Dr Alison Haggett

Grand Challenges Anchor Academic

Multi-disciplinary learning

Name Dr Alison Haggett
Email A.N.Haggett@exeter.ac.uk
Position Research Fellow in the Centre for Medical History
College College of Humanities
Modules HIH517, HIH3005, HISM205

Promoting multi-disciplinary learning with Grand Challenges

Dr Alison Haggett is a Research Fellow for the Centre of Medical History. Her work focuses on the history of mental illness and psychiatry in the twentieth century. She is particularly interested in gender and mental illness; “I look at the different associations that have developed surrounding men, women and mental health - particularly the idea that women might be more likely to develop psychiatric disorders, when in fact 75% of suicides are in men…”

Alison Haggett was an Anchor Academic for Grand Challenges, working with Academic Lead Professor Mark Jackson on ‘No health without mental health’. Alison worked with students to consider all aspects of mental illness. One group in particular explored initiatives to help challenge the stigma of mental illness. After taking a multi-disciplinary approach, working with academics from multiple fields and with experts outside academia, Alison reflects on her experience: “I think [Grand Challenges] was the best teaching experience I’ve had, because it was completely different… I learnt a lot from it as well [as the students].” Alison also explains how developing relationships between the community and the University was central to Grand Challenges: “Local charitable organisations were really pleased to get involved with the University… to have a group of academics and students who were keen to be out there and engaging with them went down really well.”

“[Mental illness] is one of the biggest global challenges of the twenty-first century. It is estimated that 25% of us will be diagnosed with a common mental health disorder every year… It is certainly something that most students will have some experience of - if not personally, then perhaps with a family member or a friend.” Alison encouraged students to look at a range of different aspects: “Some looked at government policy, others at mental health at work. One group explored the importance of including individual experiences and what insights these can bring to us.” The Challenge involved “some plenary lectures where experts came in to talk to [the students], but a lot of it was about them getting out in the community and working with charities and other professionals. This of course included people with mental health problems themselves, so it was a real-world experience for them.”

This educational experience made a tangible impact on the students involved. “At the end of the week, [the students] produced some wonderful outputs… we had the opportunity to discuss, with the University, signing up to the Time to Change Organisational Pledge, which was an important legacy from the Challenge. We were delighted that, as an institution, we formally signed up to this in December 2014.”

Aim 6: Multi-disciplinary learning for global challenges 

To provide all students with the opportunity to explore the relevance of different disciplines to contemporary challenges facing the world

Multi-disciplinary learning with Grand Challenges

"Grand Challenges... gives [students] a chance in the first year to spend a week in June, stepping outside of their disciplines... thinking about some of the big global challenges that face us in the twenty-first century."