Written by Ellen Logan, Projects Officer, SEED (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On 19th October SEED held its annual Social Responsibility Lecture, focusing on ‘BME experiences in higher education: inclusion, equity and social justice’ by Professor Kalwant Bhopal, Professor of Education and Social Justice and Professorial Research Fellow in the Centre for Research in Race and Education in the School of Education, University of Birmingham. Kalwant used her research to discuss BME experiences in higher education, as well as institutional racism and the changes we need to move towards a more equal system: ‘[the] Social justice agenda must be at the heart of our education system’. As part of SEED’s commitment to equality and diversity and women into leadership, Kalwant also informally met with female colleagues over tea, where she discussed her career path and trajectory.
The evening also served as a showcase for other SEED Social Responsibility work. Manchester Urban Institute displayed their recently launched ‘Stories from the Road’; a collection of experiences reflecting the impact of a rapidly changing part of the city – Manchester Oxford Road. The area surrounding Manchester Oxford Road is home to a vast number of institutions and organisations, bringing together thousands of people from diverse backgrounds. The Stories from the Road contributors provide a fascinating insight into the varied experiences of people whose lives are affected by this area of Manchester.
Dr Sarah Marie Hall exhibited her research exploring the impact of austerity on everyday family life – The Everyday Austerity Project. The research was carried out between 2013 and 2015, in response to public spending cuts made by the UK government. It involved in-depth ethnographic research with families and communities in Greater Manchester, with a focus on family, friendship and intimate relationships; gender relations, class and inter-generationality; everyday consumption practices and decision-making; and methods for researching ’the everyday’ and austere experiences.
The Old Abbey Taphouse received funding from SEED’s Big Block of Cheese – a pot of funding for projects that will have a positive impact – and Craig Thomas had a stand at the event to showcase some of these projects. They have built outdoor planters with the funding and children from local schools help them grow herbs and vegetables, which are then used in the kitchen. They have purchased two electric bikes for pizza delivery, to encourage a move toward electric vehicles and bikes. The space is also used for research seminars and presentations (and dinner and drinks afterwards), as well as live music and entertainment, connecting the university with businesses on the Science Park, and the local community.
The Geography Department brought along a pared down version of the exhibit they took to the Bluedot festival over the summer – The Day After Tomorrow – Living in the Anthropocene. Tom Bishop showed visitors some of the tiny fossils used to define the Anthropocene, Abi Stone talked about how they exploit sand as a natural resource, and Gareth Clay demonstrated how peatlands store and release carbon. Jana Wendler and Emma Shuttleworth ran a version of Downpour!, a street game that draws on Emma’s research on flood mitigation.
Lecturer in Planning and Environmental Management, Dr Joanne Tippett displayed RoundView at the evening, research that explores an accessible and positive approach to sustainability. Joanne has found that offering guidelines for what a sustainable future might look like, rather than focusing on problems, leads to greater motivation and capacity for action. Working with the Great Manchester Wetlands Partnership, she has used RoundView to interpret the landscape in an innovative way.
To celebrate the ten year anniversary of the University of Manchester’s Equity and Merit Scholarship, a scholarship that a number of SEED students have been recipients of, there was also a display providing information about the scholarship and the positive impact it has on students and the communities in their home countries.
With over 100 attendees from across and beyond the university, the evening demonstrated the positive impact SEED has within the university and throughout the local community. With thought-provoking discussion following Kalwant’s lecture, and positive feedback and comments from those who attended, the event was a great success. An enormous thank you goes out to everyone who participated in the event and to those who attended.