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    Listen again: talking all things Future Fest with the BBC

    3 June 2024

    A banner for the Harper Adams Future Fest

    With Future Fest 2024 later this month, interest is growing across the region – and one of senior team has chatted the BBC to let people know what to expect from the day.

    Chief Global Impact Officer Ian Rowley spoke with Radio Shropshire’s Clare Ashford about the event, on June 22, and how it is aimed at throwing the University’s doors open to welcome people from across the West Midlands to see what it does.

    He said: “It is that very local audience, those that live within a few miles of the campus that Future Fest is all about.

    “I think it’s really, really important that universities engage with people on their doorstep. Universities have a bit of a reputation for being closed off, don’t they? We used to call them ‘town and gown’ – where universities get on with their own thing and ignore the communities around them, and that’s not a good formula for success.

    “We’ve been in our location in Edgmond for nearly 125 years – we’ve got a big anniversary coming up in a couple of year’s time – and we were created to support that local community, we have always worked very closely with communities , with the farming, with the food process communities on our doorstep.

    “In the last couple of years, coming out of covid, we’re working even harder to reconnect with businesses, with people, with communities on our doorstep.

    “Future Fest is about throwing open the doors, bringing down the barriers between the town and the gown, the University campus and the local community, and saying ‘Come on in, see what’s inside!’

    “We’re opening parts of the University which aren’t normally open to the public, so our farm, which is more half the campus, will be open for people to come and have a look around, come and have tours, there’ll be a farmers’ market, street food, there’ll be talks, a wonderful, wonderful exhibition called Pollution Pods, which is a rare, rare opportunity that’s never been in Shropshire before and is absolutely wonderful.”


    Explaining the pods, Ian said: “They are an art installation, so they are something that you wander into and experience as an individual. They were created by a  London academic called Michael Pinsky who is also an installation artist and they are five domes.

    “You move from one dome to the next and in each dome, you experience the climate and the air quality in five different cities around the world. One of those, interestingly, is Beijing, another is London – so some are familiar - and I was lucky enough to experience these domes when I attended the COP 28 summit in Dubai.

    “My golly – you don’t notice when you are somewhere quite how polluted an area is, but when you move very quickly from area to another, there are huge differences, and we recognise the environmental damage that we have done as a world, and the impact that humans have on the local area and the impact that has on health and wellbeing.”

    And he added: “We are really proud to have them – it’s a rare opportunity, they exhibit all around the world, so it’s great to have them on campus, great to have bring them to Shropshire.”

    Ian stressed the festival had no charge for entry to Future Fest, and added: “It’s completely free, it’s a completely free festival – it’s a festival of talk, it’s a festival of food, so it will be a great day where you don’t have to put your hand in your pocket at all.

    “There will be a charge for parking – because we have to manage that, the best way to do that is to book that in advance, where you will get a little ticket which will be £5 in advance or on the day it will be £10.

    “We are putting on a free shuttle bus which leave from the train station in Telford, connect with campus and then also pick up in Newport, which is completely free so people can come without having to drive their cars – which is quite important, given that we are talking environmental and climate change and what we can do to mitigate against that – but when people are there, we hope people will have a good time, everything will be free apart from the food – we hope people will buy food from local vendors.”

    Listen again to the whole interview here from 1hr, 45 min and 20 seconds in, and find out more about Future Fest and book your place here.



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