Andrew Church – Non-executive director, Boingboing, Professor of Geography, University of Brighton

I’ve been really lucky to work in the University sector for over 30 years and I’m now a Professor of Geography. I’ve seen lots of changes in universities especially since fees have been introduced. But I’ve always tried to get involved in activities that help me think of different ways universities can interact with society to promote positive social change. I also hope doing this will challenge me and stop me as an academic becoming inward looking. It’s been great to work on a series of research projects over the years with Angie, Simon, Lisa, Scott, Kim, Josh and other Boingboing staff and volunteers, where we have tried to explore new and creative ways that Boingboing and university staff can work together with other community partners to benefit often marginalised communities outside universities. Recently I worked on the Imagine Programme research project, in which Boingboing team members were central to Brighton University’s work, exploring new ways of connecting communities and universities through research.

A really exciting recent project I was part of involved Boingboing and staff from a number of universities working with Khulisa Social Solutions, a community organisation in South Africa, to understand how young people could promote resilience in communities in South Africa affected by drought. The ‘United We Stand’ film and the policy briefing, that were co-developed with young people and community partners, are really impressive and highlight the important roles young people can play in planning for and dealing with drought.

Boingboing is now a high profile Community Interest Company (CIC) and I was keen to be a non-executive director, since it will give me a better insight into how universities can play a role in working in mutually beneficial ways with these types of organisation and the social enterprise sector in general to promote social justice. I will really benefit from the work being done by PhD students connected to Boingboing, like Naz and Mirika, who will identify new ways that social enterprise and CICs can work together with universities. I hope I will have something to offer Boingboing, and will keep you updated on the blog on what it is like to be a non-executive director for Boingboing.

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