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International collaboration aims to create new understanding of ‘modelling’

A new project involving three European institutions including the University of Roehampton has been awarded €148,000 funding to undertake an interdisciplinary investigation on the methods involved in the process of modelling.

Posted: 4 March 2016

image for news story International collaboration aims to create new understanding of ‘modelling’
Dr Arianna Ciula from the Department of Humanities, one of the principal investigators on the international project that will create a new understanding of ‘modelling’.
Framed by existing practices of modelling in the Digital Humanities, the project will look to other disciplines that make use of modelling such as computer science, life sciences, economics and psychology. It will investigate how these disciplines use models (such as the structure of DNA, global warming or economic growth) to understand and approach the process of modelling. Modelling refers not to the models themselves, but to the process investigators go through in order to create and manipulate models i.e. the selective mapping process of the characteristics chosen to investigate.

Dr Arianna Ciula from the Department of Humanities, one of the principal investigators on the projects said: “From this project we will gain a better understanding of how modelling is currently being used by other disciplines than Digital Humanities, such as social and life sciences and identify if there are any commonalties and/or differences between the different discipline approaches, in order to move towards a more integrated understanding of modelling practices.

“Modelling is a core practice of research in Digital Humanities, where it is used, for example, to perform network analysis plotting kinship across time, to create conceptual models documenting our cultural heritage, to compare visual models of historical buildings, to classify literary authors’ writing styles. This project will inform our understanding of modelling and what draws researchers towards this method of research.”

Dr Ciula and her project partners will conduct a survey of the interdisciplinary literature currently available on modelling, as well as organising an international workshop and research visits bringing in expertise in the theorisation of modelling. An open access book about the theory and practice of modelling (focused in particular on modelling of texts and events) will be produced at the end of the project.

In addition to Dr Ciula, the projects principal investigators are Dr Øyvind Eide from the University of Passau and the University of Cologne, Prof Patrick Sahle from the University of Cologne in Germany, and Dr Cristina Marras from the Istituto per il Lessico Intellettuale Europeo e Storia delle Idee, Italian National Research Council in Rome, Italy.

The project will run from spring 2016 for 18 months. It will be funded by Volkswagen Stiftung, under “Orginal, isn’t it”, a scheme that aims to promote the exploration of research ideas of ground-breaking originality in the humanities and cultural studies.

The Department of Humanities places strong emphasis on research, which is championed at all levels of study. 100% of Roehampton’s research in History is rated "world leading" or "internationally excellent" for the impact it has on society (Research Excellence Framework 2014).

Find out more about Humanities research here.

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