>Where do good (fundable) ideas come from?


The annual School of Slavonic and East European Studies awayday takes place at the Art Workers Guild building in Bloomsbury: we sit in an oak-panelled conference with portraits and busts of whiskery Victorian gents staring down at us, although luckily there are a few more modern pieces displayed around theie fine building (see opposite). We are there  to discuss grants and how to get them. The question is how to communicate with your prospective funder and whether fundable ideas stem from careful dissection of funders’ priorities or from interesting stuff that’s been brewing up at the back of your brain, or a mixture of both. Our mock group grant assessment exercise suggests that, if reasonably coherently formulated, good ideas win out in the end, mainly  because non-specialists will immediately tend to get them.

Pop (social) science author Steven Johnson tells us good ideas are slow burning hunches, which have bumped into other people’s hunches in spaces where ‘ideas can have sex’ and that ‘chance favours the connected mind’, explaining why C17th coffee house was a driver of intellectual innovation. YouTube has a nice five minute summary of his book (below), which seem a good way to save 20 dollars. But, of course,  when translation specialists are asked to relate their work to themes like statebuilding and policing in Afghanistan, it’s not surprising people start wondering if there is a difference between good ideas and fundable ones?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply