Our monthly round-up

Wed, 26 May 2021 10:17:00 BST

April and May have been a time of celebration for all things social responsibility. We were delighted to be ranked top, from more than 1,200 universities around the world, for our work towards the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. We have also celebrated our annual ‘greatest hits’ of social responsibility with our Making a Difference Awards, hosted these live on YouTube from our Manchester Museum, where Chancellor Lemn Sissay and I recognised 17 winners, 25 highly commended and six Covid special recognition awards. We also announced plans, as a set of five universities in Greater Manchester, to work together on a joint Civic University Agreement by publishing new polling data from 1,000 local residents across all ten authorities, regarding what they value and understand about the work of their local universities.

On social inclusion, our widening participation Gateways programme leads by example through providing virtual sessions throughout the pandemic. Approximately 550 learners have attended their online events, with over 57 sessions so far, and more still to come. A team of our University PhD researchers are working with She Leads for Legacy and Breaking the Glass consultancy to understand the barriers faced by Black Women Professionals in career progression. Our Law students are working with Manchester Innocence Project to overturn Miscarriages of Justice. Professor Jackie Carter has been recognised as one of UK’s leading female data science professionals, acknowledging her technical knowledge and experience, as well as her commitment to encouraging more diverse representation in the data industry.

On better health, we co-hosted the 5th East African Health Summit as an online event, attracting over 200 global participants to discuss current healthcare challenges and how resilient healthcare systems can be created for the benefit of all. We’ve received one of the largest investments to date in the European medical nanotechnology industry. A collaboration between our Nanomedicine Lab and two Barcelona institutions has resulted in a spin-out brain implant firm securing £12million in funding to develop graphene-led solutions to treat brain disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s. And the University’s annual School Governor’s conference was held as a two-day online event, with wellbeing and mental health in schools as one of the main themes explored this year.

On environmental sustainability, new research by our experts at the University has found that poor management of untreated wastewater and raw sewage by water companies is the main source of microplastic pollution in the UK's rivers. The Kindling Trust are establishing a pioneering agroforestry farm, owned by its community, as a blueprint for ecological farming in the Northwest. Our Sustainable Consumption Institute director, Frank Boons, has been working alongside a team of academics and civil servants to develop approaches to deliver more systems-based policies in areas ranging from food waste, air quality and land use, to sustainable and healthy diets.

And on cultural engagement, we have of course been celebrating the re-opening of our Manchester Museum, the Whitworth and Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, with the John Rylands Library following suit on June 24. Our University’s China Centre celebrated its fifth annual social responsibility month with a range of exciting public engagement activities to positively impact alumni, local communities and broader society, in the unique Manchester spirit. And the John Rylands Institute and Library have been engaging the public with a brand new digital exhibition exploring The Guardian at 200, celebrating and documenting the origins of this newspaper as The Manchester Guardian in our city.

As we cautiously lift restrictions across society why not book to visit one of our cultural institutions or attend an online event seek inspiration and connection through our wide programme of events. For example, our annual Community Festival returns Friday 18 – Sunday 20 June 2021 where we’re teaming up with Manchester Museum, the Whitworth, John Rylands Library and staff and students from across the University to create a series of fun and exciting digital events aimed at families, schools and local communities.

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility