January round-up

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility2023 has got off to a very exciting start as we prepare for the long-anticipated reopening of Manchester Museum on 18 February. Our £15 million capital project has led to a new South Asia Gallery, Chinese Culture Gallery, Belonging Gallery, a brand new Dinosaur display and our first blockbuster exhibition – Golden Mummies of Egypt. Other new features include a Changing Places toilet, prayer room, quiet room, picnic area and therapy room. Join us at one of our exhibitions or events as we work towards a more sustainable world with social justice at its heart. 

On social inclusion, a new briefing from the Runnymede Trust and our Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity has found that racism is the ‘fundamental cause’ of COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy among ethnic minority groups. These findings suggest that if policy intervened on institutional and community-level factors – shaped by structural and institutional racism – considerable success in reducing ethnic inequities might be achieved. Our PhD Student has received a ‘Most Promising Young Person in Manchester’ award after turning a fully inclusive Alternative Football League into a Community Interest Company. And to celebrate LGBT+ History Month this year, we’re delighted to host a range of speakers, a curator-led tour of ‘Queering the Whitworth’ and a session on the LGBT+ History of the University.  

On prosperous communities, we have been sharing how, since our foundation, enhancing the quality of life in communities has been at the heart of our values. During winter graduation, we celebrated our Greater Manchester Graduates who have been making a difference. And we’ve been delighted to see the attention that The Guardian has been giving to our role in the Mayor’s new  Atom Valley project – a public-private partnership to build an advanced manufacturing hub and create 20,000 jobs across three separate sites in Bury, Rochdale and Oldham. The name references our University’s role in splitting the atom (Ernest Rutherford, in 1917) with a deliberate nod to California’s Silicon Valley. 

On better health, our researcher Dharmi Kapadia (with Jingwen Zhang and James Nazroo) won a Sociology Public Engagement Prize for their influential report which uncovered stark ethnic inequalities in healthcare. Our Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health hosted the Eigth Annual Irene Manton Lecture with “one of the best climate change lectures I have ever listened to”. Our DentMan conference celebrated its 10 year anniversary by demonstrating how students are addressing dental health inequalities across Greater Manchester and beyond. We’ve been nominated for a British Heart Foundation Heart Hero Award for our work on recycling. And make sure to visit our Prostate Gap photo exhibition which is exploring prostate cancer in under-represented communities in our society. 

On environmental sustainability, check out our new microsite which highlights how we are addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our Research Explorer function now facilitates tagging of researchers and research outputs by each of the SDGs. And we’re working on a project to ensure the SDGs are flagged up to prospective students when researching all undergraduate and postgraduate taught study programmes. Professor Stefan Bouzarovski has called for a National Energy Advice Service to address both fuel poverty and the transition to net zero. We’re developing breakthrough technology for quantifying recycled content in plastics and packaging. Our Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIOIR) and Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) have undertaken a study analysing international best practice of sustainability policymaking in city-regions.  And the University has become a founding member of a new United Nations’ programme to reverse biodiversity decline. 

Finally, on cultural engagement, the John Ryland Library and Research Institute has launched a new exhibition Transitions in Print revealing secrets of the European printing revolution. Manchester Museum has held a major civic event for colleagues, community sector organisations, councillors, MPs, Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority officials, NHS, and Greater Manchester Police representatives ahead of its re-opening on 18 February. And in partnership with Manchester City of Literature, Creative Manchester are delighted to present a number of events celebrating UNESCO International Mother Language Day (IMLD) 2023 at the end of February.  

Whether it’s an exhibition, conference, lecture, or performance there’s a range of exciting events coming up at The University of Manchester for staff, students and the general public. We hope to see you at some of these soon. If you’re a student make sure to get involved in Student Volunteering Week. Be sure to enter the University’s Sustainability Challenge Photography Competition. And don’t forget, this year’s Volunteer of the Year Awards are now open for nominations. Make a nomination before Monday, 6 March. 

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility