University of Sydney taking it to the streets to discover 'What Matters' to you

14 August 2012

The interactive displays allow people to vote for what matters most to them.
The interactive displays allow people to vote for what matters most to them.

Are you concerned about housing affordability? Sick of traffic congestion? Worried that your child may be obese? Alarmed by climate change?

The University of Sydney is taking its quest to find out what matters to people in Australia and all over the world to the heart of Sydney's CBD and the Chatswood business district to engage with our city about its concerns.

From 14 August the ready stream of suits, strollers, tourists and shoppers that pass through Martin Place, World Square and Chatswood will be greeted by interactive visual display sites that will enable members of the public to participate in the University of Sydney's What Matters campaign and vote on topics of importance to them.

The World Square and Chatswood displays will be active for a period of two weeks until 27 August, while the Martin Square display will be live for one week.

The What Matters community engagement campaign is a digital campaign that brings together University of Sydney academics and our global community to talk about issues that affect us all.

Through a dedicated microsite some of the University's top researchers and graduates discuss how their research 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 and online forums with specialist 'leading light' academics or graduates.

By voting on the site the public can share with the University what matters to them, providing the University and the public with a unique way to interact, even if people have never studied here or set foot on our campus.

Since beginning in April tens of thousands of people globally have visited the What Matters site, with a significant proportion also casting votes on what matters to them.

So far topics on sustainability have proved to matter most to those who cast their vote, with the top two topics being 'solving climate change for future generations' and 'reducing our environmental footprint' followed by 'preventing human rights abuses'.

The World Square and Chatswood displays will enable people to engage with five topics and cast a vote while the Martin Place display will poll two different topics daily. Topics will include those bound to touch a nerve with Sydneysiders such as traffic congestion and housing affordability, as well as more general themes such as refugee rights, marriage equality, support for the arts and mental health care.

"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 and the global community," 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 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."

"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.

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