Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security


Second Round of Projects Funded by Edinburgh Sydney Partnership Collaboration Awards

The latest projects to be funded by the Edinburgh Sydney Partnership Collaboration Awards have been announced.

By Samantha Allan

Established in 2016, the awards aim to help strengthen relationships and create new collaborative projects between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sydney.

Both universities have agreed to match fund projects, with Edinburgh offering up to £6,000 per project and matched by Sydney with up to AUD 10,000.

The award usually funds five projects per year, however due to the high-quality project proposals this year a sixth project was selected:

  • Shadow Agents of War: Italy, 1480-1530
  • Critical Public and Patient Involvement with Health Research
  • Sydney Edinburgh Research Collaboration Into Cancer Outcome Variation
  • The Geometry of Shock Waves in Reaction-nonlinear Diffusion Models
  • New Eyes on the Cosmos: The Hunt for Cold Gas and Hot Stars in the Distant Universe
  • The Impact of Accountability and Transparency on the Practices of Prison Officers in Australia and Scotland

Past project successes

The projects that were funded last year have seen success such as having research published and successfully securing further funds for the projects. The awards have also helped to strengthen internal connections by giving researchers the chance to connect with colleagues from other parts of the University.

The Family that Eats Together: Images of commensality across two cities

Professor Teresa Davis, Professor David Marshall and Professor Katherine Belov

Professor David Marshall collaborated with Professor Teresa Davis from the University of Sydney to investigate family meal times. The project expands on previous research with several other universities, looking at 50 years of family related advertising in print media.

Using qualitative research methods including photographs and interviews, the research examines the complexity of family meals, the shifting definitions of family and the actual practices of family mealtimes in both Edinburgh and Sydney.

The award allowed research planning to take place face-to-face, which Professor Marshall said it was a fantastic way to share knowledge and ideas.

The team presented their initial findings in April at the Child and Teen Consumption Conference in Angoulême, France and presented at the British Sociological Association Conference in Newcastle, England. They ran a dissemination workshop on Family Meals and Commensality as part of the FriED seminar series in Edinburgh in May. It is hoped that more funding can be secured for the project.

“We continue to think about how we can share ideas and we’ve also been looking at how to build future funding initiatives.”

Professor David Marshall

Connections were also made with colleagues from within the University:

“It’s also given us a chance to talk with colleagues on the other collaborative partnership projects at Edinburgh like Professor Rebecca Reynolds and Professor Geoff Simm, allowing us to connect internally as well as externally.”

Professor David Marshall

Not only did the fund allow the researchers to meet in Sydney, but it gave Professor Marshall a chance to meet with other members of the University community. He added:

“I got the chance to link up with some of our students who were over in Sydney for their year abroad so it was great to see them. I think that building exchange links like this with universities are really beneficial to students.”

During his time in Sydney he also participated in an alumni event where he got the chance to reconnect with Edinburgh MBA graduates who were originally from Australia or who had relocated to work there.

Optimising Perinatal Nutrition to Improve Health of Next Generation: Edinburgh Sydney Partnership: cONqUeST

Professor Teresa Davis, Professor David Marshall, and Dr Adrienne Gordon

Professor Rebecca Reynolds worked with Dr Adrianne Gordon from the University of Sydney to look at ways to improve perinatal health.

The pair originally met at a conference in Sydney, following which Dr Gordon was awarded a travelling fellowship to visit the University’s labs.

“There are a lot of parallels between health of pregnant women in Sydney and Edinburgh, particularly with the rising prevalence of obesity. We were keen to look for opportunities to build our collaborations to further develop our research in this area. This opportunity was the perfect fit.”

Professor Rebecca Reynolds

Like Professor Marshall, they found that it was beneficial to be able to meet and discuss research plans.

“The funding has helped cement the collaboration. We've had a very successful workshop in Edinburgh and are holding a further meeting in Sydney later in the year. The opportunity to meet face-to-face has really helped with progressing the project and developing some new avenues for our research. In addition, we were able to extend our network of collaborators, hopefully fostering new ideas.”

Professor Rebecca Reynolds

The team has published a review article and submitted two large grant proposals, one from Sydney and one from Edinburgh which are currently still pending. They have been awarded some further funds to help extend the project which includes PhD exchanges.

Strategic Global Food Security Alliance in Support of Planetary Health

Food Security in Support of Planetary Health Sydney Workshop

Working with Professor Robyn Alders from the University of Sydney, Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security Professor Geoff Sim organised two workshops at each university on the theme of food security supporting planetary health. This saw discussions focus on a range of topics such as water, soil, waste, food distribution and economics and ethics.

"The funding allowed us to have two very productive workshops on the theme of Food Security in Support of Planetary Health – one in Sydney and one in Edinburgh. It turns out that we both had growing bilateral links on a similar theme with University of California, Davis and so UCD colleagues were involved in both workshops.”

Professor Geoff Simm

In May all three of the partners attended the Planetary Health Alliance meeting in Edinburgh, including co-chairing sessions and being panel members.

“There’s plans to contribute to the Planetary Health Alliance meeting in Stanford next year, and hold a further workshop at UCD…there are also plans to do curriculum mapping with BSc Agriculture programmes to facilitate Study Abroad offer for Edinburgh and Sydney students.”

Professor Geoff Simm

He added that additional valuable insights and linkages were formed when Professor Teresa Davis and Professor David Marshall attended the planetary health workshops.

Methodological Innovations for Assessing Learning in Digital Spaces

With higher education increasingly involving learning in both physical and digital spaces, understanding how design can impact student engagement is imperative.

Partnering with colleagues in Sydney, the project aimed to look at how digital assignments are assessed and how students understand what is expected of them and how student engagement is impacted by data-informed feedback.

"The funding made a huge difference to the depth of collaborations between the Centres…the project allowed us to design and run two empirical studies that generated some really valuable new insights into how we can think about assessment and feedback, and have sparked an ambitious new project bid that none of us could have anticipated at the start of the project.”

Dr Jen Ross, co-director of the Centre for Research in Digital Learning

The team, which involved early career academic and doctoral students as well as established researchers, have published conference papers and have several journal articles in the process of being published.

There is also hope to expand on the findings of the project, Dr Ross said:

“We are now in discussions about a large project on the topic of automation of feedback on complex assignments - a cutting edge and interdisciplinary topic bringing computer science, literacy studies and digital education researchers together.”

Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences at Sydney and Edinburgh: Exploring Partnerships on Oceans and Everyday Environmentalism

The aim of the project was to develop deeper interdisciplinary of key global environmental issues and to host two workshops, the first in Sydney and the other in Edinburgh, to produce high quality publications as well as producing online lectures and podcasts.

The focus of the Edinburgh based workshop was to look at the environmental factors of everyday life and the circular economy.

The workshop examined the flow of materials such as food, energy and clothing through people’s everyday lives and if, or how, these flows represent a new type of environmentalism.

Over the course of the workshop the group analysed eleven papers, looking at different people and groups who engage in environmental practices including food movement, community energy and sustainable fashion.