Chapter 12 Extended Learning

This chapter is entirely optional and contains information about my personal lab. Again, this is entirely optional, and not tied to the course. I started my lab to experiment with teaching practice and collective research projects aligned with my research interests. The idea is that lab members co-learn, develop joint research projects, and work towards publication at an appropriate level. If you are looking to round out your CV with practical experience, or develop personal research towards publication, this may be of interest.

12.1 Ethics, Technology & Conflict Lab

The lab exists to promote innovative approaches to the study of war and conflict. In practical terms, the lab is a structure to enable you to learn research skills in a short period of time, to develop your own field of expertise, to experiment with scalable research methods and digital technologies, and to get practical experience in academic research for your CV. The underlying idea is to experiment and test the limits of what is possible in a way that is mutually beneficial to all persons involved.67 This means no filling envelopes, no fetching coffees, or any other drudge-work associated with internships.

This is my personal lab. The focus of lab work is the rather wide remit of “Culture, Technology and War”. If you are a student on one of my courses, the chances are that there’s something you are interested in within this frame. The central idea of the lab is to provide a space to experiment with teaching methods, and to enable students to develop their practical research and communication skills through project based learning.

There are four strands of activity to engage with:

  • Skills development. About a third of time spent in the lab is dedicated to the development of practical skills, most importantly experimenting with developing the skills required to undertake group or personal projects. We’ll experiment with learning sprints, collaboration technologies, and whole-cohort research projects alongside more standard elements like drafting and editing your prior academic work to suit different audiences.
  • Research projects. A fundamental aim of the lab is to enable groups to experiment with research projects68 Ones that do not require research ethics approval. that are devised by lab participants. In other words, follow your nose. This element of lab activity is intended to be creative, with the idea of producing minimum viable research products, that may be the basis for further, formal, research.
  • Communicating research. A third element of lab participation is the development of your work (and group work) to publication standard. This involves working through simulated peer-review processes to develop working papers, blog posts, data sets, reports, bibliographies, or further.
  • Professional experience. I have a range of ongoing research projects. If you need, or would like, experience of working on academic research projects, then we can agree upon a set of tasks that would suit your CV.

For the 2019/20 teaching year, this means:

  • A distributed research project durings terms 1 and 2. This involves learning to use a handful of digital technologies (Markdown, Git/Github, Bibtex) and using them to produce a research bibliography. The focus for this year will be conflict, strategy, and climate change.
  • A research communication workshop in term 369 This will be a 2 hour session focused upon transforming your work into viable articles, blogposts, etc, with a view to seeking publication

12.2 Strategy and Climate Change Research project

The purpose of this project is to experiment with distributed and remote project work. That is, the primary goal is to develop ways of working together at distance, at scale, and using data formats that maximise the utility of research outputs for other researchers.

The topic is strategy and climate change. This means we will be potentially looking at three different types of literature:

  • Literature on conflict and climate change, and examining it to analyse its potential consequences for strategy and warfare in the 21st century
  • Literature on strategic studies, and examining it to analyse the extent to which it is informed by current scientific assessments of the impact of climate change in the 21st century
  • Literature on the diplomacy of climate change, and examining it for insights drawn from, or contradicted by, existing work on grand strategy

If you are interested in working on any of those three subtopics in particular, get in touch. Equally, if you just want to learn some new skills and build up your CV, get in touch.

In theory, the schedule for 2019-20 looks something like this:

  • October: Get together for a first meeting, sort out tools we will use for research projects, training projects with tools, participants select projects they want to work on.
  • November: Initial literature search and scoping meetings.
  • December/January/February: Build project bibliographies, meet to discuss progress each month.
  • March: Meet to discuss interesting ideas, identify literature gaps.
  • April: Workshop to prototype potential research projects/datasets.
  • May: Writing and research communication workshop.

In short, there will be a meeting once every 3 weeks or so where we’ll discuss interesting stuff about strategy and climate change.