November round-up

Julian SkyrmeIn recognition of the significant challenges faced by students over rising costs, the University is dedicating £9million to providing further student support, building on an initial programme of wellbeing and financial assistance provided together with the Students’ Union. This follows our announcement of an additional £1,000 cost-of-living payment made to all staff earning up to £71,644. And as you may know, it’s that time of year again where we launch our annual Making a Difference Awards for social responsibility. If you are, or know someone who, is making a positive contribution to society and/or the environment, then please enter one of our eight categories. 

On social inclusion, University of Manchester research has found that students from working-class backgrounds can only make the decision to go to university if they develop a ‘sense of opportunity’ at school. A new collaboration between University researchers and Black Beetle Health will build community research and improve the wellbeing of Black LGBT+ people. The Manchester China Institute has teamed up with the Manchester China Forum (MCF) and the University’s International Office to help enhance social inclusion on campus. And applications for our flagship widening participation programme, Manchester Access Programme, are now open. Congratulations to Professor David Gadd who is a finalist in the prestigious Celebrating Impact Prize award for his ‘From Boys to Men’ project, whose findings have contributed to Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s 10-year strategy to tackle gender-based violence. We’re part of a joint campaign, Never OK, working with Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford, to promote an environment and culture where sexual harassment or violence is never tolerated. And our strategic staff-volunteering partners, Governors for Schools, are running an online information event for staff from universities across the North of England to find out more about becoming a school governor. 

On prosperous communities, earlier this month we held our first Grewater Manchester Citizens’ Panel. 50 people from all walks of life, selected to represent the communities across Greater Manchester, will now work with the Greater Manchester Civic University Board to ensure that its work is rooted in the public’s priorities, goals and concerns over an initial two-year period. We also reflect on Manchester Day of Action, our global alumni volunteering programme, looking back at how alumni have made a positive difference to the places where they live.  

On better health, as part of this year’s trip to Field Studies Council Castlehead, local school students were given a chance to conduct their own field and lab experiments while hearing from and engaging with students, researchers and clinicians in our Faculty of Biology Medicine and Health. We’re hosting Living in a Material World, a free exhibition which invites people to consider how materials have shaped medicine and healthcare, from the 19th century to the present day. And we are delighted to welcome back The Linnean Society for the 2022 Irene Manton lecture which will take place on 8 December. 

On environmental sustainability, we are making changes aimed at addressing travel emissions as part of our Environmental Sustainability Strategy. During this year’s ESRC Festival of Social Science our Sustainable Consumption Institute we held a highly successful event ‘Mangoes, meat and motors: confronting the climate on Manchester’s Curry Mile’. Lecturer in Climate Change and Health, Dr Stephanie Sodero, just published her first book, Under the Weather: Reimagining Mobility in the Climate Crisis. Manchester University Press are using audiobooks to help promote sustainable consumption. The Sustainable Forest Transitions project is recruiting three full-time PhD students at our Global Development Institute to help develop solutions to the sustainable development of forests in the Global South. Our researchers are investigating the housing and construction sector’s key role in net-zero challenges. And the University came in the top 5 for Love to Ride’s Cycle September competition, with over 2 tons of CO2 avoided by cycling instead of driving. 

Finally on cultural engagement, we’re really excited that Manchester Museum will reopen to the public on 18 February 2023 following the ‘hello future’ redevelopment project. This has given us an unprecedented opportunity to expand the role, reach and inclusivity of this prized cultural institution. Read all about what is in store across our new Belonging Gallery, Chinese Culture Gallery, South Asian Gallery, Future of Education top-floor and prayer room, which has been carefully co-designed with museum staff partners. We share the personal stories behind those involved in public engagement at the University. And our annual ScienceX festival returned for two days on the 28 & 29 October at Manchester Central Library, exploring science and engineering through interactions and conversations with families from Greater Manchester and beyond.    

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. Don’t forget, our Making a Difference Awards 2023 – are now open! Be sure to enter or nominate by 16 January 2023. 

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility