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In this seminar I explore the challenges facing universities when trying to live up to their commitments towards community engagement and the transformation of the social, cultural and economic environment in the regions they serve. I focus on how the University needs to extend beyond the confines of its campuses and the importance of the curriculum being adaptable to respond to external drivers. I draw on two participatory arts and media projects that I led on behalf of UWS to highlight the opportunities and threats that exist when the University takes its research and learning activities outside the lecture theatre or seminar room - physically and virtually. I will stress that whilst universities rightly focus on the delivery of formal, accredited learning they can also make a significant contribution to their constituencies through the realm of informal learning and the production (and circulation) of open educational resources. I will talk about two externally funded practice-research projects that included significant internal stakeholder involvement across UWS. The first of these is citizenrelay, a project that made an impact on the practices of the University by recruiting students as producers of content, providing them with opportunities for volunteering and other paid employment and that brought about discussion of curriculum changes as a result. Second, I will focus on an ongoing project, Digital Commonwealth, which takes UWS staff and students outside the boundaries of their traditional practice by working with community groups and organisations in the regions around our four campuses and beyond to deliver formal and informal learning in the fields of creative practice (songwriting, filmmaking, creative writing), journalism and community development.
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