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Engagement and Place Awards

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Engagement and Place Awards

This year we launched our first Engagement and Place Awards to recognise and celebrate great examples of collaboration between the University and our partners and publics.

Inaugural Engagement and Place Awards Ceremony

We've honoured projects displaying the diverse ways University colleagues work with external partners and communities.

Our first ever Engagement and Place Awards were hosted by:

  • Professor Chris Day, Vice Chancellor and President
  • Professor Jane Robinson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Place

The awards recognise many innovative collaborations between the University and its external partners. These bring value to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing in our city, region and across the globe.

Watch our inaugural Engagement and Place Awards ceremony.

Outstanding projects nominated across six categories

The categories for the awards are aligned to the six themes of our Engagement and Place Strategy:

We received an overwhelming response to the call for nominations and the calibre of the projects was outstanding. This made the task of shortlisting for our panel of eight judges extremely difficult.

However the difficult deliberations have now come to an end and we can announce the following three shortlisted projects in each category. ​

Engaging for Societal Benefit

Young Person's Advisory Group North England (YPAG NE) in PERFORM

The PERFORM study aims to develop new molecular diagnostic tests for childhood fevers. It helps to differentiate the cause of fevers and identify which children are at risk of serious invasive infections. The study undertook a four-year collaborative project with the Young Person’s Advisory Group North East (YPAG-ne). They explored children and young people’s consent in healthcare research. This study, from inception, has consulted and listened to the experiences and beliefs of children and their families. This has happened through making films and designing consent processes and educational resources.

Improving public understanding about Islamophobia across politics, education and journalism

This project has informed public understanding about Islamophobia. This has happened through meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with external partners. They are working in education, faith-based organisations, government and the media. This research has contributed to establishment of a Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Tackling Islamophobia in the Scottish Parliament. It has informed the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims definition of Islamophobia. Moreover, through the CPG, media guidelines for journalists on reporting on Islam and Muslims were produced. Through this research and engagement work, more than 50,000 educators are now equipped to tackle anti-Muslim prejudice.

Is Universal Credit a public health issue? Using creative methods to inform, disseminate and debate

This project used collaborative and creative methods to disseminate research findings. The findings looked at impacts of the UK government’s key change to social security, Universal Credit. Researchers collaborated with theatre company Cap-a-Pie to create a theatre performance. It disseminated research about the impact of Universal Credit to frontline practitioners and the public. It informed and enriched public discourse about Universal Credit through education and debate. The play, ‘Credit’ by Laura Lindow, was completed in March 2020. Four live performances were scheduled for April 2020, each with an expert panel for a post-show discussion. All shows sold out in days, but had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. In September 2020 an extract of ‘Credit’ was streamed twice followed by two live Q&As with distinguished expert panels.

Engaging for Cultural Benefit

Testing Ground

Testing Ground is a unique programme of architectural design-build research. It's grounded in place-based inquiry and stakeholder engagement. Since 2013 the programme has collaborated with many external partners. It explores synergies between design practice, pedagogy, public engagement and academic research. Testing Ground explores expanded methods for co-producing environmental knowledge. It's grounded in understanding sustainable design should seek the knowledge of varied local actors who have latent abilities to imagine and re-imagine how technologies, buildings and spaces operate sustainably within a specific context. This innovative experimental practice-based research has contributed to environmental and social sustainability initiatives in rural Northumberland. Co-production of a series of award-winning design-build artefacts has enhanced public understanding and education through new facilities, resources, community involvement and participatory research and engagement.

Dippy on Tour

Between the 18th May and 6th October 2019, the Great North Museum: Hancock welcomed Dippy on Tour to Newcastle. Dippy came to Newcastle to learn about the past, present and future of climate change. It became an accessible gateway to explore extinction and biodiversity loss, climate change, food and energy sustainability and local nature. The project worked with seven research groups and 75 academics. They created a show-stopping exhibition with cutting edge university research at its heart. Dippy welcomed 304, 928 visitors. It created an accessible experience that attracted a high percentage of people with low cultural engagement. It provided engaging learning experiences for 10,355 school children from 209 schools. Dippy entertained 14,851 people through a supporting events programme and worked with 61 volunteers.

