On 25th October, the Welsh Government, in partnership with Cardiff University, hosted the Civic Mission Summit. Attended by over 150 higher education leaders, academics and community representatives, the event was an opportunity for the sector to come together to discuss the Civic Mission Agenda. A year on from the Cabinet Secretary’s speech launching the mission, institutions were able to reflect on and celebrate some of the ongoing work in this area, share best practice, and to discuss the challenges and opportunities in meeting it.
Key note speeches from prominent thinkers and academics in the field provided an introduction for delegates into current thinking and ideas within the field, whilst the Cabinet Secretary reflected on the sector’s work on meeting the mission during a keynote speech.
The Cabinet Secretary celebrated the work of Welsh universities in meeting the mission, arguing that it exemplifies the relationship between the campus, the community and the world. Highlighting the role of universities in connecting the local and the global as increasingly important as we meet the challenges of Brexit, she articulated her belief that universities must be global in their outlook, but stewards of their communities, and the people who live there.
Presentations of institutional case studies of civic engagement provided a platform to discuss the challenges and opportunities of meeting this agenda within universities; with discussions on how to deliver, fund and measure the civic mission and questions over how to support staff and students to engage with it. Presentations introduced work on Modern Foreign Language mentoring, STEM outreach work, partnerships on wound innovation and technology, and community sports development.
Chair of Universities Wales Professor Julie Lydon OBE gave the afternoon’s keynote speech, celebrating Welsh Higher Education’s rich history of civic engagement, noting how our civic mission is Wales-wide, and it’s diverse “A University plays its role in schools, communities and businesses, not just in the lecture theatre or seminar room.”
Prof Lydon highlighted how institutions are working together in partnership and with their communities to further the health and wellbeing of Wales, grow employment and investment, work with schools to foster aspiration and access, and to support and develop their communities. Prof Lydon also noted how Universities have a valuable impact on communities not just through the work they do aimed at communities, but also in how they facilitate opportunities for students to participate in and engage with civic society.
Highlighting the importance of the summit as not only to highlight the good work that’s being carried out across Wales, but as an opportunity to plot out where we go next, Professor Lydon emphasised the aspiration within the sector in finding new, collaborative and truly national ways to meet the agenda, and that our universities welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s vision. “As part of our communities, and key players in Wales’s future, that’s our most important civic mission”.
A full copy of Prof Lydon’s speech can be found here