Co-Director reflections: Professor Gretchen Larsen (Business), one year later

Jan 9, 2024 | IAS News, Meet the team, Transformations (Issue 11)

Co-Director reflections

Professor Gretchen Larsen, Co-Director, IAS

I joined the IAS as Co-Director (Business) in October 2022. Interdisciplinarity has always been central to my work. While based in business and management, my area of expertise is located at the intersection of the social sciences and the arts and humanities, particularly the arts and the market. I believe that there is an ever-greater need for interdisciplinarity in order to make sense of an increasingly complex world in ways that are meaningful and fruitful. It is exciting and rewarding to be able to support others on their interdisciplinary journeys through my role in the IAS.

Alongside the normal Co-Directors role of supporting projects and Fellows, chairing various events, and working with the rest of the team to ensure the smooth running of the IAS, I am also tasked with enhancing the relationship between the IAS and Durham University’s Colleges. Our Colleges are of significant importance to the IAS and play an extremely vital role within our community. The current and longstanding primary role of Colleges has been in hosting Fellows, whom have delivered a public lecture in return. Some Fellows have contributed even further to their host College, through a variety of activities such as discussions with students on students’ own research and workshops with members of the College. Such contributions are highly valued by the Colleges as evidenced by this quote from the survey undertaken in the 2021- 2022 academic year:

IAS fellows have enriched the life of the college and made contributions to undergraduate and postgraduate life, via participating in academic and social events via the SCR. IAS Fellows’ lectures have proved very popular. We have also maintained ongoing relationships with former IAS Fellows.

To further enrich this important relationship, I have been working on several initiatives. We have introduced pre-Fellowship meetings between our incoming Fellows, the head of the host College, and myself. These meetings provide an opportunity for the Fellow and College head to meet, discuss the forthcoming Fellowship and how the Fellow might contribute to College life. Feedback suggests that these meetings have been worthwhile for all involved. I have also begun to meet with College heads to gain a more detailed understanding of their needs, what other kinds of activities might be of value to their communities and the Fellows they host, and how the IAS might be able to develop and strengthen this important relationship.

My first year as a Co-Director has been intellectually invigorating and professionally fulfilling. I have found myself in fascinating conversations about a diverse range of topics from collecting sea glass at Seaham to the importance of soil health in addressing the climate crisis. I have hosted lunchtime seminars, public lectures, and workshops and have engaged closely with our College communities to help share world-leading interdisciplinary scholarship. And, I have the privilege of working with an inspiring and supportive team at the IAS.

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