Norwich Open Space – Review

Our first Open Space event was held in Norwich 27th November 2021. Here are the key topics participants discussed wanting to be the point of UEA’s civic focus:

This image shows four local Norwich citizens walking around UEA trails. The sun is shining and the backs of their bodies are just out of focus, creating a relaxed and wistful effect.
Image of local Norwich citizens walking around UEA trails.

Resources

Participants highlighted the need for more university resources in the local community and how we could use them to benefit local life civically – one job for our team now is to help people understand university income streams and where and how its money is spent so that we can collaborate effectively with our local people!

The image shows a student wearing a mask for COVID-19 security on campus. She looks serious and determined.
Image of a student wearing a mask for COVID safety on campus.

Inequality Issues

Participants also discussed what civic could mean for racial and gendered issues and inequalities linked to place, social class and educational attainment (and the crossovers between them).

This image shows students working in the Student Union on campus. There is a warm orange glow illuminating the cafe scene. Lots of students are sitting with friends, their laptops out, talking or working.
Image of students working in the Student Union on campus.

Place Bias

Another key theme was asking: how can we make future civic activity less Norwich centric? This leads to questions such as what space is there for the local community in further-afield areas to come and share their ideas with UEA? Setting this up is vital in order to carry out continuous, useful civic activity throughout the whole of the region rather than just in Norwich.

Image of participants gathered in the introductory circle of the Norwich Open Space event, showing a UEA student, there to help run the day, raising an agenda idea.
Image of participants gathered in the introductory circle of the Norwich Open Space event, showing a participant raising an agenda idea.

Safety

Finally, it was highlighted that a key area UEA could be more focused on, in terms of civic activity, was increasing safety within the local community. This covered ongoing struggles with COVID-19, women’s safety, and people from minority backgrounds. How could a civic agreement benefit these groups of people who face safety threats?

The image shows a participant addressing the Open Space circle at the Norwich event, 27th November 2021. He is standing behind the microphone explaining his agenda idea and looks excited to discuss it.
Image of participant addressing the Open Space circle at the Norwich event, 27th November 2021.

Conclusion

UEA has a lot it could be doing in the local community; although we are already highly involved, listening to what our local people want from us has provided a clearer vision for future activity. The more we listen to our people and place, the more useful we can be to them as an anchor institution.

If you are from the Norfolk/Suffolk region and would like to share your ideas with us on how UEA’s civic activity could benefit you and your local area, register your interest here.

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