Seeking new knowledge for mutual benefit

2019-10-08

Jesper Magnusson, Fredens Hus and Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon, Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre, CRS at Uppsala University.

When what is important to others unites with her own scientific drive is when Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon feels most at home. Together with Jesper Magnusson of Fredens Hus and research colleagues, she is now exploring successful ways to get facts across to young people. Both educators and researchers should be able to benefit from this knowledge.

When Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon and Jesper Magnusson first met, they quickly realised that they had common interests. The idea for a project that would benefit them both quickly took shape as they continued their discussions.

“I've always said that, when it comes to collaboration, you have to find people who have the same energy and passion as you. I believe in building a relationship. When Jesper and I started talking, we realised that we could do this better together than individually, and that we can have some fun while we're at it.”

Both she and Jesper Magnusson think that finding the right partner is one of the biggest challenges.

“As an association or small organisation, you have no idea where to turn if you want to collaborate with the University. It's literally like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Especially since it’s ultimately personal chemistry that’s the deciding factor. So, more meeting places are needed,” says Jesper Magnusson.

Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon agrees, and thinks it can be a jungle in the other direction as well.

“As a researcher, it’s important to find someone I trust. Good meeting tools really help determine that.”

Funding is another of the biggest challenges for collaborations between the humanities and social sciences, and with society in general. The capitalisation logic is not the same as it is in the technology, medicine and pharmacy fields.

“I see long-term benefits from the collaboration. Naturally, we work a lot with exhibitions in our communication with children and young people. How to best reach out to people and how facts affect attitudes and values are relatively unexplored areas. This is knowledge that I think would benefit the entire museum world,” says Jesper Magnusson.

“Yes, and we are interested in examining methods for communicating research results to different target groups as well as how we can also evaluate the methods,” says Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon.

Fredens Hus participates with their own time, and Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon and her colleagues have invested part of their research time in the project. The project has also received financial support from the University’s “Verification for collaboration” (abbreviated VFS in Swedish) initiative.

“VFS has been perfect for us. It gives us the opportunity to develop and formulate our idea for a larger research application,” says Martha Middlemiss Lé Mon.

The CRS research platform

The Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre, CRS, is a multidisciplinary research centre that focuses on religion and society in a broad context.  The main areas of research revolve around existential questions and values related to people's outlooks on life. Over ten years, CRS has built up operations through the research programme The Impact of Religion: Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy (IMPACT). More than 90 researchers from all disciplinary domains, with a focus on the humanities and social sciences, have participated in the programme. CRS is now applying its experiences from IMPACT to new projects. Read more at www.crs.uu.se

Fredens Hus

Fredens Hus, Peace House, is a non-profit organisation and educational centre that focuses on children and young people, as well as professionals working with youth. Through exhibitions in particular, the organisation works to promote gender equality, counter racism, and provide training in conflict management and active citizenship. Uppsala Municipality covers one-third of the organisation's costs. The rest is paid through grants from funds and foundations. Read more at www.fredenshus.se

The joint project between CRS and Fredens Hus

Together, the parties want to examine how fact-based knowledge can best be communicated to different target groups, and how to show whether these ways are successful. Thus, the project focuses on developing educational tools and developing methods for measuring how well the tools work. In concrete terms, Fredens Hus will build an exhibition for young people that is based on some research texts and is centred around the theme of identity. The researchers will then ask a number of visitors to answer questions about how they view and value different things, in part before and in part after they have visited the exhibition.

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