• SPOTLIGHT ON DAVID FELDMAN (DIRECTOR OF THE BIRKBECK INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF ANTISEMITISM)

    July 2022 Newsletter - Click on the arrow for more

    September 9, 2022

    July 2022 Newsletter

    "I’m David Feldman. I’m the Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism. I’m also a Professor of History at Birkbeck, part of the University of London."

    Has working with the Bonnart Trust influenced the way you think about your postgraduate students?

    "I think working with the Trust has influenced the way I think about my students in at least 2 ways. First of all, there’s the way in which applying to the Trust requires candidates to think about - not only their subject - but the relationship of their subject to the world outside of the academy. And that’s unusual to have as a presence from the very inception of the research project. So that’s one point of difference. The other point of difference is the Trust itself as a funder. Of course, a number of research students do have funders - the Research Councils for example - but the relationship with the Research Council is not a personal relationship, it’s not an interaction in the same way as it is with the Trust, and the way in which one feels the responsibility to the Trust as well as to the student, that things ought to go as well as possible.

    How do you think Trusts like Bonnart will have to evolve in the next few years?

    "The Trust has already changed in a sense that it’s taken ideas about toleration - which is not a language that we use so much now - to talk about inclusivity, for example, and social justice. The ways in which these ideas are interpreted now are not the same as they were interpreted 10 or 15 years ago, or certainly 20 years ago. So I think the ways in which the Trust will change in the future will – to some extent - depend on the ways in which we continue to reinterpret ideas about inclusivity and diversity and pluralism in modern society."

  • SCHOLAR SPOTLIGHT - SHEREEN HUNTE (MA STUDENT IN CULTURE, DIASPORA AND ETHNICITY, BIRKBECK, 2020 TO 2022)

    July 2022 Newsletter - Click on the arrow for more

    September 9, 2022

    July 2022 Newsletter

    "Hi there! My name is Shereen Hunte, and I'm a Masters student on the Culture, Diaspora and Ethnicity Masters at Birkbeck College, University of London."

    What is your research about?

    "Now, my research. My research centres both the black community and the Jewish community in Britain. Throughout history, throughout British history, both of these communities have been largely defined by their racialized identities, or their status, but also by their histories of oppression and migration. Despite this, little research has been done in Britain to centre these communities, and to understand the potential for allyship and collaboration. That is where my research lies. Throughout my Masters, I have been studying on the role of whiteness, to both of these communities, I have looked into the relationship between the Shoah and history of colonialism as well. For my dissertation, I will be focusing in – on the potential for allyship for the Black community and the Jewish community in Britain going forwards. I truly believe that if we continue to learn and understand this potential, then we will be able to truly disrupt the foundations of racial and religious intolerance in this country today."

  • CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF THE BONNART TRUST

    July 2022 Newsletter

    September 8, 2022

    Anthony

    July 2022 Newsletter

    To celebrate our twentieth anniversary the trust organized a reception and discussion, held at Birkbeck on 17th May. The event was attended by Bonnart scholars past and present, academic staff, trustees and friends and supporters of the trust.

    How does research get translated into action?

    Freddie Bonnart established his trust to support research by postgraduate scholars. What particularly interested him was what we now call “impact”; in other words how research makes a difference in the wider world. In his words: “…it is the subsequent action that is the essential part”. What that “subsequent action” might consist of, and how to make it happen was the theme of the evening’s discussion.

    Presentations

    Keiran Goddard, one of our trustees, introduced the speakers and chaired the subsequent discussion. The evening began with presentations from two academic researchers and two “users” of research.

    - Radha Chakraborty, chair of the Bell Foundation, spoke about how Bell had based its programmes on high quality commissioned research, and how that had given it purchase in national policy discussions.

    - Alison Blunt, Deputy Vice Principal for Impact at Queen Mary University of London, talked about the important role research plays in her university’s local and national relationships.

    - Will Stronge outlined his work as Director of Autonomy, a think tank, and how they had forged networks and partnerships between researchers, policy makers and the media.

    - Brendan McGeever, from Birkbeck, described how he engaged students in discussing the effects of research. He raised the question of values and how they are inextricably a part of any research agenda.