Stories from the Frontier: Changing Heritage Practice and Visitor Experience through Gameplay

This innovative and cross-disciplinary project has had considerable impact on education, the heritage sector, and the outreach work of the video gaming industry. Since 2016, researchers have worked with the Vindolanda Trust to produce a digital mystery game. It engages school children and the general public with the past at Roman Vindolanda. The game offers an immersive environment in which users can learn about Vindolanda’s history. They can look at the diverse group of people who lived and worked by the wall. It offers a virtual experience to exploring the past, that can be played on or off site. The game both supports online learning and addresses key challenges faced by heritage sites.

Engaging with Policy and Practice

Friends of the Earth & Environmental Justice Network Ireland

The Environmental Justice Network Ireland (EJNI) was founded in 2019. It's made up of project partners from the NGO, legal, activist and academic community. EJNI supports communities and individuals. It helps them engage in promoting environmental justice. It aids them in challenging environmental injustice in Ireland and at EU level. EJNI has hosted workshops and webinars. They facilitate knowledge exchange, participation and networking. They promote collaboration between a broad range of stakeholder groups. The resulting co-produced research has been presented to the Ministers from NI, the ROI and MEPs from across Europe. This has provided communities and activists with a platform. Their campaigns can be located within broader governance and academic debates.

The Paediatric Musculoskeletal Matters (PPM) e-portfolio

Musculoskeletal presentations in children are common. They are a frequent cause of health care consultations in primary care. Many causes of MSK complaints are self-limiting but can also include serious conditions. Clinicians working in the community play a crucial role to suspect MSK disease and start specialist referral. General Practioners are often the ‘gatekeepers’ to specialist services. Unfortunately, many training schemes for GPs do not include paediatrics or MSK medicine. With these challenges in mind, the project developed a portfolio of e-resources (the PMM Portfolio). All the e-resources are free, evidence based and peer reviewed with user engagement to inform consent and design. The PMM Portfolio is fulfilling an important role. It reaches many target groups across the world who are integral to the early diagnosis and to instigate the care pathways in a community.

Co-development of the UK National Wastewater-based Epidemiology Surveillance Network

Early in 2020, Newcastle researchers found SARS-CoV-2 RNA fragments (Covid-19 virus) in sewage. These result from human shedding in faecal matter. Measuring RNA virus in such wastewater is tricky. But the Newcastle team developed new methods for quantification. This contributed to a rapid, inexpensive way of quantifying Covid-19 cases across communities. This included symptomatic and asymptomatic infections. Local work radiated around the world. The Graham Group at Newcastle has become an international leader in “Wastewater-based Epidemiology” (WBE). The group's scientific contributions have been significant. Their engagement and policy guidance impact may be greater. Extensive engagement with industrial partners, especially Northumbrian Water Ltd, and local and international policymakers has provided science-informed guidance on Covid-19 mass prevalence. It provided a broader value of WBE as a key part of future national and international health protection planning.

Engaging for Economic Benefit

BEWISe ( Biological Engineering: Wastewater Innovation at Scale)

BEWISe (Biological Engineering: Wastewater Innovation at Scale) is located in a formerly dilapidated and unused building at Birtley sewage treatment work. BEWISe will accelerate innovations in wastewater treatment. It will experiment with low-energy biological treatment technologies. It will develop low-cost ways to generate energy from waste. The project's intention is to develop a state-of-the-art, revolutionary technologies. These are not only for the region, but for worldwide. This project is a shared vision between Northumbrian Water and Newcastle University. It places innovation and engagement at the centre of success to achieve our common goals. It integrates the two organisations in a way that goes beyond standard university-industry in-kind support.

Exploring the benefits of wigs for hair loss to individuals’ wellbeing and lifestyle

The Wonderful Wig Company (WWC), a North-East based SME, was founded in 2016 following the director’s own cancer diagnosis. WWC approached Newcastle University’s Arrow programme with a project brief to investigate the positive outcomes that a wig can provide for individuals who have lost their hair fully or partially due medical or non-medical issues. In particular, the aim of the research was to understand and measure the specific benefits that a wig brings to a person’s well-being and how it can improve their lifestyle once hair loss has started. The findings from the research are being used by WWC to communicate better to potential clients and other parties the benefits of a well-styled wig for hair loss. They will also help raise awareness about additional support (e.g. emotional, financial) individuals might need.

