Last week we spoke to the Civic University Network about the work we're doing here at Bath to develop our civic contribution.
The Civic University Network is the national hub that was set up to support universities developing their civic activities. It runs year-round events which promote best practice sharing, cross-sector working and knowledge transfer.
We spoke to network members about three areas of our work here at Bath:
Our Shared Future
Launched in January 2020, Our Shared Future is a collaborative initiative between the university and our local authority, and is bringing together skills, knowledge and expertise to explore and address major challenges in the City and region. We shared with the network how the programme came about, the challenges we've faced in establishing collaborative working practices with the local authority, and how we've overcome these, and some of the outcomes of the project. We discussed the need for approaches to data sharing and research ethics that are consistent across both organisations, and we highlighted how funding for place-based research has been a challenge over the past year.
Our Civic University Agreement
We outlined the process that we have used through the creation of our civic university agreement and updated the network on the stage we have reached (just started drafting our agreement) and some of the challenges we have faced along the way - including the delays caused by the pandemic and the pressures this put on some of our partners. We outlined the different key elements we're planning to include in our agreement, and how our listening exercises in the local community have helped to shape these.
We spoke about a key element of our civic university agreement, which is to address corporate behaviours across all signatories to the agreement and agree a baseline in areas such as recruitment, HR and procurement which increase benefits to the local area and its people. We outlined how the input of professional expertise within these disciplines has been essential to developing our understanding of the possibilities that exist - from increasing our local purchasing to creating new work experience programmes for local people.
Sharing our experiences with other universities around the country who are also working to increase their civic activity is a fantastic learning opportunity, and allows us to reflect on what we've achieved and what we still have to work on. The questions and input of colleagues at other institutions help us to scrutinise our work and improve it. We thank the Civic University Network for giving us this opportunity and look forward to participating in future events.