Professor Mark Jackson

Grand Challenges Academic Lead

Research-led learning

Name Professor Mark Jackson
Position Professor of the History of Medicine and Research Theme Leader for Medical Humanities
College College of Humanities

Engaging in interdisciplinary research and public engagement activities

Mark Jackson, Professor of the History of Medicine and Research Theme Leader for Medical Humanities, is a keen researcher, focussing on patterns of disease and experiences of disease in the modern world, for example. Mark is also responsible for several research teams exploring issues of lifestyle, health and disease.

In addition, another important area of Mark’s work is promoting interdisciplinary research, working with colleagues from a range of disciplines including Classics, English and Psychology. Mark is also committed to public engagement and impact activities, teaching medicine and research skills to GCSE and A-Level students at a local school, for example.

Mark is keen for students themselves to adopt an interdisciplinary perspective to their subject matter to broaden their thinking and understanding. As Mark explains:

“I think if [students]…are exposed to….multiple disciplinary perspectives [and] interdisciplinary approaches then they will be better able to take those on…I don’t think that many of the problems in the real world that we need to address can be approached from a single discipline. I think most of them need different approaches and I think if we don’t use the multiple approaches that we have, we’re not going to be able to solve some of those problems, and the young scholars, the students, undergraduates and postgraduates, are the people who will soon have the skills to do that”.

Promoting multi-disciplinarity through Grand Challenges

Mark has also been involved with Grand Challenges, leading the Challenge, “No Health without Mental Health?”. Grand Challenges is a week-long summer programme where University of Exeter undergraduates work together in interdisciplinary research groups, alongside top academics in order to address some of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century.

As Mark discusses, the Challenge aimed to highlight that mental health must be taken as seriously as physical health in terms of the way people live in society and the services that are offered. Students on the Challenge were tasked with considering what a policy of health for all could look like.

As Mark points out, participating in Grand Challenges is an important means to develop students’ transferable skills and their ability to tackle contemporary global challenges: “The students that opt to do Grand Challenges are committed, energetic, intelligent, enthused, but more importantly in the context of this, they’re open… What Grand Challenges allows us to do is to bring together different people, to suggest new ways of doing things, to offer the students quite often the tools to do it how they want to do it.”

Value of engaging in collaborative, cross-disciplinary research

"...what's nice about collaborative work is that you learn new techniques [and] new ideas'.

Public engagement and impact activities

"I think we have a responsibility as academics to be public intellectuals, to reach out and discuss, and make available our work".

Developing transferable skills through Grand Challenges

"...our experience...of doing Grand Challenges is that...[students] are hungry, thirsty for information, methods and understanding".