Dr Mark Lamont, Lecturer in International Development at The School of Social Sciences & Global Studies Development, The Open University, joined Innogen in June 2020. After completing his PhD in Social Anthropology at The University of Edinburgh, he has worked at The University of Victoria, Canada; Goldsmiths, The University of London; and The British Institute in Eastern Africa. He is currently working on research projects in Kenya that promote sustainable community development and resilience. In this Q&A he highlights the need to redesign the application of social science research to address global challenges and growing inequalities.
What are your main research interests?
I am interested in transdisciplinary methodological questions. How can ethnography and history be 'useful' to people outside academia? This is not just about applying social science, but redesigning social science research.
I am also passionate about the potential of community science in development settings. Will global development be more, or less, elitist in twenty years? Given the growing desire to decolonize academic practices, I believe that social scientists and humanities scholars can learn a lot from those working in collaborative work places (Maker-Spaces), in STEM and in the medical sciences. I think that community science will be paradigm changing in this new, emergent context for the social sciences and humanities. I want to be a part of that.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm involved in co-creating community science and community heritage projects in Kilifi County, Kenya. This has been tremendously rewarding work and we continue to look for ways to bring about changes in the ways that scientific work is carried out in this area, inviting scientists and local leaders to develop more inclusive protocols for working together in the areas of marine science and forest conservation.
When did you join Innogen?
I was invited to join by my colleagues at The Open University in Development Policy & Practice earlier this year. I think of innovation as finding ways to use what is already there creatively and collaboratively to solve problems that most people think are intractable. That idea really attracts me. Working with interdisciplinary colleagues at Innogen I can contribute to make research accessible, practical, and usable as a public good.
What are the main challenges you have come across in your research?
In my view, the major challenges within the research landscapes in which I work relate to global inequalities. It is important that university-based researchers understand how inequality affects pathways to impact. We are living through a period of ethical change and we will require very broad sets of references to address some of our most pressing global challenges.
What impact do you hope your work might have?
I work towards making 'science' more accessible and applicable to the people who need it most. I believe there are great models of how scientific practice, however you define this, can be a resource for community empowerment. We need to develop critical methodologies and protocols to make this happen.