At the University of South Wales, we are passionate about making a difference in our communities.
Through our research outputs and academic activity, we are developing and strengthening valuable links by working with policy makers, community learning groups and national cultural organisations.
Our work is directly informed by the communities of Wales, encouraging active citizenship by including the public in social, cultural and political conversations. These scholarly activities and research profiles also exemplify the guidelines provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Welsh Government to develop further regional and national civic leadership, focusing in particular on social innovation.
Shaping the Cultural Landscape of Wales
The Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations, based in the Faculty of Creative Industries, supports and disseminates the various creative expressions that come to signify the communities of Wales; shaping the ways in which the country is represented internationally by offering expertise and guidance to national bodies on their creative strategies, artistic choices and future programming. With its awareness that the creative industries in South Wales are the new ‘coal and steel’ of the future, the Faculty plays a pivotal role in shaping its cultural landscape, but its consciousness of its history, of its origins in the mining industry of South Wales, further embeds the University within its civic context. It offers innovative ways of engaging with the past, through art, performance and research, which in turn work to influence the cultural and creative future of Wales.
Understanding Wales’s Global Trade History
Professor Chris Evans, Historian of Atlantic Slavery, works alongside community activists in a National Heritage Lottery Fund scheme to bring to light Wales’ involvement in the Atlantic Slave system, which has received little attention in major historical narratives. His project aims to highlight a shared inter-cultural dialogue between the people of Wales and those subjected to the horrors of slavery; offering new ways of understanding the global trade history of Wales, through the production of textiles that were used to clothe enslaved workers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Prof Evans seeks to further explore the creation, trade and uses of ‘Welsh Plains’ or ‘Negro Cloth’, in order to extend public understanding of the historical links between Wales and Atlantic slavery, bringing together contemporary craft workers and BAME communities. The project also informs education awareness narratives that work to promote social cohesion by including inter-racial narratives in the overarching story of Wales.
Supporting Community Health and Wellbeing
Professor Gareth Roderique-Davies and Professor Bev John, who lead USW’s Addictions Research Group, work alongside Public Health Wales and third sector organisations to explore the lack of standardisation in the diagnosis of Alcohol Related Brain Damage (ARBD), and the reliance of clinicians on non-specific measures in the treatment of cognitive impairment brought about by the misuse of alcohol. Their work, which was initiated by the lack of funding for rehabilitation services working to assist those suffering with ARBD, exemplifies the way in which academic research can actively support the community in terms of its health and well-being. Prof Roderique-Davies and Prof John suggested that the lack of research surrounding the condition has led to its low prioritisation in funding budgets for community support organisations. The civic impact of the project is twofold: firstly, it enables clinicians to make informed, evidence-based decisions when selecting appropriate tests for ARBD; secondly, in highlighting the prevalence of the condition in areas such as South Wales, it encourages funders and commissioners of services to prioritise ARBD and support organisations who work to improve the lives of those living with the condition.
Promoting Social Cohesion in our Communities
Dr Mike Chick, USW’s Refugee Champion, works to address the issues surrounding the provision of English language courses to those seeking asylum in Wales, by helping increase understanding of the needs of refugees and highlighting the barriers they face in accessing future education and employment. By examining the linguistic support currently in place, Dr Chick identifies variations in learners’ needs according to educational background, language levels, professional qualifications and employment aspirations. In doing so, he aims to establish ‘contextual’ ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) programmes that cater to the needs of the individual learner. His findings have enabled him to identify the most appropriate approaches to meet these needs and he works to increase English language provision for refugees across Wales.