On the afternoon of Wednesday 25th February, a second Creative Spaces event was held on the Spanish steps in the Birley Building. Following on from the success of the first Creative Spaces event in July 2014, this event was designed to showcase best practices of public engagement and outreach activities from across the University.
This time about 40 members of staff from across the University (five of the seven faculties were represented, in addition to SAS) were in attendance as colleagues from the Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care treated them to some innovative hands-on activities. These included: electrical engineering challenges, facial morphing, and of course poetry writing.
One of the main pieces of feedback from the previous Creative Spaces event was that participants would have liked the opportunity to discuss interdisciplinary collaboration and potential barriers to this. As such, following the demonstrations and lunch (which was once again provided by the outstanding Haleh Movarej and MetMunch), some of the participants met for a facilitated discussion on how to take things forward. The following three points summarise this discussion:
- Research groups were agreed to be a great way of encouraging networking between academics across the university. However, it was felt that more work was needed to raise awareness of these groups and to encourage wider and more diverse membership. Moving Creative Spaces to Birley was felt to be a positive in terms of bringing the University together, and creating more opportunities to meet staff from other departments. It was also recommended to consider joining Greenhouse, which is an interdisciplinary group already set up at the University, and which meets once a month: http://www.celt.mmu.ac.uk/flex/greenhouse.php
- We discussed the idea of a themed contribution from MMU for the Manchester Science Festival. ‘The idea of different departments working together to produce stands rather than having separate stands for each department was suggested as a way of promoting discussion and collaboration.
- It was agreed that contacting local community groups to encourage more public awareness about science and enhancing community engagement would be a great output from the day. Some organisations were suggested and have been contacted already!
Creative Spaces 2 help to facilitate some very useful interdisciplinary conversations, and it was also a lot of fun. In particular it has helped to further develop the relationship between the Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care, with some collaborative projects now firmly in the pipeline.
For future events it would be great to see even more staff involved, and to potentially host the event in the building of another Faculty, as moving it from John Dalton worked so well. Look out for Creative Spaces 3 in about 4-5 months tines, and if you want to get involved then please do get in touch.
Thank you to everyone that attended, both as a participant and a demonstrator. Special thanks to Hannah Fawcett, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, who helped to put the whole event together, as well as to Haleh Morvaj and the MetMunch team for providing such delicious and healthy food.