    Discussion

    In the discussion that followed a number of key themes emerged:

    Impact is often thought of as the direct and traceable influence that a piece of research has on some subsequent change to policy or to practice. Important though that is, many participants were looking for a wider meaning, and the discussion illustrated the many different ways in which research could influence thinking and action, from the individual, through local communities, to the national stage. Alison, for example, drew attention to the link between teaching and research, and to the fundamental characteristic of universities, where teaching is done by staff who are themselves researchers. That on its own provides an enduring conduit by which research thinking enters the wider community.

    Similarly, the engagement of universities with local civic communities was an important mechanism. Whether through mainstream communication and dissemination, including the (much reduced) provision of adult education classes, or through joint projects with local groups, such engagement was an important but often overlooked mechanism by which the fruits of research entered public thinking.

    Brendan’s comments on the question of values also led to a lively debate. Accepting that social science research can never be value free leads to complex questions about how existing value positions can be characterised and made explicit. And if the purpose of research is to support change in a particular direction, as it is for the Bonnart Trust, what influence might that have on methodologies, and on the interpretation and communication of findings?

    All of these issues have salience for our programme. While it is unlikely that a student’s project will on its own bring about policy change, Bonnart students are active in their local communities and bring with them their developing understanding of research in their own field and others. The discussion raised interesting questions about the nature of postgraduate education, about the extent to which students should be encouraged to reflect on the impact of their research, and whether training in media and other forms of public communication should be part of the student experience.

    Anthony Tomei, chairman.

  • FEATURING FREDDY

    March 2022 Newsletter

    September 8, 2022

    Freddy bonnart braunthal final png resized for website

    March 2022 Newsletter

    With no family of his own Bonnart determined his own legacy; a series of grants for students — the Bonnart-Braunthal Scholarship — aimed at tackling the causes and consequences of intolerance.

    Freddy explained the purpose of the Trust: "It is my purpose for this Trust to represent my own mark, however humble, on the future of society, As I have no family or direct heirs who might have carried on my ideas, it is the vehicle by which my ideals are to be propagated. That is why I wish my successors, as Trustees and Chairman, to ensure that this concept remains the fundamental basis of this Trust in perpetuity.

    The concept is expressed in action to achieve the aim of the Trust of combating racial, religious and cultural intolerance. I have chosen the academic route to provide the necessary intellectual rigour and discipline, but it is the initiation of subsequent action which is its essential part. For this reason I have taken a very close personal hand in the selection of candidates, and ensured that the relevance of their proposed thesis to this aim was a precondition thereof. This activity is to be continued; it means a personal contact with incumbents at least once during their studies, and insistence on the scholarship requirement of their final report which should show the action towards achieving the Trust aims evolving from their studies."

  • TRUSTEE SPOTLIGHT - FRANCESCA FABBRI (PHD IN ECONOMICS UCL, 2001 TO 2002)

    March 2022 Newsletter

    September 8, 2022

    Picture for Francesca audiogram

    March 2022 Newsletter

    How did you become a Bonnart Trust Trustee?

    "Little did I know, when I was offered the first Bonnart scholarship, what kind of impact it would have on my life! I had the luck and privilege of meeting Frederick Bonnart in person as I was awarded the first ever instalment of the scholarship – that was the beginning of many exquisite encounters with Freddy. He wanted to get to know his scholars personally and throughout my academic career he was a great supporter of my research. After Freddy sadly passed away, the then Chair of the Bonnart Trust offered me to become a Trustee – I didn’t have to think about it twice – I was delighted to be able to give Freddy something back by supporting his cause. And that’s where I still am."

    What is your current role? As a former Bonnart Trust scholar, how has it impacted on your current role?

    "I currently support the Trust with advice on its strategy going forward. I like to think that having been a scholar myself has helped me forge good relationships with some of the other scholars. Being able to understand the needs of PhD students has also been useful to shape some of the policies of the scholarship."

    What are you proud of as a Bonnart Trust Trustee?

    "I am most proud when I see the work of the scholars change the world for the better and when I see how dedicated our scholars are to the cause."

    Click here to listen to Francesca's audiogram.