project.
The projects chosen bring together researchers, students, educators, and administrators from affiliated universities in innovative projects addressing EUniWell’s core commitments to advancing well-being in health, education, people and institutions, gender equality and/or reducing inequalities.
In this project, led by Katharina Karcher from the University of Birmingham, Liem and her colleagues hope to identify and promote measures to improve the well-being of researchers and students working on sensitive issues. By creating tools and resources that teachers will be able to use to introduce and discuss sensitive topics in a safe and inclusive manner when teaching.
Introduce and teach material that may cause distress
MASTERY seeks to change how we deal with ‘sensitive’ topics in academia, Liem explains. ‘Films, social media threads and other media content containing potentially distressing material often begin with a trigger warning. However, the use of such warnings in research and teaching contexts is controversial, and some research suggests that it is ineffective (Sanson, Strange & Merryn, 2019). So, how do we introduce and teach material that may cause distress? And, what support should universities offer to academics who are regularly exposed to such material due to the ‘sensitive’ nature of their research and/or teaching? So far, research has barely addressed these crucial questions.’
Liem: ‘Drawing on the expertise and experience of researchers in a range of disciplines, our project seeks to change how we deal with ‘sensitive’ topics in academia. Topics that are commonly regarded as sensitive include war, domestic violence, political activism, extremism, rape, homicide, mental health, death, traumatic childbirth, abortion, and sexuality. Although it is widely known that sensitive topics can cause distress, academics receive no training on how to deal with potentially distressing material. Our project seeks to change this.’
Project with two objectives
The project has two concrete objectives: 1) identifying and promoting measures to improve the wellbeing of researchers and students working on sensitive issues and 2) creating tools and resources that can be used by teachers to introduce and discuss sensitive topics in a safe and inclusive manner in the classroom.
This project has been awarded €25,000 to facilitate online and in-person workshops, to create an online toolkit for teachers and researchers, and to establish a transnational support network connecting academics and postgraduates working on sensitive issues.
More about the other projects can be found here.