June/July round up

Here’s our last round-up of the academic year before some in the Office for Social Responsibility take a deserved break in August.

On 10 June we welcomed around 2,500 people from our local and wider communities onto campus for our seventh annual Community Festival. At this free annual event we opened our doors to the public to come inside and find out all about our research, learning and cultural work. The day offered opportunities for our staff, students, and community partners to engage with our visitors through more than 60 interactive activities and inspiring conversations across science, art, engineering, and history. And we have been delighted to launch Our Sustainable Future, our ambitious new environmental sustainability strategy that sets out what we will do to protect and enhance our environment for staff, students, and future generations over the next five-years.

Now to our five priorities – social inclusion, prosperous communities, better health, environmental sustainability and cultural engagement.

On social inclusion, our Great Science Share for Schools campaign engaged a record 500,000 primary and secondary school students around the world, where pupils explored their scientific curiosity, asked questions, and participated in experiments. The campaign, now in its eighth year, elevates the importance of science in classrooms and inspires young minds towards science and engineering. The Manchester Innocence Project welcomed Attorney and Professor Justin Brooks for a thought-provoking lecture on the Power of the Innocence Project, as part of the promotion of his new book ‘You might Go To Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent’. During his lecture Professor Brooks reflected on the prevalence of miscarriages of justice and emphasised the significance of the work undertaken by members of the Innocence Network worldwide. And Tom Fryer, a PhD student from the University’s Institute of Education, developed Write on Point, a project which aims to widen participation to university.

On prosperous communities, a senior figure within the government’s Levelling Up department, Ed Whiting, has been appointed an Honorary Professor at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS). He is taking up the role within the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research and is currently a Director within the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities where he helps the public sector engage with the key levelling up goals of raising economic growth and living standards across the UK regions. Two game-changing social entrepreneurs joined our Masood Entrepreneurship Centre’s Social Enterprise Discovery Bootcamp that are helping to drive social change, innovation, inclusivity and solidarity. And in AMBS’ summer magazine we spotlight the growing links between business and academia in the field of AI, as well as exploring the complex ethical challenges that AI presents.

On better health, we have collaborated on Don’t Brush it Under the Carpet, a campaign improving mental wellbeing and raising awareness of self-harm as an issue for older people in Greater Manchester. Our researchers have been collaborating with Black Beetle Health, a community public health organization, to produce a new report Collaboration for Change: Exploring Effective Collaboration between Academics and Community Organizations. Our Faculty of Biology, Medicine, and Health hosted its second ‘Talking Science’ competition, giving our students the opportunity to share their ‘Big Idea’ on how science can contribute to a healthier, fairer, and greener world. And it has been another successful year for our Heart Heroes, who achieved second place in the Volunteer of the Year Student Groups category, showcasing their remarkable performance and dedication. The Heart Heroes project recruits and trains a team of student volunteers to deliver Basic Life Support (BLS) skills training to groups of students, staff, and external community members.

On environmental sustainability, our staff have leapfrogged Trafford Council to clinch top place in Bike Month Challenge, the regional cycling challenge aiming to improve workplace sustainable commuting. Our Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) has researched the link between animal agriculture, biosafety and nature conservation to suggest how the future of land use could look. Maretório, a project created by Nick Weise in our Faculty of Science and Engineering, is making space to facilitate meaningful communication about climate change for those vulnerable, coastal communities in Brazil who may be most affected by it. And our researchers have been discussing the environmental impact of UK’s broken recycling system, sharing our research to emphasize the need for a simpler and more consistent system, improved guidelines, simplified packaging, and increased awareness to create an environmentally conscious society.

Finally, on cultural engagement, we’ve been a proud supporter of a number of Manchester International Festival (MIF) events, which runs until 16 July 2023. We organised a Low Carbon Chinatown event at Manchester Museum, bringing together food, data science and community participation to explore creative ways of responding to the climate crisis. We are excited to announce ways we will enrich and transform the researcher and visitor experience through our John Rylands Next Chapter project – a £7.6 million capital investment to transform our exhibition spaces, create a state-of-the-art Advanced Imaging Laboratory, enhance facilities to host academic and public events, and much more.

Over the summer you can come along to a wide range of university events, seminars, performances, talks and exhibitions. And if you want to experience up to four unique days of music, science and cosmic culture at our iconic Jodrell Bank site, you can still bag bluedot tickets for 20, 21, 22 and 23 of July. I’m currently praying for favourable British weather!

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility