The rationale behind this series of talks is relatively straightforward: we noticed that it's actually very difficult for researchers to get a sense of everything that goes on in their institution. One tends to think, work and socialise almost entirely within one (or, at most, two) departments; the degree to which young academics specialise almost inevitably means that the university is a place where curious and intelligent scholars are working side by side for years in complete ignorance of each other.
At So What?, we think that there's lots of potential in the conversations that these people aren't having, and that anything which encourages researchers to find out more about each other is good. But whether you agree with that or not, there's no question that the challenge of presenting your research to a non-specialist audience - an audience who are interested but not necessarily informed - is one which postgraduates aren't faced with often enough. It's not just that public engagement is an increasingly important skill in all fields of intellectual enquiry, it's also that figuring your work in these terms can often be genuinely helpful in developing it, causing you to think about it in a new light.
Therefore, we presented twelve short talks in six one-hour sessions from January to March 2011. Postgraduates shared their motivations, the questions they're asking, their methods of answering them, and a few of their results. For them, this was a chance to think about their work in a slightly wider way, situating it within a larger world of academic enquiry. For you, it was a chance to glimpse the breadth and depth of study at KCL, and engage with methods of study you haven't previously encountered - something which you can still do by following the videos of the talks, which are currently being released one by one.