Charles-St Andrews Joint Seed Funding Grants

Joseph North
Tuesday 28 February 2023

Researchers from St Andrews have been involved in exciting joint projects with partners from Charles University, Central Europe’s oldest university, as part of our strategic partnership. From setting up networks and early career research workshops to investigating climate change impacts, the Joint Seed Funding programme brings together complementary expertise from the Czech Republic and Scotland. With a new call imminent, we caught up with 2022’s awardees to see how their projects are evolving.

Narratives of migration, symbolic borders and trauma have rarely been more central than they sadly are today. Professor Kateřina Králová (Department of Russian and East European Studies, Charles University) is working with Dr Stavroula Pipyrou (CMR/Social Anthropology, St Andrews) to build a cross-disciplinary network of researchers investigating these topics. Prof Kralova said, “Our regular webinar series provides the opportunity to discuss our interests, fieldwork and best research practice. The diversity of our participants’ research enriches our understanding of symbolic borderworlds in a more global setting. We hope to contribute to the successful completion of PhD students’ theses and create opportunities for future collaborations between young researchers, departments and universities.”

Although they are located in Scotland, the Czech Republic and engaged in fieldwork, this group of early career researchers have started off well. Dr Pipyrou noted that, “Despite being at different stages of their doctoral research, they have already identified touchpoints, shared challenges and questions of practice to discuss at their next session.”

A screenshot of 12 students engaged in a video call on Microsoft Teams
Students from the Charles-St Andrews Borderworlds webinar

Home to a world-famous golf course and magnificent medieval ruins, St Andrews contains some of Scotland’s most iconic coastal heritage – which is threatened by climate change. Researchers at the School of History at St Andrews, and the Institute of Hydrogeology, Engineering Geology and Applied Geophysics at Charles University are working together to understand this problem, bringing together hands-on knowledge and experimental modelling. Dr Gianvito Scaringi (Charles University) said, “We will model ground stability and erosion problems at Scottish heritage sites to better assess risks and discuss risk reduction strategies. Dr Tom Dawson and his team are monitoring and working on these sites, they have assessed their vulnerability; we would provide statistical and physical modelling expertise. It will also be a chance to test our models in the real world.“ Dr Dawson (St Andrews) added that, following regular virtual meetings and an in-person meeting in Prague, they plan a “short road-tripʺ for Spring 2023. “We are looking forward to visiting threatened heritage sites around the Scottish coast, using our time together to select case study sites for our planned funding applications.ʺ

St Salvator's Chapel Tower skyline from the West Sands with sand dunes. © The University of St Andrews.
Some iconic coastal heritage: St Salvator’s Chapel Tower from the West Sands. © University of St Andrews.

St Andrews and Prague were both centres of the medieval world, known for their great cathedrals, manuscripts and universities. The Medieval Explorations project will allow early career researchers to handle manuscripts and early books in the University of St Andrews Special Collections. More broadly, the multi-lingual project explores the richness of the medieval imagination and new approaches offered  by digital humanities. Over a three-day workshop in May, Professor Ian Johnson (School of English, St Andrews) and Professor Lucie Doležalová (Institute for Greek and Latin Study, Charles University) will bring together colleagues, archivists and visiting academics to create a friendly and challenging interdisciplinary platform for 10 to 20 early-stage researchers to present ideas, ask questions and work directly on medieval materials. Prof Johnson said,“We believe it is time to connect our students, our research, our institutions and specialists from partner universities.“ In looking forward to the future of the project, Prof Doležalová noted, “This is a seed project, but several steps will be necessary before we see a blooming flower. We want to be open-minded and explore our common strengths, resources, expertise and institutional compatibility.” With links dating back to 2013, the project leaders hope to encourage early-stage researchers also to enjoy the benefits of international collaboration.

As we look forward to 2023, Jaromír Soukup from the Centre for Strategic Partnerships at Charles University said that “Our task is to facilitate cooperation between academics from both institutions. I am happy that in the first joint call has achieved this. I believe that the upcoming call will be equally successful in 2023-2024.”  Christian Harding, Acting Director of the Global Office at St Andrews, commented, “Our joint seed funding programme is an instrumental initiative as we seek to grow collaborative activity. We are delighted to have seen so many excellent submissions from a diverse range of areas, and are committed to ensuring that the scheme can continue to afford opportunities for us to increase the ways our colleagues work together.ʺ

To find out more about the 2023 seed grant, please visit our webpage.

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