Defining in the doing: listening and reflecting in a community–university collaboration

Bethan Mathias Prosser, Bela Emerson, Esther Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Defining in the doing is an approach developed by the Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) at the University of Brighton, UK. It prioritises action and recognises the importance of practice in developing partnerships, drawing from both academic and practitioner principles in community development, community-based research and theories of social learning. This article will draw on this approach to reflect on a community–university collaboration, sustained during the Covid-19 global pandemic, between a community music organisation, a sound archive project and a doctoral researcher. Between 2019 and 2022, these practitioners brought together their expertise in sound heritage, music making, listening and sound methods, and community engagement to deliver three interlinked projects: Sounds to Keep, Sound Mosaics and Remix the Archive (RiTA). This partnership created mutual benefits by bringing together practitioner and academic knowledge and experiences. Through shared reflections, we draw out in this article the ways that the pandemic generated difficult working conditions, while also opening up space for creativity, flexibility and curiosity. But we also highlight how a defining in the doing approach is not commonly supported by the funding and administrative conditions within which we work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalResearch For All
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership, scholarship


  • collaboration
  • partnership
  • co-production
  • community engagement
  • listening
  • sound
  • heritage
  • community music
  • reflective practice
  • sound archives


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