Our Civic University

October 16th, 2019

The Civic and Regional Committee was set up last year as a UEB sub-committee and has been chaired by Professor Kevin Shakesheff as it sets about helping the University in this important and expanding area.

Interactions across the University demonstrate that many staff and students are engaged in outstanding civic collaborations with a diverse range of local groups. There are many ‘bottom-up’ projects where the University community has initiated projects that impact on the lives of citizens in the City of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands region.

The committee is now looking to learn about as many projects as possible that impact on any aspect of lives of local people and has already heard about activities that supports the arts, local business groups, health care, education and many more. If you would like to share your own work, then please contact the Global and Political Affairs Unit with a short summary and they will be back in touch to learn more – and potentially include as a case study as part of the Universities for Nottingham campaign.

The committee is working with the Institute for Policy and Engagement to try to develop a network of academics whose research or research-impact is particularly focused on the local or regional. If you would be interested in being part of this network, then please email rachael.pearson@nottingham.ac.uk.

Some highlights of the University’s civic engagement from the past academic year have included:

Universities for Nottingham

Universities for Nottingham is a sector-leading initiative being developed by the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University to transform the way both institutions work together to deliver civic good. Together, both universities aim to develop a portfolio of joint economic, social and cultural activity that makes the most of their ability to deliver transformative change for the people and place of Nottingham. The initiative began earlier this year with a joint economic, impact and social impact study, a major stakeholder engagement and communications programme, as well as a complementary-mapping exercise that looked at where both universities have the potential to align activity and improve what we do civically. The intention is to ‘launch’ Universities for Nottingham on Monday 20 January 2020 – promoting civic impact, announcing a range of new joint civic initiatives and using this as the basis of a major consultation exercise with local partners to develop a formal Civic University Agreement by July 2020.

Ingenuity 19

This year, for the first time, Ingenuity was able to extend its world class programme of entrepreneurial development opportunities across the city and the region.  The 500+ innovators came from across a broad range of industry, public and community groups adding value and creating dynamic collaborations between students and researchers at UoN as well as six other universities.  £150,000 of prize funds were awarded to local charities as well as projects that will create sustainable opportunity for Nottingham, such as enterprises building stronger families or helping the homeless. Culminating in an awards dinner at St Mary’s Church in April, Ingenuity 19 showcased how in partnership the capacity and resources of UoN can create impact for the city through enterprise.


The University held Wonder 2019 on Saturday 15 June, which attracted over 5,000 visitors, with just over 26% of the visitors’ postcodes classed as Widening Participation areas.  The event included 100 exhibits supported by approximately 500 members of academic/departmental staff and students and cost £20,945.91 (2017’s Wonder cost £122,066).  Audience response was positive with respondents to surveys stating they had enjoyed the event. When asked whether they would recommend attending Wonder in the future, nearly all were very likely (64%) or likely (34%) to do so. One in three (32%) agreed their visit to the event had changed their view of the University. Staff response was positive too with consistently open lines of communication between organisers and activity leads.

Festival of Science and Curiosity

University of Nottingham staff and students have made a huge contribution to the festival since it began five years ago with an aim of taking STEM out of the lab and into the everyday lives of Nottingham’s citizens, and especially into parts of the city where people don’t regularly engage with science. As well as being involved in the planning of the festival itself, University staff delivered interactive activities about mathematics, psychology, microbes and chemistry at highly attended events across the city centre and community libraries, worked on projects in primary schools about plant pathology, neuroscience and physics, and organised talks in informal settings for adults about driverless vehicles and archaeal genetics.

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