Unpacking the Archive

This project was a collaboration between Dr Hazel Sheeky-Bird, a Research Associate in the Children’s Literature Unit, and Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books’, Creative Learning and Engagement and Exhibitions teams. ‘Unpacking the Archive’ is deeply rooted in collaboration. Initial discussions highlighted strategic priorities that Seven Stories needed help to achieve. They included engaging with new, diverse audiences of young people from its doorstep communities of Byker and Walker. They also included developing Seven Stories' first specific archival engagement programme for young people. This was based on its nationally important children’s literature collection. They also sought to build capacity to responsibly support the positive wellbeing of young people.

Engaging Globally

Gender Inclusivity in Peace and Security

In 2000, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was adopted. Peace and security institutions have since been obliged to integrate a gender perspective into their work. 20 years later, this project addresses the remaining practical challenges to achieve that goal. The overarching aim of this project was to fill an existing gap. We wanted to co-produce practical research of use for those in peace and security field operations and institutions across the globe. To achieve this aim the project has created a best practice guide, three YouTube videos, a project website, and a launch event. Integral to the success of this project has been a strong relationship between a range of different actors. That's from the grassroots level to representatives from national, regional and international organisations across the world. This has resulted in high-quality co-produced research of use to practitioners and policy makers.

Colours of the Alphabet - Feature documentary film African release and impact campaign

At the heart of this project is the feature length documentary film Colours of the Alphabet (2016). It's directed by Dr Alastair Cole and explores language and childhood. It follows three children and their families over their first year of school in rural Zambia. It asks, does the future have to be in English? The multifaceted project fostered extensive global engagement. There was an AfriDocs supported 50-country African impact release of the film. This included its translation into 28 indigenous African languages. There was a continent-wide social media engagement campaign. The release included training of new indigenous language subtitlers. This led to creation of the first African Film Translation Network. The project was viewed more than 200,000 times in Africa, and screened at the UN in Geneva. It created a context for the film to have a unique role in supporting the issue it documented. It created further networks of engagement within and across language communities in Africa.

4 all causes community map: matching between volunteers and community needs

Lebanon has suffered political instability, conflict, economic collapse and declining living conditions. Primary healthcare suffers from weakened infrastructure and governance. There are shortages in medication and medical supplies and food security is deteriorating. Covid-19 and the Beirut Port explosion have exacerbated things. Sara Armouch’s PhD surfaces social innovation in service delivery within certain Lebanese civic youth-led organisations. It supports in structuring and propagating it through offline and digital mediums. ‘4 all Causes’ is an organisation of young public health volunteers. They provide support to marginalised communities in Lebanon. Through Participatory Action Research (PAR), the project created ‘Make Place', an off-the-shelf mapping platform developed at Open Lab. The purpose is to match between volunteers and community needs within their vicinity. Through WhatsApp, the project coordinates a network between volunteers, directing them to community needs.

Access and Participation (Inclusive Education)

Improved Education for Roma Pupils

Roma communities face persistent social and educational exclusion across Europe. Roma pupils consistently underachieve in terms of education outcomes. In England, only 3% of those Roma boys who are entitled to free school meals attend University. ROMtels (Roma Translanguaging Enquiry Learning Space) is a series of engagement and research projects. They aim to improve the educational experience for Roma pupils across Europe. They employ an inclusive pedagogy called translanguaging. This enables pupils to draw on all of their languages in the pursuit of learning.

Institute of Coding at Newcastle University: Digitally Upskilling the North East

The Institute of Coding has always worked in collaboration both with colleagues across the University and external partners. Through its degree apprenticeship and continued professional development offer the Institute aims to work closely with regional industries and businesses. We help address their needs and be an effective partner for the NHS. The Institute has worked extensively with regional businesses to understand their needs and develop tailored learning opportunities.

Later Life Audio and Radio Co-operative

The Later Life Audio and Radio Co-operative (LLARC) is a direct outcome of an interdisciplinary PhD project. It involved a programme of participatory action research. This focused on facilitating civic participation in later life. It was developed from an initial collaboration in Newcastle. But it has the potential to become an international initiative. LLARC has rapidly evolved into a UK-wide network of older content creators, age-inclusive radio stations, third sector organisations, local authorities and academic researchers working on age-related issues. LLARC showcases diverse talk-based audio content created by older adults. It advocates for greater representation of older adults in public debates about ageing societies.