50 @ 50 is a special series of blog posts that will run throughout the course of 2015, the University of Warwick's 50th anniversary year. This series of posts will introduce you to 50 different Warwick people, all of whom have something interesting to say as we not only look back at what we’ve achieved in our relatively short time as a University, but also look forward and imagine what our future might look like. You’ll meet academics, students, alumni and administrative staff who will offer you a window on what life is like at the Times and Sunday Times’ University of the Year for 2015.
Want to contribute a post to our 50 @ 50 series? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the final blog post in our 50@50 series, the 50th project team look back on some of the highlights of our anniversary year.
Well, what a year! Our celebrations started way back in December 2014 when, after a year of planning, we started our celebrations with a launch dinner to say thank you to all those people who were pivotal in making the University what it is today.
Over the year many departments took the opportunity to celebrate in their own way with their own events, and we were astounded that there were over 50 additional activities on top of what we were organising. It was clear that departments had put in a lot of time and effort to ensure that their events were well organised and delivered to a really high standard, and we were impressed that they really embraced the central theme of the 50th anniversary - ‘Imagining the Future’.
Our GRPs also held a range of 50th anniversary events in five strategic locations across the world. An exciting programme of research-led events took place in Brussels, Hong Kong, Singapore, Venice and Washington focusing on 'Sustainable Futures'. You can find out more here>>
We held the first ever Warwick Music festival in May, where we worked collaboratively with the Arts Centre to put on a three day music festival. With the Arts Centre leading and the 50th team supporting, the music festival had cross-generational appeal. There was unique and exciting food and drink, alongside free performances and walk-about entertainers, drawing on the talents of local musicians. The Butterworth Hall played host to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Django Django (supported by Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and Joan Armatrading (supported by Lucy Anne Sale and Garfield Mayor).
The 50th anniversary provided a great opportunity for us to announce the University’s unique partnership with Cheltenham Festivals; a partnership that spanned across all four Cheltenham festivals (Literature, Music, Jazz and Science) and our Festival of the Imagination. You can read more about the partnership and all of the events here>>
We’ve had some great features on our website this year and, if you’ve not already checked them out we’d really recommend you take a look. This 50@50 blog has featured some fascinating alumni, academic and administrative staff and students, all of whom provide a bit of insight into ‘their’ Warwick and their thoughts for the future. The celebration poetry showcases the best talent at, or to come out of, the University and the count up to 50 series provides a snap shot of the last 50 years.
With a third of Warwick's alumni living outside the UK the alumni team wanted to make sure that they were as involved in celebrating Warwick's 50th anniversary as alumni in the UK. An International Alumni Week was held and countries were encouraged to hold their own celebrations alongside ours, countries as far afield as Luxembourg, Kenya, Mexico, Iraq and Canada all held celebrations.
Our highlight of the year was, without a doubt, the Festival of the Imagination. It was the first time the University had attempted anything like it and it was a huge success. The festival was two years in the planning and really hard work – but such good fun! We had the chance to work with lots of different teams across the University, all of whom helped to make the festival so fantastic.
We had 450+ volunteers (both staff and students), 50+ student performers and 110 speakers over 64 scheduled events and 30+ drop in activities. We welcomed 8,400 visitors and around 900 school children from 18 regional schools to campus over the two days.
The year has been a great experience for us all and we were privileged to be involved in so many ‘university firsts’ – the first Warwick Music Festival, the first International Alumni Week and the first Festival the Imagination (to name a few!) We hope to see events of this nature, which bring together the whole Warwick community and showcase the excellence research and people, continue in future years.
We want to end by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in celebrating the University’s 50th anniversary; whether that be attending events, holding your own activities or volunteering, you’ve really helped to make this year very special.
Here’s to the next 50 years!
Nicola, Emily and Christine
As our 50th year draws to a close, the anniversary project team - Nicola Hunt, Emily Little and Christine Fearn, from External Affairs - share their thoughts on what has been an unforgettable 12 months.
What was your overall experience of the year and being part of the 50th team?
Emily – The whole year from start to finish was an amazing thing to be part of. The variety of projects and events we covered from December 2014 onwards really meant there was consistently a lot of energy and creativity in the team and we thrived on the challenges. Looking back now the inevitable stress of putting on such high profile and public facing events was worth it and the laughter and support I got from the whole team carried us through and bonded us into a strong team.
