Short clips from each enquiry group during Grand Challenges Week 2017
UniCorn App - a presentation by Food for Thought 2017 students
Brexit and Trade - a poster looking at how companies should prepare for Brexit
Free Climate presentation - click here to see the climate app idea presented to primary school students
Have a look at the Fresh Reads blog
Outputs are what the students work to produce within their groups by the end of the week. It is their solution to the problem they’re attempting to solve.
To further showcase some of the great work that students produced, here there will be case studies of specific outputs, with other examples to show just how diverse the work produced at the end of the week can be.
The first case study comes from one of the groups from Physical Activity to Enhance Wellbeing. Laura Bunce, one of the students from the group, gave us an overview as to how they came up with their idea and how they’re looking to give the project a legacy:
“We were introduced to our group, and began brainstorming what we already knew about the topic of mental health. We then conducted research into how we could use physical activity to improve various symptoms.
We decided very quickly that we wanted to target the student population as being students ourselves, we knew the demographic well. We then decided we wanted to carry on the work of the Mind Your Head Society, but implement a new physical activity branch, increasing student participation and awareness.
We came up with the idea of a free, graded exercise programme (based on recent research we viewed) to make our campaign suitable for everyone, by having opportunities to participate in the comfort of your own home or on group trips. We recognise that the participation itself could be challenging for someone with mental health problems, which is why we tried to make it as ‘user-friendly’ as possible! It would also be structured so students would be able to continue it in the holidays.
For the actual output, we created a leaflet which explained our concept, and the scientific reasoning behind the graded system, and general benefits of being more active. We also created 3 walking/running routes around Exeter which people could do at their own leisure or with one of the established groups. Finally, we designed promotional T-shirts which showed our logo, surnames and grand challenges logo.
We would love to implement our concept in September starting in Fresher’s week! We created the outputs as we believe there isn’t anything like it currently in place in Exeter, and students would really benefit from it. It is hopefully accessible to all students in some way, and because of its flexibility people wouldn’t feel pressurised to move between different groups of exercises unless they wanted to.
We’d be looking to try and break the stigma associated with mental health, and emphasise that everyone has mental health- it is just as important as our physical wellbeing. The project isn’t just for those previously diagnosed; it’s for anyone who wants the opportunity to explore Exeter and increase their physical activity levels.”
The second case study is one from one of the groups within Climate Resilience. George Gordon, a student from the group, discusses here how the idea came into fruition:
Our Grand Challenges group was remarkably diverse comprising Exeter undergraduates from a number of different disciplines, countries and year groups; and our main challenge was selecting a single climate resilience case study where our views were aligned and we were in complete agreement. Potential topics for the project ranged from macro-geographical concerns such as endemic drought in Africa, to more biologically-centred investigations into the erosion of Coral Reefs. However, in the end, the proposal that jumped out at us was made by Tomomi, a Japanese exchange student, who told us a story about increasingly more common bear attacks in Northern Japan, due to their diminishing natural habitats. She even showed us an email that her university had sent all the students warning them to be on the lookout for bears.
This ecological phenomenon combined contemporary relevance with a niche curiosity, and everyone in the group thought it worthy of investigation. We had decided that rather than opting for a more generic global-warming study, the bear attacks bring a focus on the very real consequences of climate change within an unusual and little-known environment, and one which we hoped would interest other groups and the panel for the showcase on Friday.
For our presentation, we needed a medium of interpretation which matched the uniqueness of the subject. One initial idea was to dress someone up in a bear costume and have them act out our solutions. Fortunately, it was at this point I remembered that I had some software on my laptop which captured pictures in the stop-motion animation style of films like Wallace and Gromit – and suggested half-jokingly that we could use this to animate our solutions with mini-bear props, as supposed to pressganging one unfortunate member of the group into dressing up as a rogue Winnie the Pooh.
The more we discussed the notion, the more popular it became with the group. We split up into three teams: one to work on the presentation, one to design the poster and one for the animated film.
Our team assembled a makeshift filming studio in the darkest room we could find, the LT1 lecture theatre. On a shoestring budget of only £10, we purchased all the materials necessary to create the set and our ‘actors’: respectively some green card to simulate grass, and a number of make-your-own-animal playdough sets. Due to the nature of cinematography and the deadline we were working to, we weren’t going for hyper-realism, but a portrayal which remained accessible to others whilst remaining educational and informative.
