SDHI was represented at the 2015 Dundee Science Festival with a stand to illustrate its applied interdisciplinary work. Dr Fred Comerford, SDHI Institute Manager invited displays related to the topic ‘perceptions’. Using visual illusions Fred demonstrated to visitors that what we see and hold for being ‘real’ or ‘true’ may be deceptive. The theme was also reflected in the display by Kirsty Miller, PhD student in psychology who presented a very timely topic considering for example the refugee crisis in Europe: perceived in-group vs out-group differences that may impact on how likely we act to help others. Jean Cathro of the social enterprise, ‘Crossing countries, challenging boundaries, changing lives‘ engaged children and adults through art work, craft and video presentation. SDHI has repeatedly reported on this innovative social enterprise on this blog. Crossing truly challenges mis-perceptions about disability, ethnicity, gender, age and other characteristics that so often create unnecessary and hurtful divisions. Finally, Dr Ed Hall, Geography challenged in his display concepts of place-based vulnerabilities of communities that experience prolonged electricity failures. Simple categorisations of ‘vulnerable people’ are not useful or informative as ‘vulnerability’ is always contextual and relational. The event at the Dundee Menzieshill Community Centre was very well attended with some families spending several hours there to explore the many exciting displays and presentations.
Congratulations to Dr Fernando Fernandes, Senior Lecturer in Inequalities and SDHI member who will be leading a public engagement project (Shared Knowledge Hub – Working together to tackle homelessness and poverty in Dundee) to connect students at the University of Dundee with community organisations and service users in Dundee around poverty and homelessness issues. The project is supported by a grant from the Revealing Research Public Engagement team. SDHI will provide support for this project. This initiative illustrates the commitment to work with communities to achieve change and is in line with SDHI’s strategy ‘Connecting to transform lives’.
SDHI contributed to an event on the 23 October in the Steeple Church in Dundee that brought together many community organisations, Dundee city council and academics from various disciplines departments. The purpose of the four hour meeting was to explore how the university can engage and work more closely with local community organisations (e.g. Sign Post; Hot Chocolate). The event was led and organised by Dr Fernando Fernandes, School of Nursing & Midwifery/SDHI who – in his introductory remarks – highlighted the role of Brazilian scholar, educator and social activist, Paulo Freire in guiding the vision for more participatory and collaborative work between the university and the communities of Dundee. The afternoon was organised around round table discussion and a World Café style exploration of the issues that matter to communities. Many organisations struggle with limited resources and had mixed experiences with past engagement with the university. There was a strong wish for a real, not a tokenistic or temporary commitment for a joint working relationship. Value was seen in having the university build local capacity (accredited short courses), support practice-based evaluations, develop important technologies that reduce the monitoring and reporting burden, contribute to the volunteering programme. Academic expertise may also provide the evidence for promising interventions, which in turn may make funding more sustainable. The role of local businesses in potentially contributing to programmes that seek to address inequalities in pragmatic ways was also discussed. The event was just opening the discussion between the interdisciplinary ‘Engagement and Participation’ group at the University of Dundee and the community.
SDHI and the Geddes Institute for Urban Research are pleased to announce ‘CARE SPACE: Future Designs for Wellbeing’ – a symposium and workshop on the 27th June at the University of Dundee. The purpose of the event is to explore care and caring urban environments from multiple, disciplinary perspectives and to translate innovative, inter-and transdisciplinary thinking into new research ideas. Please save the day and get in touch with us! If you are interested in participating, please register with Rosanne Bell r.c.bell @dundee.ac.uk