I enjoyed coming up with the ‘light bulb’ visual identity with its vibrant colour scheme and then seeing it used in so many creative and imaginative ways throughout the year – from the giant billboard outside NAIC, the flowerbed outside the MRC, on dinner invitations, on aprons, on flags made by the international alumni for their reunions and even printed onto edible rice paper as part of a dessert (thanks to Graham Crump!).
Christine – My overall experience was very positive. The 50th team was really small so we all had the opportunity to get involved in every aspect of the planning and delivery of the celebration. It was great to be able to showcase some of the excellent work being done in academic departments at the festival, whether that be through the engaging talks and debates or the hands-on interaction in the Discovery Zone. I also really enjoyed hearing what departments around the University and our alumni were doing to celebrate. They really embraced the ‘Imagining the Future’ theme and held some great events.
Nicola – It’s been great! For me this project began in September 2013, and from then onwards it gathered pace to all but sweep the rest of my normal job aside. I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to be involved in something so wide-ranging and ambitious. We set out to celebrate the 50th in a very forward-looking way (it would have been easy to wallow in nostalgia!) and I think we’ve managed to strike the right balance, and done it in a very Warwick way. The 50th team quickly developed into a strong team, and I’m proud of what the team achieved this year, especially as there were only three of us!
What was your best moment of the year?
Emily – So many to mention... From being proud to hear the poetic voices of the young IGGY members and their student mentors carried across a spellbound Butterworth Hall at the Gala Dinner, to seeing the smiling, lit up faces of the first group of the 900 year 6 schoolchildren that entered the Discovery Zone with ‘wows’ and ‘cool’ on the schools' day of the Festival of the Imagination.
From working with and meeting some fantastic people, including alumni Torin Douglas and Serena MacBeth, inspiring chef Vivek Singh and screenwriter Andrew Davies, to finally seeing my creative vision of the Discovery Zone come to life with such vibrancy and energy from the thousands of visitors that passed through the doors and the wonderful, enthusiastic Warwick academics and volunteers that worked so hard over the whole Festival weekend.
Christine – My best moment of the year was the schools' day at the Festival of the Imagination. This had been one of my key projects and I was keen to ensure that it ran smoothly. It was a great example of how teams across the University can work really well together: security took charge of the school buses' arrivals and departures, the Arts Centre staff ensured that the children were ushered around the Arts Centre calmly and safely, we collaborated with the Centre for Professional Education so we could have 100 PGCE students to help us on the day and the University events team helped the 50th team to manage the day and ensured timings were kept to. There were so many other people involved too and I was so grateful for everyone’s help and involvement.
Nicola – I don’t think I could identify a best moment (unless you count the lie-in I had the morning after the Festival of the Imagination finished!) There are so many highlights! From launching the year in a transformed Butterworth Hall with an event that was not only a dinner, but a full production to 200 guests of the University, to spending a week at Cheltenham Science Festival in the Science Faculty marquee engaging with thousands of visitors excited by science, to the Royal visit by Princess Anne, through to the Festival of the Imagination which I can’t really sum up in just a few words… There have been so many high points, and they’ve all come about through great team work and collaborations across the University.
What has been the most challenging part of the year?
Emily – Not sure there’s been too many bad moments, although the most emotional I’ve been was watching the National Grid Discovery Zone being dismantled and feeling like the year had come to an end.
Christine – Definitely the week in the run up to the Festival of the Imagination! I wasn’t quite anticipating the amount of last-minute changes there would be, the schedule was being amended right up until the last minute.
Nicola – I’m not going to say it was the worst moment, but there was a special kind of realisation that dawned on me after the initial excitement of hearing that we were having a Royal visit, when it hit home that that visit was only 10 days before the Festival of the Imagination… Let’s just say I’ve never known a workload like it…but it was totally worth it, as that was a really special day to be part of.
What will you take away with you from this experience and would you do it all again?
