What makes a difference to you?

30 March 2012

Do you care about reducing the environmental impact of mining? Do we need to reduce the uptake of smoking? The University of Sydney is using its most prominent academics and alumni to find out what Australians care about and give the wider community a better idea of the impact of its work.

The What Matters community engagement campaign brings together people from across the University's spectrum to talk about how their work has made a difference in the world. Members of the public are invited to indicate whether issues highlighted on the site matter to them and find out more about these issues through video interviews with specialist 'leading light' academics or graduates.

Leading lights will also participate in online chat sessions for What Matters.

"The idea of this campaign is to give people who don't venture onto our campuses or know much about our work a better idea of what we do and how it impacts on Australia," says University Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence.

"Although teaching students is a fundamental role of the University, our research is just as important and touches the lives of most of Australians.

"If you've had a brush with cancer, have children at school or catch the bus to work, chances are we've got people doing research that interests you and affects your day-to-day life."

Poll results from the website will be ranked and posted on a daily basis, ranking each of the issues traversed on What Matters. These results offer an informal snapshot of issues that are important to Australians.

"The flipside of spreading the word on the breadth of our work is to find out which of the research areas featuring in the campaign resonate with people," Dr Spence says.

What Matters starts on 2 April. Five leading lights will feature initially, including tobacco campaigner Professor Simon Chapman and artist and alumnus Ben Quilty. A new list of academics and alumni will join the campaign each month.

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Media enquiries: Jocelyn Prasad, 02 9114 1382, 

Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809,