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Making a Difference Awards feature

(27 April 2017)

The Making a Difference Awards recognise and celebrate the many different types of social responsibility achievements of the University’s academic and professional support staff, students and alumni.  

This year over 130 entries from across the University were submitted, and 15 Humanities entries were shortlisted, nine related to work carried out by staff and six related to students. The winners of the awards will be announced in a ceremony on the 11 May 2017.  

This week we introduce you to the great work being carried out by Humanities colleagues shortlisted in the category of ‘Outstanding Public Engagement’.


The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka

Dr Joanne Jordan, Lecturer in Climate Change and Development, Global Development Institute, School of Environment, Education and Development 

Research into the everyday realities of climate change in Bangladesh led Dr Joanne Jordan to team up with the University of Dhaka to produce a traditional, interactive theatre performance, known as a Pot Gan, which encouraged slum dwellers, researchers, practitioners and policy makers to reflect on the urban poor’s day to day experiences of climate change. 

Over 600 people, including research participants, community members, researchers and policy makers attended the performances. The performances were also filmed and the resulting documentary has been viewed over 100,000 times. Feedback on the performances included: “This made us care, something that neither science nor policy is successful at doing.” 

The project is ongoing, and a major screening took place in collaboration with the Bangladeshi community group ‘Brick Lane Circle’ in early February reaching an audience of over 200 people.  

Everyday Austerity Exhibition

Dr Sarah Hall, Lecturer in Geography, School of Environment, Education and Development 

Dr Sarah Hall spent two years working with six families in Manchester to better understand the personal impacts of austerity on everyday family life to inform policy and ultimately improve livelihoods. Originally funded by a Humanities Social Responsibility Award, Sarah’s research gives insights into life in austerity through artefacts and striking black and white ‘zine’ images created by local artist Stef Bradley for the Everyday Austerity exhibition. 

The seemingly simple imagery translates high-end research into an entirely accessible story, providing the viewer with a powerful insight into the very personal world of poverty.  The imaginative approach entices the public to engage with the moving story by, for example, listening to audio stories or colouring in the exhibition flyer.  The exhibition has featured at the European City of Science Festival and the Manchester Waterside Festival, among others, and is booked at more venues in the coming months. 

Sarah presented the research at 14 conferences in 2016 with more presentations lined up for 2017.  Policy impact has been made through the Citizen’s Advice National Charity, Manchester City Council, Oldham City Council and the Women’s Budget Group International Network.  

To see details of everyone nominated in the ‘Inspiring Communities: public involvement’ category please visit the Social Responsibility webpages.