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Pioneering project puts UEA at the heart of the Norfolk community

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 June 2011

UEA Vice Chancellor Prof Edward Acton  at the reception for CUE East where he announced the winners of the Cue East Individual Awards which are celebrating the UEA staff and students who have done most in the local community.

UEA Vice Chancellor Prof Edward Acton at the reception for CUE East where he announced the winners of the Cue East Individual Awards which are celebrating the UEA staff and students who have done most in the local community.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

The CUE East scheme (Community University Engagement) was set up three years ago and sees academics working with charities and organ-isations to impact on the lives of thousands of people in Norwich and beyond.

The pilot scheme, now in its fourth year, has so far helped 41 projects in Norwich and Norfolk come to fruition.

Successes so far include organising Norwich’s first Sustainable Living Festival in The Forum, working with the Big Urban Heat Experiment to chart how Norwich influences its own climate, and setting up a new Sustainability Challenge Badge for Girlguiding Norfolk: this has since been rolled out nationally.

The engagement project, which has received a total of £1.2m from the Beacon Funders (Higher Education Councils, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust) over the four- year programme, is funding 14 schemes. Those chosen to receive £51,000 of funding this year were selected because they will increase the university’s engagement with local communities, use Norwich Research Park expertise (UEA, the Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre) and promote sustainable living. Some of those to prosper from the funding include year nine pupils at Sheringham High School, who will combine geological fieldwork with poetry to learn about the ancient worlds and primeval creatures that once lived in the Lost Worlds of Norfolk.

Project leader Adelene Buckland, of UEA’s School of Literature and Creative Writing, said: “This project will introduce students to the ancient environments and prehistoric creatures which once lived in the area we now call Norfolk. Collecting fossils and studying geological poetry, the students will open their eyes to the weird and wonderful worlds hidden in the sediments and rocks of Norfolk and imagine what our rapidly eroding coast might look like in the future.”

Meanwhile, Aylsham Navigation 2012 will help people to celebrate the history of a nine-mile navigation along the River Bure system, 100 years after it was last used for river traffic.

CUE East steering group chairman Keith Roberts, said: “Once again, we’ve taken a broad approach to defining sustainable living which is reflected in the range of exciting projects that we’re funding this year. The funds panel were particularly impressed with the quality of the partnership and collaboration between the university and community groups.

“Also, as the CUE East programme has developed, we’ve increased our facilitation and support for engagement in university teaching as well as research, and to that end we’re especially pleased to support projects such as History, Heritage and Public Engagement, which embeds engagement into a new third- year undergraduate module.”

Julie Worrall, CUE East project director, said the scheme had proved a huge success and would leave a legacy at the university even after it had finished.

She added: “This is the fourth year of a four-year pilot and it’s really now that we’ve got a wonderful story to tell of university and community engagement at the UEA and 
beyond.

“It’s very much a shared endeavour: it’s about collaboration and working together, not about the university doing to the community but the university working with the community.”

peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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