Civic voices: exploring the University’s partnerships

This month’s social responsibility and civic engagement newsletter is focused on civic engagement – and I’m delighted to be its guest editor. I’ve been a passionate advocate of the central role universities can play in their cities for more than a decade, and the main reason I came to The University of Manchester was because of its commitment to this civic role.

The University of Manchester is the original civic university – as we celebrate our 200th anniversary, we can reflect on the institutions from which it emerged. The Mechanics Institute was founded to meet the thirst for learning among the working people of the city, and was a driver of the Industrial Revolution, and the medical school – the first in England outside London – was needed to meet the health needs of the growing population. Times have changed since then, but the University’s role as a driver of the city’s economy and a force for promoting the well-being of its people remains central.

Civic engagement has so many dimensions. It’s about the way we work in partnership with communities, understanding people’s concerns and priorities, pooling our knowledge and skills to bring about positive change. It’s defined by place, but it shouldn’t be parochial. Often we’ll be trying out solutions in Greater Manchester that have global applications, while the global dimensions of our University will bring us insights that we can bring to bear on our work in the city.

The aim of this issue is to tell some of the inspiring stories of our civic engagement work, from across the university. Our civic engagement includes work from the Faculties, from crucial functions such as business engagement, from student volunteering; it encompasses research on health, the environment, social policy and much more. There isn’t room to include everything we do, but I do want to thank everyone in the University whose work has contributed in different ways to the civic role of the University, and to all our partners in the city. And if you have another story to tell – let us know!

For more information:

Prof Richard Jones, Vice-President for Regional Innovation and Civic Engagement