January round-up

Thankfully, January has seen rates of omicron transmission reduce significantly and we’re all looking forward to our campus returning to life for our second semester after January’s examinations. Thanks to everyone who entered or nominated someone for our 2022 Making a Difference Awards. The number of entries we received (which are in line with anything pre-pandemic) is testament to the commitment and engagement of our University community with our social responsibility agenda.

On social inclusion, a new report co-published by our Sustainable Consumption Institute’s Dr Luke Yates for Greater Manchester Housing Action and Greater Manchester Tenants Union has raised concerns about the proliferation of Airbnb and other short-term letting platforms (STLs) in the city and its effects on local residents. The Global University Social Responsibility MOOC, which our University partnered with six other universities to help contribute to, has been relaunched for 2022. And our tradition of celebrating our diverse communities is brought to life by our engagement with our celebration of LGBT+ History Month throughout February.

On better health, our Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health hosted the seventh Irene Manton Lecture in December. Guest speaker Dr Kat Coyte, highlighted how we can combine mathematics, big data and simple experiments to understand, and perhaps even manipulate, our own microbial communities, through her talk ‘Worlds within our Guts’ which is available to watch online. Since the pandemic, we have seen necessary increases in some plastic usage across the University in order to protect our staff and students. However, we’re pleased to partner with Reworked to recycle and repurpose our single-use face masks into useful materials. And in January our partnership with the Manchester Evening News to feature the contributions of our graduates to civic life saw us profile the inspiring work of nursing graduate Adam Mellor.

On environmental sustainability, we’re delighted to have launched Sustainable Futures, which brings together the depth and breadth of our internationally-leading research that is providing integrated and sustainable solutions to the most urgent environmental challenges. We’ve launched a new 360-degree tour our botanical gardens to engage people with the environmental work going on inside. Our University College for Interdisciplinary Learning has launched the first postgraduate unit addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. A group of our student volunteers have planted over 100 trees in a bid to help fight the planet’s climate and biodiversity crises. And our Department of Geography’s research has been used in UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee’s report on poor water quality in English rivers.

On cultural engagement, we’re supporting the Creative Sparks #MadeAtUni campaign which celebrates the immense contribution UK universities to the creative industries. Our Manchester Museum’s Indigenise Speaker Series returned this January with a talk from the Museum’s new Curator of Living Cultures. The first ever museum sector-specific Carbon Literacy toolkit was launched in January. We have been planning how we’ll be supporting the upcoming Manchester Histories 2022 Festival. Our Ethical Grand Challenges annual photo competition has returned, with the launch of the very first Sustainability Challenge Photography Competition. And if you’ve ever wanted to find out more about our staff, students and community partners and what inspires them to make a difference, check out our “Meet the…” films, produced for our 2021 Community Festival.

There are lots of activities and events coming up that you can get involved in. Students and community organisations are planning for Student Volunteering Week from 7–13 February, with a jam-packed schedule of volunteering events and activities to celebrate student volunteering in all its glory. Our annual Volunteer of the Year Awards are open, so whether you are inside or outside the University you can help recognise the great work of staff, students, and alumni by nominating someone before 6 March. And why not visit our events pages where you can find out how to attend activities such as our Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition, our Annual Holocaust Lecture, or how to visit our Whitworth gallery to see the UK’s first presentation of pioneering US artist Suzanne Lacy which asks ‘What kind of city?’ can we make together post-covid.

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility