The Warwick Awards for Public and Community Engagement (WAPCE), seek to recognise the vital contributions Warwick staff and students make in engaging the public – on an international and national level as well as crucially within our region and local communities – in our learning and discovery, with the goals of sharing and co-producing knowledge, strengthening the role we play in the region and showcasing the role Warwick plays nationally and internationally in making the world a better place. Find out more about WAPCE here. We are proud to announce this year's worthy winners and due to the quality of applications we have also recognised a few additional runners-up.
Beth (@beth__elinor) is a third-year medical student committed to ensuring youth voices are heard in global health decision-making processes. Over the first few years of her degree, Beth has found that many of her peers do not know what Global Health is. Her response is that Global Health is local health. Her aim has been to educate, equip, and engage students, especially medical students, on global health topics and provide them with the tools to advocate on the topics they are passionate about to enact change at a local level. She also researchers migrants’ health and aims to engage migrants themselves to further understand their health needs and ensure that these are met by health professionals. Beth has been achieving these ambitious goals through her various roles, including as President for Students for Global Health (SfGH), a student network and registered charity tackling global and local health inequalities through education, advocacy, and community action. She is also president for the Warwick Global Health Society. Beth has organised global health events including film screenings, talks and debates. She is also in the processing of planning an 8-week Global Health Short Course, covering different global health topics with expert speakers. Beth creates blogs and Instagram posts to share her learnings to encourage others to engage the public to solve global and local medical challenges.
Law student Chiamaka (@allthings.psych) is a project leader on Warwick Volunteers ‘Cherylesmore Good Neighbours Project’. This project sees elderly community members and students coming together to improve the community’s understanding of technology. As many everyday activities now take place online, Chiamaka strongly believes no one should be prevented from carrying these out due to the barriers of technology. In this project, students teach community members how to use technology to communicate with friends and family, call their doctor and even pick up medication. Students who have taken part in this project are able to break outside of the university ‘bubble’ and connect with the local community, with many also developing their communication skills. As project leader, Chiamaka attends all volunteering sessions and encourages other students to get involved and reflect on the difference they are making in the local community. Chiamaka also utilised social media and other marketing methods to raise awareness to ensure maximum visibility of this project. Her success can be seen in the expansion of the project into Kenilworth, with the hopes of further projects in Leamington Spa and Earlsdon. The project has also been nominated for the Warwick Volunteers Award, which further attests to Chiamaka’s hard work and meaningful impact on Warwick’s local communities.
Busola (LinkedIn) is a doctoral researcher at the Applied Biomedical Signal Processing and Intelligent eHealth lab in the School of Engineering. Based on her past engagements with young people of different age groups in her home country of Nigeria, Busola has a particular interest in exploring themes around diversity and encouraging youths (especially females and less-privileged students) to take up subjects in STEM fields. She is also making conscious efforts to communicate her research to the public in engaging and challenging ways. This has been achieved across a number of projects. For example, during ‘The Blair Project’, Busola collaborated with The Blair Project team to produce short but informative TikTok videos on diversity and science-related themes. In January of this year, Busola was an online guest to a TV programme called 'Engineering and You' on the Ogun State Television (OGTV) in southwest Nigeria. She presented a talk on pathways to youth and public engagement in STEM fields based on her personal experience both in and outside Nigeria. These two projects are just a small sample of Busola’s public engagement activities. To ensure others can learn from Busola’s projects, she shares online content via LinkedIn.
Saadia (@saadiagardezi) founded ‘Project Dastaan’ (@ProjectDastaan), an oral history project that seeks to preserve the stories of the survivors of the partition of India in 1947. Using 360 film and VR glasses, Saadia created bespoke tours of survivors’ ancestral homes and towns, giving them closure after 75 years of being unable to visit their homes due to the animosity between India and Pakistan. In 2022, with funding from the British Council, National Geographic, and Arts Council England, Saadia worked with a team of young artists and animators from India and Pakistan to celebrate the two countries’ 75 years of independence. This 75th anniversary project featured an award-winning VR film, “Child of Empire”, which immersed viewers in a migrant’s journey in 1947, when the British Raj ended, and neighbours became enemies. Saadia also conceptualised and wrote three animated films called “Lost Migrations”, which explored the narratives of women, sea borders and the stateless during and after decolonisation. The tour in the UK was a huge success, with over 11 installations across England, including Coventry (WAC), Birmingham (BMAG) and Derby in the Midlands. These exhibits were attended by thousands of viewers with many British South Asian communities appearing to appreciate the efforts made to represent their history as part of British history.
Developing Others Award
Professor Kate Astbury
(@100days1815) Kate has been integrating public engagement into her research for a number of years. Her recent engagement activities include; working with Heritage charity SV2G (St Vincent Second Generation) to organise a study day at the National Archives, working with members of the Garifuna diaspora and volunteers at Portchester Castle. Yet what makes Kate’s contribution so special is her commitment to developing public engagement skills in other staff members, UG and PG students. Kate is the academic lead on IATL’s UG module, ‘Public Engagement – Connecting Communities to Research’, introducing up to 30 students a year to theoretical and practical elements of public engagement. Kate also teaches on IATL’s new PGT Public Engagement module. Each year, Kate is a URSS supervisor and she encourages her students to fully engage with the public engagement requirements of the summer project. Kate has been training one of her PhD students, Abigail Coppins, to develop her PE skills and, last year, Abigail won WAPCE’s inaugural PG award. Within her home department of SMLC, Kate encourages her colleagues to work with local communities and facilitates their contribution to WIE events such as the Big Read. Kate’s work has enhanced the culture of public engagement at Warwick, both within her department and beyond.
Making a Difference Award (Winner)
Dr Rachel Turner-King
Rachel (@RachelTurnerKi1) is Associate Professor in Creativity, Performance and Education in Education Studies (@Warwick_Edu). According to former Head of Education Studies, Professor Emma Smith, ‘What sets Rachel’s work apart from other engagement activities are the creative ways in which she engages with the local community to explore important issues that impact all our lives.’ Her research, teaching and engagement explores how arts-based pedagogies can be used to create hospitable, welcoming spaces for local primary school children, young people in both secondary schools and youth theatres and adult communities, such as those in Canley.
Notable recent projects include ‘Youth Climate Assembly’ with MEAD curator Sarah Shalgosky and Flux’s STEAM practitioner Charlotte Hale-Smith and ‘Acting on Climate’ with Dr Bobby Smith. This sixteen-week creative process brought together Year 9 pupils from Coventry schools, three performing arts/drama teachers and diverse network of local artists, focusing on how dance, drama and digital arts can enhance education for sustainable development. This project is ongoing, but student and teacher feedback attests to the fact that young people’s confidence in expressing their ideas and feelings has already grown. Rachel and her team have created sharable digital materials and teaching resources so that the findings from this project can inspire innovation in pedagogic practice and educational discourse. Her community-led projects have been incorporated into Rachel’s MA module 'Drama and Theatre in Theory and Practice' and a new module that will further embed community and public engagement work into her teaching.
Making a Difference Award (Highly Commended)
Dr Bo Kelestyn
Bo (@BoKelestyn) is a design thinking academic and practitioner, who co-created the Warwick Design Thinking Award (WDTA). The key purpose of the Award is to democratise design thinking to pupils in secondary education. Through seeing the benefits of learning about design thinking on her undergraduate and postgraduate students, Bo wanted to break the boundaries between secondary schools, higher education, and the consulting industry. Through a partnership with a local school (Warwick School) and consultancy (Sprint Valley), Bo developed a unique opportunity to embed design thinking in a school curriculum. There have been three iterations of the Award so far. The work she achieved with Warwick School students has acted as a prototype and will be expanded into a ‘lesson in a box’ that can be reused by other regional schools. Bo also hopes to create online learning materials that can be freely accessed by UK educators to upskill themselves in the delivery of the design thinking ‘lesson in a box’.
Outstanding Public Engagement Award
Dr Ali Struthers
Ali (@DrAliStruthers) is Associate Professor in Warwick Law School and is also Director of Widening Participation for the department. She had the ingenious idea to use the format of the TV show ‘Taskmaster’ to make Law inspiring and engaging for younger audiences. School Tasking (@SchoolTasking) involves informative and engaging sessions on simple legal concepts with Year 5 classes in Widening Participation schools. In 2021-22, these sessions were piloted at Warwick Law School by a small staff team, led by Ali, with the aim of inspiring pupils from less advantaged backgrounds to think about attending university, and ideally to consider Law as an option for their future study. In the sessions, they learned a little bit about Law, engaged in some activities where they could put legal skills to good use, and then completed a Taskmaster-style task based around their learning. In 2022-23, the sessions were run by a team of LLB student volunteers across six local schools. Most sessions took place in schools with an on-campus School Tasking Final that was covered by both BBC and Sky media teams. From September 2023, School Tasking is being rolled out as a national competition with 26 universities across the UK.
Rising Star Award
Dr Ben Richardson
In 2018, Ben (@benjaminjricha1) chanced upon a reference to the colonial sugar merchant and slaveowner John Gladstone spending time in Leamington. Through exploring the Gladstone connection, Ben quickly uncovered more people who had lived in Leamington and had links to the British Empire beyond the UK. This research has evolved into a community engagement project that has seen Ben work with students from non-traditional University backgrounds, Leamington residents and local history groups. His work with Leamington History Group (LHG) saw him write an article for their website, a video presentation for their Virtual Local History Day, and a contribution to their video ‘Life After Victoria’. Ben also worked with LHG to create a walking tour leaflet produced by Warwickshire College students, an exhibition at the ArtsTrail gallery, and the Global Leamington book. This featured contributions from 40 members of the local community, hundreds of pictures, and original artwork from a local artist. According to Stella Bolitho of the LHG, “This project has benefited the wider, diverse Leamington community, by developing a further understanding and awareness of the town’s recent past and connections around the globe. It has promoted community spirit and cohesion, whilst re-evaluating Leamington as a global town with significant historical and touristic merit.’
