Our Civic Commitment

As part of our commitment to being a Civic University we work hard to identify and support organisations, initiatives and individuals across the city and county that are doing great work and making a real impact.

Funding a local teacher's trip to Kenya

This summer, the University paid for one of three teachers from Alvaston Infant and Nursery School to visit Chaddy Mission School, in the rural slums of Nakuru, Kenya. The aim of the trip was for the teachers to develop their understanding of global approaches to teaching and learning, share their strategies to promote learning with Kenyan staff, and educate pupils in Derby about life in Africa. The sponsorship is part of the University's ongoing seven-year partnership with the school, which currently employs several of our graduates.

Molly Allen, Headteacher, commented: "Our school demographic consists mainly of white British children, and we believe it is important for everyone to become educated about different countries, cultures, and ethnicities. We taught our children all about Kenya and they helped us plan the trip every step of the way.

“We intend to develop a sister-school partnership with a school in Kenya so that we can contribute to making a difference for years and years to come.” 

A teacher and pupils playing

University spin-out company works with Littleover Community School to create mural artwork

The University’s first spin-out company, S.H.E.D, worked in collaboration with Littleover Community School in Derby to create a bright new mural artwork for the school’s reception area.

S.H.E.D (Social Higher Education Depot) ran workshops with students to explore how the mural design could reflect the school’s ethos of Learning, Caring and Succeeding. Youth artist Adoniah Haslam created the design, which he installed with three other artists. The finished artwork has three main components: portraits representing various topics or aspects of the school experience; a large ribbon representing a unified community; and a refracting prism that gives structure and a framework for other elements.

David Ashman, Co-ordinator of Creative Arts at Littleover Community School, said: “Working with S.H.E.D has been a productive, fruitful, and collaborative process which has culminated in an exciting site-specific mural that reflects the school’s aims. Using a proposed framework, students were very keen to put forward ideas that began to visually address the school’s aims of learning, caring, and succeeding.”

Dr Rhiannon Jones, Associate Professor (Civic) at the University of Derby and CEO of S.H.E.D, added: “As a Civic University we are committed to working collaboratively with schools to support creative and cultural endeavours and we were thrilled when Littleover Community School reached out.”

A group of people outside Littleover School

Sponsorship supports Gaia exhibition at Derby Cathedral

The University was delighted to be headline sponsor of the Gaia exhibition at Derby Cathedral, which ran from 22 September until 16 October 2022. 

The event featured artist Luke Jerram’s impressive Gaia artwork. Measuring seven metres in diameter, the artwork is currently on a nationwide tour. Created from detailed NASA imagery, it provided a unique opportunity for visitors to see our planet on this scale, floating above the Cathedral’s nave.

To coincide with the exhibition, the Cathedral ran a series of events, including a Music and Wellbeing talk, based on research carried out by Dr Yoon Irons and Professor David Sheffield. The event also featured the University choir.

Professor Keith McLay, Provost - Learning & Teaching at the University, commented:

“The University is pleased to further strengthen its existing partnership with the Cathedral, working together to provide the city with cultural opportunities to enjoy.”

A model of the Earth hanging from the ceiling in Derby Cathedral

University continues commitment to Derby Book Festival

TV presenter Dan Walker, the Times’ royal correspondent Valentine Low, and local crime writer Stephen Booth were among the speakers at the Autumn Edition of Derby Book Festival, which took place in early November.

The University is one of the headline sponsors of this popular festival, which started in 2014 and now takes place twice a year. 

It is now a well-established part of the city’s cultural calendar, celebrating the joy of books and reading. It has a successful schools programme involving around 90% of the city’s primary schools with its popular Meet the Author events held at Derby Theatre and live-streamed.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby, said: “We are delighted to continue to support Derby Book Festival. It plays a key role in the city’s arts and cultural scene, adding value, vibrancy, and benefit to the community, as well as aligning to the University’s broader civic ambition and commitment.”

Derby joins UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

Derby has become one of two UK cities to be accepted as members of UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) in the latest round of applications. This recognises Derby’s outstanding efforts to make lifelong learning a reality for all people within the city.

Derby’s membership to the network was granted following a successful application which was submitted by Derby City Council, the University, Derby County Community Trust and the Derby Opportunity Area Board.

Key aspects for becoming a learning city include a strong commitment to lifelong learning by the mayor, and a track record for good practices and policy initiatives, as well as having the ability to deliver educational opportunities that cater to everyone and have a strong commitment to delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Derby’s application referenced a number of areas of strength, including: effectively using resources within every sector to promote learning from basic to higher education, and revitalising learning in families and communities.

Written by Bethany Parkes