The Serendipity Programme

Sharing the gifts of cross-discipline thinking

The Serendipity Programme is coordinating workshops and public sessions are stimulating conversations across disciplines and leading to new insights.

Open-minded exchange of ideas is key to ground-breaking research. Yet the practice of science and engineering often takes place in silos. Hierarchies (students/senior academics); role boundaries (scientists/technicians/support staff); disciplinary differences (science/arts); and individual preferences or experiences (neurodiversity/cultural and gender issues) can get in the way.

An inclusive research culture with porous borders offers major benefits, especially since the Albertopolis community provides unparalleled access to world-leading museums and cultural institutions. Yet such ways of working can be difficult to achieve within existing research settings, where the focus is more on a specific research field than identifying and capitalising on the diverse strengths within each team.

Establishing effective communication is key. In many research groups text remains the dominant mode for scholarly scientific communication, through journals and online communication. This can disempower those whose creativity is sparked through interaction with people outside their primary field and whose ideas and insights are better developed and conveyed through non-verbal modes such as drawing, gesture or bodily performance. As a result, the creative and unconventional contributions of those with neurodiverse perspectives or cultural difference are often overlooked and undervalued.

The Serendipity Programme addresses the strategic aims of the Research England Enhancing Research Culture grant allocation by establishing a bespoke programme which cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries. This will support all members of Imperial’s research ecosystem in achieving their full potential, while taking advantage of the Albertopolis cluster’s unique opportunities for cross-disciplinary inspiration – especially with the Royal College of Music.

The proposal will establish a customised activity programme for supporting research communities across the Colleges. It builds on Imperial’s commitment to researching science and engineering as performing. Aligned with Performing Science, this proposal addresses the human experience of participating in a world-leading research-intensive university and conservatoire.

Project team

Roger Kneebone, Imperial (PI)
Giulia Frezza, Imperial
India Smith, Imperial
George Waddell, RCM
Aaron Williamon, RCM

Supported by

Research England Enhancing Research Culture

Learn more

CPS Medical Artist in Residence Merlin Evans has been capturing the Serendipity Sessions though a series of extraordinary illustrations. See what was captured below:

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