Emily – That it takes a fantastic team effort to pull off what we did. There really is nothing like team work. That our academics and students really do step up when it comes to engaging with the public and they constantly made me feel proud to be part of the Warwick community. I would definitely do it all again in a heartbeat, yes! With lessons learnt and the knowledge that there is still so much more to Warwick and what we can share with the public, our staff and our alumni, another Festival would definitely be something I would love to be involved with. I certainly won’t forget this 50th year in a hurry.
Christine –It was such a great experience being part of the 50th team and I have learnt so much, so YES, I would love to do it all again!
Nicola – It’s been really apparent throughout the whole planning and delivery of the 50th that there’s great enthusiasm across the University to reach out and share what we do with the wider community, and there is also an audience out there willing to engage with us to find out more. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Pictured (left to right): Christine Fearn (50th Anniversary Project Officer), Emily Little (Creative Producer, 50th Anniversary) and Nicola Hunt (University Events Manager).
As our 50th year draws to a close, Olly Rice, Democracy and Development Officer at Warwick SU reflects on the past 50 years of student democracy at Warwick.
"I’m Olly Rice, the current Democracy and Development Officer at Warwick SU. Democracy and Development is at face-value a bit of strange role: it means overseeing not just democracy, but SU outlets, events, and finances. Very few SUs have this role. Usually it’s left to administrative staff, but then very few SUs have as healthy a turnout and turnover as Warwick SU, one of the largest and most active SUs in the country.
Indeed Warwick SU doesn’t just have ‘democratic’ as a stale requisite necessitated under the 1994 Education Act, it actively strives to embody that and be truly accountable and representative to its students. This is reflected in a democratic structure that has been revised significantly over the years and decades. Indeed, this year we’ve curtailed the talk-shop that was Student Council and now elect students to eight new, action-orientated SU Execs. Where other SUs can get stuck in bad institutional structures that place barriers to student engagement and barriers to its own change, ours is a living, breathing and dynamic democracy. We genuinely try to empower our students to propose, organise, and carry out the events, campaigns, support and advice they want rather than just administrative staff who can and do provide excellent support to facilitate this.
The Sabbatical Officer roles themselves have also changed over the years with the first Sabbatical positions only being created and funded in the mid-70s, over a decade after the University was created. The SU back them was much smaller, and its increase in size, space, staff and representation has been hard won along the way. Indeed some things never change with student protest occupations on campus in recent years against tuition fees being the same tactics used successfully in gaining the SU its first building in the 70s.
Back then though; democracy was a lot more direct and communal than now. A smaller University, student assemblies on core topics of the day (including on controversial University decisions such as revealed student admission decisions by the then Vice Chancellor, Jack Butterworth) could gather around half the total student population to actively listen and discuss the issues. Now we facilitate All Student Meetings on our policy discussions, however our voting is online, but then so is many of our students’ private conversations, which often happen over social media. Democracy has changed to reflect this and will continue to do so. This improves its accessibility and in fact in absolute numbers empowers more students than ever before.
This doesn’t just include Sabbatical Officer elections, part-time officer elections and other direct SU Representatives. It’s easy to forget that every SU society and club is democratic too, as are the 700+ Student-Staff Liaison Committees students elect Couse Reps. These are the bread and butter of academic dialogue and student experience on campus in which democracy is at its core.
However, over the years Higher Education across the UK has become increasingly marketised. Rather than proving a benign force, it subtly but strongly changes the way students interact with and value their University environment. This is pervasive with markedly increased quantitative pressures from living costs, accommodation costs, degree classification, and competition for academic time and resources as well your final grade. This heightens the place of individualistic and materialistic values in society, values that are juxtaposed to the values of altruism and community embodied by democracy. Democracy, in short, wasn’t designed to give the individual and direct benefits students are being conditioned to expect.
This is interesting when you’re the Democracy and Development Officer, which necessitates interacting with students as consumers in our outlets, and as voters in our elections – two identities that are not easily conflated, no matter what the Economics Department tells you!
So when it comes to how democracy will change in the next 50 years, it can often seem like a small fish swimming furiously against a torrential river in order to increase participation. Despite this bigger picture, what we might in fact be seeing is that most students do still take part in democracy, but the democracy they perceive to be the most relevant to them – whether in their societies or on their course - and that’s no bad thing.
