collaboration at our heart: bringing practitioners & researchers together to focus on Syria Crisis

Published on 23/08/2016

Sarah Palmer Felgate, our R2HC Partnerships Manager, talks about the highlights from the recent Research Forum held in Jordan, to bring together academic researchers and humanitarian practitioners based in the Syria region.

In May this year, we brought together 45 leading experts from the field of humanitarian public health research for a two day workshop in Jordan.


The aim of this event was to facilitate new connections between individuals, specifically academic researchers and humanitarian practitioners who are interested in conducting public health research and are based in the Syria region. Participants included senior representatives from the American University of Beirut, Jordan University of Science and Technology, International Rescue Committee, HelpAge International, DFID, Red Cross, UNHCR, and WHO, amongst many others.

During the first morning there was a quick-fire introduction session with everyone giving a 60 second ‘elevator pitch’ about their area of work or research interest. After the first few hours of the event, one participant remarked; “I feel like you’ve already done a year’s worth of networking for me!”

Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do at Elrha. Bringing together the right people to form effective partnerships ensures research is locally informed, ethically sound, and methodologically rigorous, resulting in the greatest positive impact upon health outcomes for those affected by humanitarian crises. Our Research Forum in Jordan built upon previous events we have hosted, including Town Hall meetings and partnership workshops, and we’re looking at even more ways we can reach out and best support potential applicants in identifying research partners and explore collaboration opportunities through similar events in future years.

For me, the highlight of our Research Forum was the world café session where thematic groups looking at priority health issues including mental and psychosocial health, NCDs, health systems, SRH, and WASH, shared potential research ideas and partners with eachother. There was an immense willingness to share, challenge, support, and offer advice on potentially useful contacts to take the idea forward. Academic researchers and humanitarian practitioners bring hugely valuable (but also very different!) contributions to the discussion and seeing such willingness to work together and support one another, whether directly relating to their area of interest or not, was a real accolade to those working in this field.

Bridging traditional boundaries between academics and humanitarian practitioners is challenging and the reality of conducting collaborative research often more so than anticipated by those involved. The Research Forum, and subsequent webinars, provided an opportunity to share some of our learning on what makes effective partnerships which will hopefully have helped to strengthen both Expressions of Interest submitted for our recent 4th Call, and future funded research partnerships.

If you would like more information about what makes an effective research partnership, there are many new resources available, as well as a Research Matching page. You can also get in touch with me for any specific support or advice relating to research partnerships.



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