September 8, 2017, by jicke

University joins new agreement to strengthen UK-China space education and culture relationship

The University of Nottingham has signed a partnership agreement with leading space scientists from the UK and China which aims to enrich each nation’s space education and space culture activities.

The two nations are already working together under the UK-China Joint Laboratory Programme in Space Science and Technology, which was established in 2016 and is led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) with support from the China National Space Administration and the UK Space Agency.

As part of the programme and with support from STFC and the British Embassy in Beijing, the UK National Space Academy held a series of intensive masterclasses in 2016 for hundreds of Chinese students and teachers selected from across the country. Nottingham Geospatial Institute, the Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre located on University of Nottingham Innovation Park as well as University of Nottingham Ningbo China have all played a key role to support the National Space Academy in the programme.

Memorandum of Understanding
The programme has been so successful that a Memorandum of Understanding has now been signed by both nations, which sets out the intentions to establish a new Virtual Centre to lead on space education and space culture activities between the UK and China. The Virtual Centre will build on the success of the existing programme, and expand the network of partners from research and education, and include cultural organisations such as science museums.

The aim for the new Virtual Centre is to develop new relationships in the UK and China space sectors in education, research and cultural awareness, by inspiring the next generation of scientists, facilitating closer international collaboration, and bringing together the best minds from the UK with the best in China.

And while the joint Centre will help to spread space education across China, UK students and teachers will be offered the chance to participate in joint summer school programmes including visits to China astronaut training and launch centres and, for the first time, joint UK-China education experiments will be developed to fly in China’s space programme.

Combined expertise
The Centre will be led by The Consortium of Chinese Laboratories (CCL) and the UK National Space Academy, and the University of Nottingham will be a key partner in culture as well as in some education programmes via the China Cultural Visiting Hub (CCVH) launched by Asia Business Centre in 2014.

The Hub brings together a network of academics with diverse interests in the museums, galleries and heritage sectors in China across archaeology, engineering, architecture, digital humanities. The combined expertise of the academics in the group facilitates a holistic approach to the study of art, material culture and curation in a China context which allows them to deliver research, consultancy and continuing professional development in the broad range of areas above. The Hub capitalises on the resources of its campus in Ningbo, such as the newly established UNNC Incubator Park and the expertise of the China and UK research and business development teams. CCVH has attracted support from China Prosperity Fund to deliver curator leadership development programme, such as partnering with V&A and China Academy of Sciences and IVPP.

Sarah Kerr, who leads on CCVH, welcomed this opportunity, ‘The University hosts a number of leading science communication specialists across astronomy, chemistry, geospatial, space, architecture, physics, archaeology and computer science, such as Prof Sir Martyn Poliakoff CBE in Chemistry), Prof Jon Henderson in underwater archaeology, the Astronomy Group and colleagues in our China campus in digital heritage. All these can support China to increase its capacity to provide the public with products and services that popularise science.’

Jason Feehily, Director of Knowledge Exchange Asia at the University of Nottingham, said: “The University of Nottingham is delighted to partner with the National Space Academy to support the cultural and educational programmes of this expanded new Virtual Centre. The combined expertise of our China Cultural Visiting Hub that integrates science and arts across our UK, China and Malaysia campuses will contribute to a dynamic and sustained science and cultural engagement programme between China and the UK.”

Once the partnership is established, it is hoped that it could be expanded to include other international space agencies.

Professor Anu Ojha OBE, Director of the UK National Space Academy, said: “I am confident that the work of the new Centre will become a central foundation of the UK-China space relationship and will lead to new innovative programmes in the fields of space education, skills development and culture. I very much look forward to working with the University of Nottingham in helping us achieve our goals for the Centre.”

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