It takes a strong SU to keep not only turnout healthy, but a good quality of student participation. In the next few years it’s imperative that we work towards restabilising the links between democracy and its perceived relevance to the increasingly pressurised student. In reality though, Warwick is that strong SU. With a large number of student societies, strong levels of accountability, a good working relationship with the University, and elected Officers working day in and day out to improve the student experience and act on policy passed by our students, Warwick SU is more relevant to its students than ever before.
The next 50 years need to build on this solid foundation in the fast moving river of Higher Education."
Coinciding with our 50th anniversary, the Modern Records Centre is currently working on a project to digitalise copies of our student newspapers from years gone by. Lizzie Morrison, Assistant Archivist at the Centre, tells us more.
If you want to learn about the history of this University from a student perspective then the best place to look is in the newspapers which were written by Warwick’s student population. However, the original print copies kept at the Modern Records Centre have become extremely fragile over time and are susceptible to damage caused by constant handling.
That’s why the Modern Records Centre took the decision a few years ago to embark upon a lengthy project to digitise and make them available online. A dedicated team undertook the scanning of every page of each issue of the main student newspapers, creating metadata and carrying out OCR work as they went along, and even now staff are hard at work to add to what’s already available through the Warwick Digital Collections pages. You can view the newspapers here: http://contentdm.warwick.ac.uk/cdm/landingpage/collection/boar
At this website you will find issues of The Giblet and Campus and the first 50 editions of The Warwick Boar. Using the Advanced Search option will allow you to search for words or exact phrases in a range of different fields, such as Title, Page, Creator and Contributors. You can also narrow down your searches using the ‘Search by date’ option. So, if you studied at Warwick during the sixties and seventies why not try searching for photos of friends or looking for the events which defined your time here?
For everyone else, here are a few facts and some student journalism which may be of interest…
First things first, here’s an explanation of how Campus got its name (‘EXIT GIBLET’)…….. http://ow.ly/Vjtlp
…… and a quick summary of how The Warwick Boar was shaped by its successive editors (‘Still BOARing After All These Years’) http://ow.ly/VjtTx
…… and a photo from 1976 of the staff who worked on The Warwick Boar http://ow.ly/VjwTy
A sample of the types of articles available on line so far :
‘Paxton in Berlin’ http://ow.ly/Vjxr1
But the best articles (and the most entertaining) cover everything that happened on campus, from student protests and antics to union politics. You can read interviews with academic staff and find out which famous bands visited Warwick.
The papers also show how the campus landscape changed. For example, it’s hard to believe that where the giant Let’s Not Be Stupid sculpture stands near the
If you want to find out what other headlines and stories have been uncovered from the pages of the The Giblet, Campus and The Warwick Boar look out for the tweets posted by @warwicklibrary. We hope you enjoy them!
Earlier this year, three Warwick students set off on an adventure of a lifetime - cycling 20,000km around the world, with the aim of promoting renewable energy through microfinance. They tell us more about their project, 'The Green Wheels', in today's 50@50.
Tell us a bit about each member of the team.
The three of us all come from different regions in France but ended up finishing our high school years in Paris and came to the UK for university. All undergraduates at Warwick, Louis is studying Politics, while Maxence and Roland are studying Management at Warwick Business School. We all have very different qualities that are essential to the team. Louis is the " sales" guy, always finding a good way to add value to the project; Maxence is great at organisation and planning things; and Roland is the dreamer, doing everything to achieve our goals. We're convinced that these different features make our team more efficient.
How did you meet ?
The three of us met during our first year at Warwick. The fact we were all French 18-year-old freshers definitely helped us to bond quickly! We had all had similar pre-university experiences and had decided to study in the UK for the same reason: to discover something new. These similarities led us to spend a lot of time together, speaking about our future and discussing projects that we could build together.
What the does the project involve ?
Our project involves cycling 20,000 kilometers in 33 countries in 365 days to promote renewable energy through microfinance. Basically our goal is to meet (and, where possible, financially support) as many small entrepreneurs as we can who are willing to satisfy their energy needs through renewable sources of energy. Once back in Paris we will allocate 30,000 Euros to the projects we admire the most. This money has been raised through various corporate sponsors such as the Warwick Group Research Project Energy, IATL, Bouygues UK, Europcar, Laboratoire Carrare, MyTravelChic and many others as well as through a crowdfunding campaign.
