Engaging the past, present and future

26 April 2013

Engaging the past, present and future

Gill Scott, Yvonne Stewart and Tara Gibb.

Staff, students and members of the local community came together for an inspiring afternoon at the ‘GCU is Getting Engaged’ showcase. 

Organised by the Community and Public Engagement (CPE) Steering Group, which is led by Professor Karen Stanton, the lively event showcased some of the excellent work currently underway throughout the University, and invited delegates to input into areas for future collaboration and development.

Thought-provoking presentations were made by GCU experts. eMotionLab Director Dr Jon Sykes talked about the Jammin' for Small Change project – which saw computer games for young carers being developed in only 24 hours. Historian Dr Karly Kehoe discussed her on-going research into slavery in the Highlands, which has involved community groups, amateur historians, students and school pupils, and CPE Fellow and engineer Dr Anita Meldrum presented consultancy work on a project which provides clean water for communities in Africa. Three workshops offered participants an opportunity to input into GCU’s CPE agenda.

CPE Fellows Karen Roome and Dr Morag Ferguson led a session on putting CPE on the wider GCU agenda, whilst Knowledge Transfer Partnership Manager Dr Janette Wark looked at Maximising Business Engagement. University archivist Carole McCallum and CPE coordinator Susan Gran encouraged participants – young and old – to share their memories and experiences of the local area as part of the forthcoming Caledonian Community Archives project.

Between talks and workshops, there was the chance to view poster presentations by GCU academics, ranging from improving the wellbeing of dementia sufferers through football memories to the success of ‘shwopping’ - an example of sustainability in the fashion sector. Entries for the Garden at the Heart of the Campus were also on display, where GCU students were tasked with developing a new use for the Saltire Roof Garden.

David Parr (a fourth year Environmental Management and Planning student) took the top prize for his concept of an eco-friendly space where people can relax and enjoy their surroundings.  Tea and cakes were provided by Encore Hospitality, who made a donation to the charity Mary’s Meals.

At the event, guests were asked to share their community engagement expectations, with answers tweeted on GCU’s Twitter site.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • David Parr, of the Sustainable Glasgow Project, would like to see more engagement with sustainability as not enough people understand it.
  • Jessica Macdonald said universities are socially situated and it's important to give the public an awareness of research being done and impact on lives.
  • Tracey Howe, @cityofscience, thinks GCU should do more to get its good work out there so CoS can promote on a wider stage.
  • Yvonne Stewart from computer company Dell would like to receive more feedback on what GCU gets out of working with her company.
  • Tara Gibson from the Science Centre would like to see more of GCU's experts coming down to the centre to take part in events. GCU lecturer Andy Lowndes would like to see more volunteering from staff and students in community projects.
  • Sue Lavery would like to see GCU working harder to share skills, such as those in IT, which members of the public may not have.GCU student and Caledonian Club mentor Pamela Gray would like GCU to tell more people about the club's good work.