We modelled two bears and some Japanese people, one even wearing a gi – inspired by an article we had found which claimed a 63-year-old fisherman had fought off a bear with karate. We sourced other props featured from all around the university; one member of our team contacted the campus nursery to enquire about borrowing Lego bricks for the ‘Physical Deterrents’ scene, and I even helped myself to the director’s clapper board from The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in the Old Library for the opening sequence.
Our presentation won both the popular vote and the judge’s category vote.
One of the Business Strategies for Brexit groups – Student Farm Cooperative – decided to look at Brexit and farming, having listened to Andrew Butler of the National Farmers’ Union earlier in the week. Here the group outline their thinking and how they’re looking to take the project forward:
“Our work showed us that in a time of great uncertainty farm businesses need strategies to thrive in the post-Brexit climate.
The relationship and links between British farmers with existing and wider markets will be critical. Brexit will result in the removal of €3 billion of subsidies from the UK farming industry. Already impacted by low profitability, with some sectors struggling to break even, farming is vulnerable to political policy, fluctuations in regulations and funding. Though farming has always embraced diversification and innovation the uncertainty of the post Brexit climate requires new strategies that support the future of farm businesses. Due to our limited knowledge we could not offer strategy for individual specialist businesses, so we identified other ways in which our group’s skill set could be beneficial.
This led us to considering the need for better strategic links between farming and the UK’s 2 million students - not just a market place but young people who will influence business, policy and the future of the UK and the world. Instead of suggesting a strategy of farming forming better links with students, our initiative is to create a vehicle for them to do it —the Student Farm Cooperative, connecting farming with the future.
Initially we produced our information hub idea - a website: www.studentfarmcoop.org.uk - accompanied by a leaflet explaining the different types of Brexit that farmers could face to present the problem at the Forum Showcase and as an example of what could be distributed to a wider audience. We will be sending the leaflet to the National Farmers Union in Devon and inviting farming groups and businesses to link to our website. During the Grand Challenges Showcase and presentations we pitched our idea to the Student’s Guild and external representatives of organizations in Exeter. In September we are asking if we can present our ideas to Devon National Farmer’s Union.
We started blogging about what we had covered during Grand Challenges week and publicised Open Farm Sunday, the farming industry’s national open day, using social media to start encouraging students to visit our local farms. This aims to help people find out about the story behind our food.
Student Farm Cooperative Leaflet considered what happened after the UK loses EU funding for farmers, if the UK leaves or remains in the Single Market, free trade agreements with non EU countries and what farms can do to reduce risks. It then introduced the idea of the Student Farm Cooperative for connecting farming with the future. We produced t-shirts and some merchandise - cow key chains as examples of the type of ideas that could be used to network students with their local farming businesses and produce.
After the summer break we hope to work with the Grand Challenges team, the Student’s Guild, Devon National Farmers Union and other local groups to take our idea further."
Amelie Sievers and her group, of the Mental Health Challenge, worked in conjunction with the Wellbeing Services to devise their output. Here Amelie discusses what issue they wanted to address, and how they’re looking to continue their project in September:
"We wanted to investigate a practical reason for why people don't seek help as, stigma for example, is such an abstract concept. It was also important to us to produce something of relevance to students and something that we could actually help to change in a small way.
We thought about why students here at Exeter wouldn't want to access services that were offered to them and noticed the language used on the website might be off putting. We weren't sure at all if it would be relevant and wanted to find out in a scientific way. Our small study shows that it is.
I discussed the findings with the Guild President who was very keen to carry this forward and put us in touch with the head of student experience. I will be in further contact with him in September. The Welfare Sabbatical Officer organised for language used in the Wellbeing Service to be a topic of discussion in a focus group with both service users and those who didn't seek help. Next year I will also arrange a meeting with the head of Wellbeing.
We chose a poster as we felt it would be the most efficient and scientific way to present our results. We hoped it would be eye-catching and summarise the most important findings, our more extended findings were on a screen next to the poster at the showcase."