Bluebells and festivals – International Women’s Day, SFOSE and SHU Fest

The days are lengthening. It’s now almost daylight when I leave the house in the morning, and the garden is turning green – bluebells are appearing across all the beds in the garden. We inherited them from the previous owners and they are the highly invasive Spanish variety, which are almost impossible to control. But they are an indication that as the days lengthen, so the season is changing. It will soon be Spring and, as the seasons change, so Sheffield Hallam sees some major events and festivals.

Wednesday 8 March 2017 is International Women’s Day. First celebrated in New York in 1909, International Women’s Day soon became an occasion for demonstrations around the world in support of women’s suffrage and working rights. On International Women’s Day 1917 it was the march for ‘bread and peace’ in Petrograd which launched the Russian Revolution. It has become a commemoration of the rights and struggles of women globally; the theme this year is ‘Be Bold For Change’. Sheffield Hallam is hosting eight events for staff, students, and members of the public to attend.

For the third year running, we are hosting a joint event with The University of Sheffield; speakers include Professor Christina Hughes, PVC for Student Experience, and Natalie Bennett formerly leader of the Green Party. Other IWD highlights include a public lecture by Dr Alison Twells on Mary-Anne Rawson and her contributions to the anti-slavery movement; and a variety of regional female entrepreneurs, women in STEM, and female leaders in academia sharing their career experiences. There will be live performances from dance groups providing support to women, including a One Billion Rising dance flash mob on Wednesday at 3pm in the Level 2 Atrium in Owen.

Each year we have seen an increase in male staff contributing to IWD initiatives. This year, my colleagues John Leach, Paul Harrison, Wayne Cranton, Lloyd Snellgrove and Richard Hughes are contributing to ‘Becoming an Active Witness’, which looks at the effects of exclusion and discriminatory behaviours – and how they can be challenged.

Hallam’s IWD events focus on the sustained and far-reaching positive impact those that work or study here have had. Staff and students were asked to nominate women who have made a difference to their communities, been inspirational, or been bold to change the status quo. We received 34 nominations of women – students, staff and alumni – whose voluntary and entrepreneurial drive is having an impact on communities – regionally and internationally, including Beth Speake, a Hallam PhD student researching the impact of benefit sanctions on women who have experienced rape and sexual violence; Ellie Simpson, a Hallam student who has founded CP Teens UK to help young people with Cerebral Palsy, like Ellie herself; Herine Oteno, a Kenyan PhD student on a Commonwealth scholarship, shaping a technology supported eco-system of emerging African scholars; and Gillian Priday, who, while working as a staff nurse and completing a MSc in Nursing, serves on the RCN Children and Young People’s forum advocating for children and young people with specialist nursing care needs. All our nominees will be profiled around campus and on social media. We celebrate the creativity, entrepreneurial and altruistic spirit of women motivated to better the world they are in, to challenge bias and inequality, campaign against violence, champion women’s education, forge women’s advancement – in fact, to be bold for change.

Sheffield Festival of Science and Engineering (#SFOSE) is led by Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield along with other organisations across the city. Coinciding with British Science Week, the festival runs from 9 to 19 March, and is designed to celebrate science, engineering, mathematics and technology across South Yorkshire. Hallam is one of the United Kingdom’s major science universities and this is a celebration of science and the University’s contributions. The festival runs every two years, and more than 10,600 people have attended the festival’s public programmes since it launched in 2013. There are over 50 free events taking place through March 2017. Everyone is welcome: children, young people and adults alike – with events, talks and activities for all. Events take place all over the city in university labs, lecture theatres, museums, pubs, the Winter Garden and even the Moor Market; a full programme is at It includes a schools programme, through which researchers from both universities and partner organisations will visit more than 100 schools across South Yorkshire.

Fun for the whole family at SFOSE

Fun for the whole family at SFOSE

The public festival features a wide range of free events, open to everyone. For example, we have the Explore Science and Engineering event here at SHU on 11 March, which will have 20 stands featuring hands-on science experiments and activities for the whole family to enjoy. There will also be a chance for the public to experience technologies of the future at the Festival. Co-biotics: Our Future Shared with Robots will take place on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 March at the Crucible Theatre, demonstrating the potential of human-robot collaboration. There will also be a hands-on exhibition on Saturday 11 March where a living room comes to the Winter Garden to allow visitors to test how new technology can help people to live well and age well in the future. There are individual highlights: Prof. Laura Serrant’s lecture championing the science and art of nursing for health on 16 March is our annual Athena SWAN lecture.

SHU Fest is Hallam’s own celebration of the talent and diversity of our students and staff, organised by them. It takes place between 6 and 12 March, including live performances, interactive workshops and social events across the University including film screenings, music, dancing, craft, cookery and more. This year’s SHU Fest line-up includes a performance by the SHSU Band, Three Profs and a Percussionist (Roger Eccleston’s band), a tour of Sheffield’s Victorian music halls, the Big SHU Quiz (raising funds for charity), a daily cultural celebration event and a Give it a Go salsa session, as well as the dance flash mob to support One Billion Rising as part of IWD. There are 48 cultural events in total and a promotional video can be found here.

There’s a SHU Fest selfie competition running throughout the week: take a selfie at any of the SHU Fest events or with a SHU Fest booklet and post it to social media with the hashtag #SHUfest. Student winners will receive Amazon vouchers; unfortunately, there are no prizes for the ‘Staff Category’ – just the pure satisfaction if you win (though I am happy to donate some Spanish bluebells).

One thought on “Bluebells and festivals – International Women’s Day, SFOSE and SHU Fest

  1. Thank you for supporting and highlighting these major events, which many staff and students are contributing to.

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