Influence the new OU Research Plan: OU Societal Challenges

To help determine the challenges we will focus on, we are asking The Open University family of staff, students, alumni and partners to contribute their ideas.


This article was submitted on behalf of Professor Kevin Shakesheff.

The OU was born to be disruptive. During its first 50 years it collaborated on huge societal transformations in education and technology. When first imagined, it was a radical departure from ‘normal’, a bold and disruptive innovation.

Under our mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas, our research contributes to improving lives in the UK and globally by addressing societal challenges and creating new opportunities. OU research has inspired our teaching and made real differences to UK industry and the lives of citizens in many countries.

Research is a key pillar of our institutional strategy and from 2022, as part of our new Research Plan, we will be telling the world about the societal challenges that we believe the Open University can play an important role in tackling over the next decade.

To help determine the challenges we will focus on, we are asking The Open University family of staff, students, alumni and partners to contribute their ideas.

We are using the term “OU Societal Challenges” as shorthand for any problem we can tackle or any opportunity we can help society to grasp. Some challenges will be focussed and could be addressed within five years, others will take decades to solve. We would like a mixture of medium and long-term opportunities in our new research plan.

Everyone has a voice in this process, irrespective of your own experience of research. The OU societal challenges will be owned by everyone in the OU family- staff, students, alumni, and partners.

Our Listening and Discovery Phase 

Open for your comments over the summer to early autumn of 2021 – please submit your ideas so we have as many voices as possible helping to shape our research future. We want to be surprised and stretched by the ideas so tell us about the challenges you really care about.

This survey is your opportunity to shape our future research.

Please follow the link below to complete the survey, which should take about 5-10 minutes to complete.

Please complete the survey by 8 October if possible, but before 31 October 2021 at the very latest.

Complete the survey now: https://sp1.arksurvey.uk/s3/9302cec90726?type=2 

For any questions or queries, please contact: Societal-Challenges@open.ac.uk

Thank you in advance for your input.

Best wishes,

Professor Kevin Shakesheff
Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, Enterprise and Scholarship


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