Making an impact

The annual Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Social and Economic Engagement demonstrate the impact that LJMU makes on all aspects of life in the UK.

Dr Emma Vickers, School of Humanities and Social Science, received this year’s prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Medal in recognition of her leading and internationally recognised work in the field LGBT history.

Dr Vickers regularly speaks and delivers papers at high profile conferences and events, most recently collaborating with the artist Stephen King on trans* veterans of the British Armed Forces. This photography project, which was based on interviews conducted by Dr Vickers, was exhibited as part of numerous internationally-recognised arts festivals, including Homotopia in Liverpool and Outburst in Belfast, with an estimated 60,000 people viewing the exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool (December 2015 – January 2016) alone.

As a public historian, Dr Vickers has worked on a number of high profile projects, including the Pride of Place project, funded by Historic England, Dry Your Eyes Princess, funded by the Arts Council, and Now and Then: Three Decades of HIV in Merseyside, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. She is also an academic advisor to the National Festival of LGBT History and co-organises their annual conference, Sexing the Past, which brings together academics and activists who are interested in LGBTQ history. Her joint project with Aintree racecourse in 2016 enabled LJMU History students to curate a unique exhibition reflecting on the history of the Grand National. This project was shortlisted for a Times Higher Employer Engagement Award and a Telegraph Educate North Award in 2017. In 2016, she was also nominated for Stonewall’s LGBT Role Model of the Year Award and for a National Diversity Award in 2017.

“Dr Vickers reaches various publics, challenging them to view the past through a new prism, and embrace a nuanced, less fixed understanding of the past more, broadly encompassing and inclusive in its scope,” says Dr David Clampin, School of Humanities and Social Science. “She is a scholar with an international reputation, who uses her knowledge – alongside her passion, innovation and commitment – to expand our understanding of contemporary social issues.”

Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, Denise Parker received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for her work on raising awareness of the needs of terminally ill children and young people, and people with dementia and their carers.

Denise has used her own experiences of caring for her terminally ill daughter in her role as a trustee for a charity working to build a hospice for 16 – 40 year olds in NW England and she is also an inspirational campaigner for the provision age appropriate services. As a compassionate and valued teacher, Denise enthuses students on pre- and post-registration-nursing programmes about the importance of providing appropriate palliative and end of life care.

Together with Dr Robert MacDonald in the School of Art and Design, she helped establish a new relationship between the Architecture School and Mental Health Nursing, exploring how architecture can help people with dementia. She is also playing a key role in helping LJMU become a dementia friendly university. Denise also represents the Faculty of Education, Health and Community at the Liverpool Dementia Action Alliance and is also involved with the Liverpool CCG Community Charter Group.

Dr Stephen Tang, Department of Computer Science, received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for his creative student employability initiatives.

Dr Tang’s award reflects his creative approach to embedding professional skills development within LJMU’s Digital Creative Technologies degrees to boost students’ future employment prospects. Recent projects include helping students developed an interactive game to mark the launch ‘The Danny’, as part of the Daniel Adamson tug boat restoration project at Liverpool Maritime Museum. He also organised LJMU’s first Game Showcase, promoting students’ talents to the general public and industry professionals. He has initiated numerous community-based student projects, using games technology on projects with Liverpool Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy Department and St. Vincent de Paul Primary School. He is also leading a knowledge transfer partnership project on tele-rehabilitation using games technology. His inspirational teaching was recognised by his students, who nominated him for the 2016 LiverpoolSU Amazing Teacher Award in Employability, which he later won.

The Physical Activity Exchange (PAEx) received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for their exceptional work on the Global Active City Development (GACD) Project.

Over the past 18 months, the PAEX team have been working with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to develop and launch a new programme called ‘Global Active City Development’ (GACD). Initially envisioned as an important element of the legacy for Olympic cities, GACD is now being developed as a worldwide programme for cities that want to show their commitment to raising levels of physical activity through a co-ordinated population-based approach.

PAEx is now helping develop International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards and advising pilot cities on how to become an ‘Active City’ in countries such as Papua New Guinea, Argentina and Canada. This work is in advance of a planned launch of the IOC Global Active Cities programme in 2017 when Liverpool and LJMU will play a key role in the development of Active Cities around the globe.

The Teacher Education Team received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for their innovative Holding Difficult Conversations Project.

This Initial Teacher Education project has been developed in conjunction with the Liverpool World Centre to raise the confidence of trainee teachers in engaging their pupils in difficult conversations and developing considered responses to the Prevent Duty. It explores how best to create primary school safe spaces to discuss issues such as extremist views, Islamophobia, gender stereotypes, migration and other ‘sensitive’ topics.

The project was established in response to student feedback about their lack of confidence in dealing with such topics when raised by pupils, and was supported by £10,000 curriculum enhancement project funding from the University. By raising the confidence of trainee teachers to teach and respond to their pupils’ needs, they are empowered to respond and adapt to the needs of their pupils rather than simply delivering a predetermined curriculum, creating secure and active learners. By giving children the opportunity to discuss difficult issues openly, a healthy, positive attitude to listening and sharing opposing viewpoints is encouraged, enabling children to make informed choices, without fear of judgement or prejudice.

The LJMU team worked with Liverpool World Centre staff and explored controversial issues through a values framework with reference to the Prevent Duty, British values and other statutory requirements for schools such as PSHE and citizenship. Trainees were taught how to use Philosophy for Children (P4C), a recognised approach to building children’s resilience towards all forms of extremist views. While this project took place in schools, its approach is transferable to all education settings and students.


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