Social impact

Imperial College’s vision is to pioneer new ways of enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with the wonder of science, engineering, medicine and business. Societal engagement expresses Imperial’s commitment to share the wonder of what we do by engaging with the public – including schools, patients and local communities – to provide opportunities to share ideas and discoveries and to ensure that our education and research benefits society.

Imperial College offers a range of opportunities for you to combine your passion for social action with your academic expertise, work experience and entrepreneurial spirit to benefit society and affect change in the world.

1. Innovative public engagement opportunities

Here at Imperial, we are continually seeking new opportunities to connect our research with fresh voices and experiences – and using these insights to help shape our research. This includes inviting the public to explore the unexpected side of science at Imperial Fringe events throughout the year and to see the very best in science and arts at the annual Imperial Festival, which features interactive activities, tours, inspirational talks, performances and engaging workshops. All events offer opportunities for students to volunteer.

Imperial College runs a number of in-school and on-campus activities for school children such as the FoNS Schools Sciences Competition, The Pimlico Connection mentoring scheme and a range of workshops and demo days at the Wohl reach out lab. There are also opportunities to spend an hour a week helping students and academics improve their English and sharing your experiences of the UK through The Conversation Project, or to mentor and motivate school children of all ages through IntoUniversity.

The Invention Rooms is Imperial’s newest platform for local community engagement – and the first project of its kind by any UK university. Launching in 2017, this dynamic space in the heart of White City will give people of all backgrounds the opportunity to take part in creative and entrepreneurial programmes and hands-on making activities. Here, people can develop their creative ideas into real working prototypes. The Invention Rooms contains three unique zones:

Reach Out Makerspace – A specially designed space for children and young people to gain hands-on experience of entrepreneurial thinking and prototyping.

Advanced Hackspace – Cutting-edge workshop facilities for students, staff and partners to work together in solving challenges and turning ideas into innovative inventions.

Interaction Zone – A welcoming venue for public events, where local people and College partners can connect with science and Imperial’s research.

Our work at The Invention Rooms builds on a worldwide ‘maker movement’ in which the College has played a pioneering role. We have already seen many exciting results. Successful student inventions from our Advanced Hackspace (boasting over 2,000 members and growing fast) include Lifebox, a low-cost baby incubator, and GyroGlove, a glove to dampen hand tremors for patients with Parkinson’s

Community Connections is an Imperial College Union volunteering programme that enables and empowers students to take action on social issues they feel passionate about. The scheme has over 150 community and charitable partner organisations and a wide range of roles and opportunities available. The programme also includes one-off mass volunteering opportunities across London throughout the year, which is a great way to meet new people and develop skills while taking part in a rewarding activity.

ACT Now! is a flagship development programme for student social entrepreneurs, run by Imperial College Students’ Union. The six step programme guides students from idea creation to a final showcase in the spring term and includes ‘Hack-it, Crack-it’ sessions, which bring together students from all faculties to identify problems and generate entrepreneurial solutions.

Student social entrepreneurs can apply for seed funding through the Imperial College Unions’ Social Enterprise Support Fund, which has been designed to help new and existing student-led social enterprises based at Imperial College.

The World Government Summit brings together prominent leaders to shape the future of governments worldwide. The Summit brings together prominent leaders from the public and private sectors with the aim to engage in dialogue to shape future governments and improve the lives of citizens worldwide.

A group of students from MSc Management, MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management, and MSc Strategic Marketing attended the World Government Summit 2017 and listened to talks from Elon Musk, Travis Kalenic, and other world and business leaders. Read MSc Strategic Marketing student Shyam Anjara’s blog entry on the Summit.

MSc Management students have the option to opt for the Social Project as their summer elective and either consult for, or carry out a work placement at, a social enterprise, a not-for-profit organisation or foundation. The project has a social impact focus and you can develop your management potential by applying problem solving techniques to a challenging work environment. You’re expected to perform real business analyses and it’ a great chance to apply the knowledge and skills you’ve developed on other parts of the programme.

The President’s Awards for Excellence in Societal Engagement are annual awards to recognise and reward staff, students and community partners who have delivered excellence in schools engagement, community engagement, engagement with research and/or patient engagement. In 2017 Imperial College established the Student Award for Societal Engagement, which is aimed at undergraduate or postgraduate students who have taken the initiative to deliver high-quality engagement activities with the public, schools, community groups and/or patients. This could include:

  • Demonstrating exceptional commitment to engagement
  • Developing innovative engagement activities
  • Being a role model or inspiration to others
  • Motivating and supporting others to engagement
  • Sharing advice and experiences in engagement with others

The Imperial MBA has helped me become aware of not only my true passion for driving disruptive social change, but how I can utilize my unique skillset to create the most impact in this space. This has allowed me to make intentional career decisions that I can 100% stand behind.

Nicole MoogalianFull-Time MBA 2015-16Hear more from Nicole Moogalian