Public Engagement – Geography and Planning
Since our Centenary of the establishment of the first School of Geography in Britain in 1917, we have given a series of public lectures that convey the key findings and contribution of our research in Geography and Planning. These lectures, the Roxby Lectures, are also aimed at the AQA A-level Geography curriculum to support the delivery of Geography across schools in Liverpool City Region and the Archdiocese of Liverpool. Further, since 2018, these lectures have been co-sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society regional committee for Cheshire and North Wales.
The CTL is an important vehicle for Geography and Planning public engagement and outreach. Hands-on laboratory activities engage the public with issues such as climate change, coastal flooding, environmental pollution and human impact on the world’s ecosystems. Events have included Dangerous Science, the University of Liverpool Open House, Big Bang Northwest and Ness Garden’s annual open day. We are currently working up a series of events with local schools, Liverpool City Council and LCR Combined Authority (as well as other academic institutions nationally) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and to further deliver its ambition.
Geography and Planning are also playing a key role in ‘greening’ the City of Liverpool. Urban GreenUP is a collaboration with Liverpool City Council and the Mersey Forest that is applying nature-based solutions across the city to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to enhance environmental quality and wellbeing. We have developed a network of sensors across the city for air quality monitoring and a scheme for evaluating the success of ‘green infrastructure’ interventions. Air quality was also the theme of a public arts programme we completed with ENGAGE Liverpool.
Further co-working with LCR Combined Authority, LCR Local Enterprise Partnership and Liverpool City Council aims to meet our ‘Clean Growth’ ambitions. For example, the Low-Carbon Ecoinnovatory is working with the broad community of SMEs in LCR to provide R&D support for eco-innovative products and services that reduce energy use and waste. Working with the City Council, we have report on the full range of climate-related threats to Liverpool and, more recently, the potential for generating and storing renewable energy locally from tidal, wind and solar sources. We have also advised on the forthcoming LCR Energy Strategy. In rising to the challenge of our recently declared Climate Emergency, we are working with activists in Liverpool to develop conceptions of social and solidarity economies as alternatives to business-as-usual growth, and partnering with the RTPI and the City Region to help develop climate resilience policy for LCR’s forthcoming Spatial Development Strategy.
To improve the resilience of the City Region’s housing supply chain, a new partnership has been established between the University of Liverpool and the One Public Estate (OPE) Programme. OPE focuses on public land and property, and maximising the value of sale and redevelopment of those public assets through delivering support and funding to local authorities in England. We are currently working with local authorities, housing associations and the private sector within LCR to explore barriers to Offsite construction and ways to overcome those barriers. Furthermore, we are supporting community development in LCR through the co-production of Neighbourhood Plans with experts and students from the University of Liverpool, LCR officers and members and third sector stakeholders to understand how more communities within the LCR can take up the opportunities available to them. Community engagement is now extending to outreach collaborations with schools in North Liverpool and with Everton FC around the relocation of the new football ground.
Geography and Planning are partners in the PLACED Academy, a programme based in Liverpool to inspire the next generation of place makers from the North West about the built environment. Particularly through the Ed’s Place collaboration we connect to schools, communities, decision makers and businesses across the NW in the areas of planning, urban design and regional development.
In relation to our Digital research theme, Industrial Strategy funding has funded a review of digital and data infrastructure capacity and wider best practice within LCR. This platform will enable us to become one of the first three City–University partnerships to join Metrolabs network. In addition, our recently re-commissioned ESRC Centre for Doctoral Training works closely with a range of external partners from commercial and public sector bodies, both locally and nationally.
Public engagement in relation to our social science research and impact is varied in focus and activity. For example, the animation from of our Flying while Fat project has received more than 350,000 views on YouTube. This work has centred on the experiences of fat airline passengers in terms of physical infrastructure and social attitudes – highlighting the hyper-reality of the body. The project debuted at Liverpool’s DaDaFest in November 2016 and was exhibited at the Bluecoast and the Tate in December that year. Our research on the social and industrial history of Merseyside includes Ten Years on the Parish - a project, set up by Writing on the Wall with the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund, celebrating and preserving the legacy of the Liverpool born writer, George Garrett (1896-1966). The publishing of Garrett’s autobiography and letters was celebrated at an event on Mayday 2017, supported by the Mayor’s Office and the NW TUC, that followed a 5m-high model of Garrett from Toxteth Library to the Walker Art Gallery. Further collaboration with Writing on the Wall, funded through the Centre for Hidden Histories, resulted in a project on the 1919 race riots in Liverpool. This project undertook detailed mapping of the events and locations of individuals affected by the post-war riots, and was brought to light by a walking tour through the city of Liverpool in October 2017 that explored the history and urban geography of the riots.