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Crucible Network for Research in Interdisciplinary Design

Crucible is a research network that originated in the University of Cambridge, and has become the largest organization in the world dedicated to promoting rigorous research collaboration between technologists and researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AH&SS). The main focus of this collaboration is on design as a meeting point for widely differing research disciplines. Crucible activities include the establishment of new research programmes, training of researchers, input to policy bodies, and identification of suitable funding sources for research in interdisciplinary design. Crucible provides both a scientific and organisational framework for this research.

Why the name? The crucible has always been a melting pot for valuable materials, the origin of new alloys, materials of innovation. We believe that the post-industrial crucible must be a place for melting and blending valuable knowledge and ideas.

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Crucible Network Members

One of the long term goals of Crucible is to support the creation of a national network of researchers and educators having shared interests. The focus of this network is on collaboration between technologists and arts, humanities and social science researchers, leading to reflective research in interdisciplinary design.

Crucible coordination activities are currently carried out by Alan Blackwell (Computer Laboratory), David Good (Social and Developmental Psychology) and Nathan Crilly (Engineering Design Centre).

Full list of Crucible Network Members

Events and Programmes

Research Projects

Crucible is a network, not an institute. Our approach has been to establish, facilitate and maintain collaboration between academics whose expertise can contribute to the goal of interdisciplinary design research. This has resulted in a matrix of connections: diverse projects, each structured in accordance with the skills and experience of the researchers involved, and a broad range of researchers both inside and outside the University. Crucible involvement has ranged from direct management of local teams to coordination and advisory input on large national and international initiatives. Projects to date include:

  • Assessment of query mechanisms for use in mobile web browsers on handheld devices.
  • From Creators and Critics to Communities. How are digital technologies changing the landscape of engagement between high-profile creative artists and their audiences?
  • New ICTs, civil society and bottom-up governance in the developing world is an inaugural research project of a multi-disciplinary Centre of Governance and Human Rights in Cambridge.
  • Investigating agency and intent in the experience of designed interaction, taking perspectives from psychiatry, consumer research and artificial intelligence.
  • Educational applications of physically-embedded computing to the world wide web, as a member of the European WEBKIT project;
  • The World Health Organisation is working with Crucible members to improve local response to outbreaks of new viral diseases such as Ebola. The challenge is to integrate field workers into a global research community, while empowering them to customise procedures and technical infrastructure to local conditions.
  • Aptivate (previously Aidworld), a charity working with computer science and humanitarian relief and development specialists, building software for ultra-low bandwidth Internet access in developing countries
  • Performance interfaces, notations and live music programming. Laptop music performers (Nick Collins), music technology developers (Chris Nash) and electro-acoustic composers (Alejandro Viñao) are working on the boundary of computer science and the music, with the Centre for Music and Science.
  • What happens when paper charts disappear from a hospital ward? The intensive care unit at Papworth Hospital implemented a fully digital bedside record system, under the gaze of a variety of social scientists and information systems experts. The results led to publications in both clinical medicine and technology research, contributing to future best practice.
  • Development of socially-aware computing technologies for use in a fine arts context by multimedia artist Alexa Wright;
  • Investigating the conditions in the built environment that lead to innovation communities, using a novel approach to Architectural ethnography;
  • Human factors and evaluation methodology for Dasher, a hands-free text entry sytem
  • As participants in the EPSRC Creator cluster, Crucible members are investigating New Research Processes and Business Models for the Creative Industries.