Staff Team Award (Winners)
Creative Learning Team
The Creative Learning Team (@warwickarts) are an incredibly new team, built by Gemma Wright (Head of Creative Learning, @gemma_m_wright) who started in August 2021. Also in the team are Lynsey Cullen (Creative Learning Manager, @lynseycullen) and Tara Johnston-Comerford (Creative Learning Coordinator, @tarajcomerford), Becca Randle (@rectanglerandle), Audience Development Officer, who sits across Creative Learning and Marketing, and Sophia Welby (Events Assistant). The team created a new Creative Learning strategy and public engagement programme which commenced in January 2022 and has achieved magnificent things in a short time. In the last year (1 April 2022 – 31 March 2023) the team have delivered 319 creative sessions both onsite at the Arts Centre and offsite in the community, for a total of 11,277 people. These creative sessions have engaged youth, students, communities, families, early years and schools. The team have built 50 new partnerships across community venues, schools and creative sector organisations, as well as employing 26 local and regional artists across the programme. Highlights of the past year include ‘Playing out in Canley’, a year-long programme of community co-produced, creative activity all led in collaboration with a steering group of residents. The projects second Parade took place in June of this year! ‘Always Free Foyer’ has also been incredibly successful, a series of free, weekly, artist-led, creative activities held across WAC foyer spaces during term time with an offer from Early Years through to Elders. This has welcomed 7275 people onto campus to take part in creative activities.
Staff Team Award (Highly Commended)
REWIND is a play about repression, resistance and human rights violations created by Alison Ribeiro de Menezes, Verónica Díaz-Cerda (@veronica_odisea), Ramon Ayres, Eyglo Belafonte, Alex Paton, Josephine Tremelling, Louise Wilcox, Andrés Velázquez (@EphemeralEns) and Otoniel Romero. The performance is based on original research by Alison and Verónica (@WarwickSMLC) on Chilean experiences of violence, personal loss and exile following the Pinochet coup d’état in 1973. It was developed, partly under pandemic conditions, using the methodology of physical theatre, relying on music, movement, dance, and lighting effects, rather than a predefined script. All members of Ephemeral were equally involved in the creative process. Alison, Verónica and Otoniel assisted with the conceptual framing and management of tone, as well as leading public engagement activities and ensuring audience members felt supported, given the difficult themes of the show. The play has been performed at eleven international venues, reaching approximately 1500 audience members. Each show involved a moderated post-performance discussion with the audience to gain their feedback, enable them to exchange views, and inform our ongoing critical and reflective practice. The work has been refined following these audience responses and focus groups, which form an integral part of the project’s participatory methodology.
Student Team Award
WMS Star Team
Made up of James Heath (@jamesheath1), Laura Whitter (@lm_wh), Rajinder Sehmar, Wysnavie Tarmier (@wysh26), Ishan Shrestha, Anna Ehmann (@ehmannanna) and Djenna Chebli (@djenna_ch) WMS Star (@wms.star) are a group of Warwick medical students working together to raise awareness of the difficulties and experiences faced by refugees by working with local grassroots organisations. Within healthcare systems, refugees face health inequalities and inadequate access to physical and mental healthcare, which build on existing health problems caused by dangerous journeys to the UK and long stays in detention centres or hotels. The WMS Star team work to amplify the stories of refugees in the UK and beyond, raise awareness of the obstacles they face, and work to improve understanding of how medics can support displaced people. The team have developed a strong relationship with Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CMRC) to construct tailored first aid workshops for their clients and staff, allowing for a medium through which students can directly interact with refugees and asylum seekers to relay skills that they have developed during their degrees. Over the five sessions the team have already run, they have trained over 40 medical student volunteers to act as 1-1 coaches during the workshops in collaboration with interpreters to support all clients. The team recently held a panel event, titled ‘The Health Impact of UK Anti-Immigration Policies’, open to students, staff, and the general public, which aimed to publicise refugee healthcare policies and the attributed difficulties.
On July 19th we were delighted to bring together colleagues, fellows, friends and partners of WIE to celebrate all that we have achieved together over the past year and to award our deserving 2023 WAPCE winners. The sun joined us for what was a lovely afternoon, beginning with a BBQ lunch accompanied by live music at the Cryfield Sports Pavilion, followed by the award ceremony. The WAPCE awards recognise the vital contributions that Warwick staff and students make in engaging the public in our learning and discovery. They significantly contribute towards strengthening the role that we and the wider university play in the region. See the photos from the event below.