Fri 8th September, 2017
The University of Bedfordshire has been shortlisted for the International Impact Award and Excellence & Innovation in the Arts in this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.
The University has been recognised in the ‘International Impact’ award for a transnational project led by Sociology lecturer Dr Helen Connolly which saw it working with the survivors of the Srebrenica genocide and the charity Remembering Srebrenica to challenge hatred and division in Bosnia and Bedfordshire.
It has also been shortlisted for the Excellence & Innovation in the Arts award for the work of academic Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska in interrogating post-colonial trauma in Zimbabwe through a her collaborative film projects and writings.
Dr Piotrowska’s films Lovers in Time and Escape and published monograph Black and White: cinema, politics and the arts in Zimbabwe take a complex look at race and gender relations in post-colonial societies.
Her films have sparked heated debate, with some journalists and community leaders in Zimbabwe accusing the production of being too bold, whilst others praised it for being a catalyst for change and a way of introducing a different mode of thinking about the painful past and gender issues.
A Reader in Film Practice and Theory at the University, Dr Piotrowska said: “It is fantastic news to be nominated for the Excellence & Innovation in the Arts award for my film work in Zimbabwe and my monograph Black and White.
“It is a tribute to the University of Bedfordshire for having created the space and provided the support for such cross-disciplinary projects that confirm the value of practice-based theory and artistic collaborations across cultures.”
Dr Connolly, who is also Chair of the East of England Board Remembering Srebrenica, made it possible for students from the University’s School of Applied Social Studies to go to Bosnia and attend Remembering Srebrenica’s flagship educational programme. The students met survivors of the genocide to understand the drivers and consequences of multi-cultural breakdown. This learning at eye level had a profound effect on the students and they pledged to create a meaningful legacy from their visit.
A UK tour was organised in February 2016 for survivors to share their stories as a counterpoint to their silence and injustice in Bosnia.
Dr Connolly, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology, said: “I am delighted to be shortlisted for this award. Our collaboration with Remembering Srebrenica and the genocide and war survivors in Bosnia has been extremely profound. It has acted as an important counterpoint to the historical silence and injustice in Bosnia and opened up national conversations about the genocide.
“I hope that being shortlisted for this award will build on what has already been achieved, and prompt even more opportunities for further conversation in Bosnia.”
Bill Rammell Vice Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire said: “I am proud that the University of Bedfordshire has been recognised in the shortlisting of these awards. Much of our work has a very visible impact on the world and these two projects are excellent examples.
“The first challenges the politics of demonization, one of the biggest challenges to human rights in the world, while the other tackles issues of gender, race and the historical wounds being faced in post-colonial Zimbabwe. Neither subject makes for easy reading but both need to be addressed if we are to live in a safer and more tolerant world.”
Times Higher EducationEditor John Gill said: "Once again these awards have attracted hundreds of entries from the length and breadth of the nation, and from institutions of every hue.
“All those shortlisted can be immensely proud to have made it through this first phase, and we at Times Higher Education look forward to honouring the winners for their talent, creativity and commitment at a time for the academy when these qualities are increasingly essential."
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