DSC Update August 2019
Hello everybody and welcome to another DSC monthly update. And this month, I'm joined by my wonderful Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Ralph Horne, who has just told me he is also a professor of geography. And during the course of this conversation, he is going to tell me which are the two landlocked countries in South America.
So, Ralph, my first question is around the highlights of RMIT and DSC this last year.
There's been some outstanding research performances. But if I was to pluck out a couple of highlights, I would say, clearly, the University getting awarded two Discovery Early Career Researcher grants in the design discipline. When, really, in the whole history of that DECR scheme, the ARC has only awarded one DECR previously, nationally, in that design discipline. I think, it was an outstanding result for us and, really, that new design school puts us in good stead for building a global research capacity in the future. So, that's great.
And, I think, we've had two major CRC successes in the last year. This is around-- that was really competitive, and we came out of it with, I think, a remarkable set of results. So, our research continues to go strength to strength.
Great, great. But there are some challenges, if I had, you know, 40 or 50 of our researchers in here-- and I meet many of them, as you do, and spend a lot of time with them. They would say, there are some challenges afoot. So, give me an idea of those. Let's be pretty honest with each other about how we are facing into those.
Look, there are headwinds-- I mean, there are headwinds globally, in terms of the reorganisation and restructure of higher education and research funding programs. In Australia, the ARC is not getting any more money from year to year, and yet there is more and more competition to grow research grants, research income, research capability across the Australian universities. So, even here, we are facing an environment which is more and more competitive. So, our researchers have to be better and better to succeed in that competition. So, yeah, there are a set of challenges around our-- building our research strengths, so that we remain competitive and continue to be able to make a contribution.
And how are we facing into some of the changes and the infrastructure, some of the support that researchers are experiencing at the moment?
Well, I mean, of course, right across RMIT, we are deeply into the transforming research services reform. And that's really about us taking an enterprise approach to research services to better support our researchers across the piece. Making sure that we have got tailored and available support where it's needed, so that the grant applications we make are the best they possibly can be. And our partnerships are strong. And likewise, our academics are positioned in such a way that they are best placed to succeed.
Tell me also about how we are preparing, the next era will be around impact and engagement. What are the ruses that you are putting in place to make sure we have a fantastic impact and wonderful engagement?
Look, I think this is a huge area. Research impact and engagement are-- even the terminology is relatively new still in Australia and we trialled-- era-- 2018 trialled an impact and engagement process, which, I think, was moderately successful and RMIT came out with a good set of results. But we have a lot of work to do. And, I think, partly this is about us, as researchers, thinking about engagement and impact from day one. From the moment when we conceive of a grant application right the way through writing it, being awarded it, undertaking the research. Thinking about what is going to happen in the medium term, in the short term and even in the long term as a result of the new knowledge that we are creating. So, that's about having the partners who are facing out into the world and, in a sense, literally partners with us in co-designing, co-delivering that new knowledge.
So, Ralph, we have, as a university, a terrific record on sustainability. Whether it's carbon emissions, whether it's the SDGs. We're doing great, great work and it is recognised by many, globally. We win Green Gown awards and we are recognised as a University that is leading in the space. Tell me a little bit about the sustainable development goals and how RMIT is positioning itself as a leading organisation?
Yep, well of course, on that note, the Times higher system of ranking universities has now got involved in SDG rankings and we are a player in that and I think we have got a lot of opportunity there to show and demonstrate our credentials in this space. But look, in terms of sustainable development goals, we already do a lot of work that is aligned to the sustainable development goals. Whether overtly or kind of, you know, indirectly. And, I think, there is a platform there for us to build on and be more overt. More and more global funding schemes and, you know, networks of research are aligning themselves overtly with the sustainable development goals.
So, there's many opportunities for RMIT in this space, given our credentials. And more and more interest across a whole variety of different disciplines, not just geography, in aligning work with the sustainable development goals. And that does link to the impact agenda, of course, because this is all about improving the lot of humanity and the environment across the planet.
So, thank you very much, Ralph. And you are now going to answer the question, the landlocked countries in South America.
I would ask Google. I mean, one of them is Paraguay, I can tell you that.
And the other one is?
I'll give you a hint that the other one might begin with B.
Bolivia. Thank you very much indeed, see you next month. Thanks Ralph.
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