How do original insights into migration emerge from Open University researchers in partnership with scholars based in other institutions? How do they become available to the wider public?
One of the aims of our Year of #Mygration is to point all-comers to our research, engagement and teaching materials. We have already begun to mine the Open University’s own archives to showcase some of the earliest television programmes.
While designed primarily for students, it is a commonplace that these early OU/BBC programmes fascinated a wider audience. Their impact was therefore significant, in our case in explaining some of the background to migration to anybody who was interested. Technology, economics and goodwill now mean that the widening of access which is at the heart of the Open University’s mission can often apply to research. The general public can search for our researchers’ latest thinking. Instead of having to negotiate access to academic libraries, anyone can read a huge range of open access research materials.
One example from 2017 is that two of our researchers and stream leads in our Citizenship & Governance strategic research area, Jacqui Gabb and Sara de Jong, co-edited a special edition of Discover Society on Families and Relationships in Crisis, which included an article by Umut Erel, Maggie O’Neill, Tracey Reynolds and Erene Kaptani, colleagues from the Open University, York and Greenwich. It refers to Participatory Arts and Social Action Research and is thus a fine example of innovative research, with impact, which is open to all.
Being ‘Open to People’ in this context meant recognising that those pushed to the margins of society would need encouragement and creative opportunities to have their voices heard. The article, Crisis Upon Crisis: Migrant Families With No Recourse To Public Funds, explains how theatre workshops enabled migrant mothers such as Elaine and Theresa to explain their experiences of a combination of public policies and to convey their proposals for better ways forward.