By working within/across the themes of the Centre, researchers will have the chance to work together, and a fortnightly seminar series will be arranged for this purpose, allowing them to share their ideas with national and international experts in the field as well as giving them opportunities to present their latest work.
A key element of the training will be a foundational year which, while still research-based, will include two non-credit-bearing introductory modules: (1) a skills-based module on interdisciplinary research, backed up with an intensive Crucible experience (Semester 1); and (2) a co-taught module focusing on theories/methods within Extinction Studies and designed to accommodate students from both arts and sciences backgrounds (Semester 2). These two modules, neither of which will be formally assessed, will engage practical ways of addressing the difficulties associated with doing university-based interdisciplinary research, and will include short ‘crash-course’ elements (including science-based mini-MOOCs and arts-based ‘creative labs’) designed to introduce arts-oriented students to scientific subjects and vice versa, based on the reasonable assumption that some students will effectively have to learn a second discipline, while others will be encountering interdisciplinary research for the first time. These modules will be open to other doctoral researchers working in cognate fields, building a platform for interdisciplinary training at the University for many years to come (see also Legacies below). The PL (Graham Huggan) will take the lead on designing and implementing these modules, based on his 20 years’ experience of leading interdisciplinary doctoral programmes; however, both modules will be developed in full consultation with other members of the core group. For teaching purposes, Huggan will join up with another member of this group, based on their qualifications and availability; these roles will later rotate to other members of the team.
Depending on the disciplines involved, training may (but does not have to) involve a 1-2 month fieldwork component, while participating researchers may also opt to do a short (max. 1-month) industry placement. Current available options, depending on the host School, include the Environment Agency, Unilever and GSK. The transfer exercise, usually held at the end of the first year, will involve representatives from two of the participating Schools, while the main training output, the doctoral thesis, will be examined by experts in two different disciplines. Career options actively explored in the professional training programme will include laboratory or other types of research work, green business, environmental consultancy, media and communications industries, and humanitarian/environmental NGOs. These opportunities will be enhanced by an annual practice-based workshop involving a regional/national company or NGO and geared towards spreading knowledge of the extinction crisis and finding new, creative ways of addressing it in the public domain; by a postgraduate-led installation, ‘Inhabiting Extinction’ (Year 3), hosted by the University’s new Centre for Immersive Technologies and featuring the latest in extinction-related VR and AR technologies; and by an international PGR/ECR conference, ‘Extinction: Then and Now’ (Year 2) as part of the University of Leeds Frontiers Institute (LFI) launch (see Legacies below).