Why and how did you decide to do this project? Who helped it to become a reality?
We spent our first year at Warwick sharing our ideas and opinions about what was important for us: politics, entrepreneurship, finance, environmental issues and many other things! We all wanted to build something that could be a mix of features that were important for us. We wanted to do something that could, to a certain extent, change the future of others. We always dreamed about being actors of a better future and we wanted to start as soon as possible. Being passionate about entrepreneurship and being aware of the the "green energy revolution", we started focusing on these two aspects, looking for something to bring them together.
In September 2013, it was Roland who first came up with the idea of linking entrepreneurship and renewable energy with a powerful financial tool: microfinance. He suggested we do it while achieving a childhood dream of his: cycling the world. The three of us loved the idea and decided to start the project and undertake this year-long challenge. After working a few weeks on the project, Maxence and Louis came up with the idea of raising as much money as we could in order to finance the trip but also, and more importantly, to finance green entrepreneurs all around the world.
Hundreds of people helped us to make this project a reality. Our friends and families were the first ones offering us crucial advice, followed by personal tutors and teachers. We also had really great support from our partner Babyloan and Entrepreneurs du Monde, who helped us a lot on the microfinance and micro-entrepreneurship aspects of the project. Finally all our sponsors (including the University of Warwick!) and all the people who trusted us gave us advice that enabled our team to make our idea a reality.
What do you hope to achieve during the year ?
We're always trying to make the most of this experience. During this year we have one main goal: Making our project a success in achieving our personal goal - cycling all around the world and coming back to Paris in 365 days while discovering as many new cultures as possible - and our social goal - meeting as many green entrepreneurs as we can and financially supporting them. We want to show people that a multitude of small actions can lead to big changes and everyone can undertake these small actions. Our final objective is to show other young (and less young!) people in Europe that we have to be the ones to build a better future and that the number of opportunities is constantly growing.
Have you had any favorite moments so far ?
We worked for almost 13 months on this project and have already cycled more that 6,000 kilometers. Of course we have had moments we preferred but as a whole this adventure has been great from the day we decided to build the project until now. If we had to choose a favourite moment, we would have to say that the departure was incredibly memorable. It was very satisfying thinking that we had already achieved a big objective and that it was the start of something new: the adventure. During the trip, our favourite country so far has been Bolivia. After getting over the hardest challenge - climbing the Andes - we spent one month cycling on the "Altiplano" at more than 4,000 metres crossing the Titicaca lake and the famous Uyuni's salt lake.
What has been the hardest part of the journey so far ?
The hardest part of the journey had definitely been the long climb of the Andes. We climbed 4,000 metres in less than a week on dirty sand roads! We were cycling at an average of 8km per hour and crossed a summit at 4,457 metres high. We spent two days cycling in snow - but we had hardly any winter clothes and it was so cold that our stove didn't work! Nevertheless, during this difficult climb we crossed a natural reserve full of mind blowing landscapes. This challenge forced our team to really work hard together and we now feel very proud having achieved it! After more than four months on the road we discovered that we can look back at every challenging moment and laugh.
What are you looking forward to most during the rest of the year ?
We just spent a long time in Central and South America, so we're really excited about discovering a new continent! Australia and Asia will be fantastic - we have many green projects waiting for us there. We'll also visit Bangladesh, where Mohamed Yunus initiated the idea of "Green Microfinance". The constantly changing environment makes the trip unpredictable and fantastic and that is why we have the chance to experience something new every day.
What do you plan to do after the project is over ? Do you have any plans for after graduation ?
We'll be back in Paris by the end of July 2016. Our short term plan is to continue to promote the values and the idea of The Green Wheels. Moreover, we're in touch with other young entrepreneurs who are looking to start similar projects or other kinds of social businesses. We would like to share our experience with them in order to help them to build their projects.
We all loved this first entrepreneurial project and we are certain that this experience is likely to guide our life after graduation. We are constantly thinking about new projects to start and new ideas. After experiencing first hand social entrepreneurship we might move towards a more "classic" kind of entrepreneurship.