Civic Engagement

How we have engaged with our local communities and the wider region during the past 12 months

We are proud to be the only University in our city and county as this enriches our connectivity within the region but, as importantly, we relish the civic responsibilities this brings.

This year, staff and students have been involved in a variety of different projects and initiatives aimed at supporting and engaging with the local community.

University commits to new Civic Agreement

We have pledged to develop a Civic University Agreement that will reaffirm the University’s ongoing commitment to playing its part in the city and county’s prosperity and wellbeing.

The agreement is a key recommendation in a report published by the Civic University Commission established by the UPP Foundation, which sets out how universities like Derby have the capability, opportunity and responsibility to support the places where they are based to solve some of their most pressing and major problems.

We are undertaking a consultation exercise to understand and establish the needs and priorities of communities, businesses and organisations across Derby and Derbyshire, which will help shape our approach going forward.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell said: “Valuable civic activity is already being developed by universities, but we also recognise that gaining a more in-depth understanding of the needs of our communities, and then responding strategically to those needs, is essential if we are to make a positive, longlasting impact.”

Old shed becomes art gallery and soup kitchen to bring communities together

A garden shed, which can be transformed into a variety of different venues, from a soup kitchen and library, to a performance space and a visual arts gallery, has been launched by the University and cultural partners.

The Social Higher Education Depot (S.H.E.D) is a mobile arts commissioning venue and public space, which aims to support the co-creation of creative arts practice and invest in real issues that people, including children, want to discuss.

Dr Rhiannon Jones, Creative and Arts Researcher at the University of Derby, and the University’s Digital and Material Arts Research Centre, led the project, along with support from Derby Theatre, Expanded Studio Project, In Good Company, In Dialogue, Derby City Council, Derby County Community Trust, Cultural Campus, and Primary.

Dr Jones said: “Community is embedded at the heart of all things S.H.E.D. From the very start of the design, it has been all about finding a way to develop a programme of activity that can support and respond to public interest, and co-create activities and proposals for what S.H.E.D. could be to others.”

The S.H.E.D will be touring across the UK to various cities, and then internationally from 2020.

University and Chatsworth open up opportunities with new partnership

The University, Chatsworth House Trust and the Devonshire Educational Trust are working together to generate new opportunities for students, and to benefit visitors to Chatsworth and local communities across the county, after signing a strategic partnership agreement.

The agreement paves the way for students to take up a variety of work and volunteer placements at the stately home, to stage events there and deliver agreed activities.

The University will also collaborate with Chatsworth and the Devonshire Educational Trust on marketing and promotional campaigns, funding bids, a plan which identifies the region’s learning and employment requirements, and to work more closely with disadvantaged communities in the county.

Refugee journalists being helped by University

We are helping professional journalists who arrived in the UK under refugee or asylum seeker status to rebuild their careers in the country.

The training is part of The Journalist Refugee Project, a partnership with the University of Arts London, financed by the Open Society.

The international media practitioners joined the University and received training in ethics, law, news writing, and video and are now being mentored by our journalism lecturers, seeking reestablishment into the media industry. 

Investing in the local community

Our Community Fund has awarded over £18,000 to local organisations in the 2018/19 academic year, with over £76,800 awarded since it began in 2014.

Many organisations have benefited from the fund, which was set up to inspire projects that benefit local communities, ranging from early years providers and local charities, to musical groups and family support programmes.

To further support community engagement, we once again opened our doors to the community for our annual free Community Day in April.

More than 4,000 people attended the ever-popular event, where visitors had the opportunity to take part in a range of activities including archery, arts and crafts, inflatables, and indoor rock climbing.