CQUni students explore Gladstone, share development ideas

THERE are 20 CQUniversity students exploring our region for a first time two-week course in Social Innovation and Community Engaged Learning.

The pilot project started on June 29 and since then students have met with Gladstone industry, business and community leaders to determine the challenges faced by our fast-changing regional city.

Dubbed the Gladstone Region Social Innovator Incubator, the project is an initiative of CQUni Associate Vice-Chancellor (Gladstone Region) Professor Owen Nevin, Social Innovation Project Manager Dr Julie Roberts, and Gladstone Regional Council Multicultural Community Relations Officer Luis Arroyo.

Dr Roberts said students would also hear from national and international social entrepreneurs, about successful community projects they had established.

"There's so much students can learn in this space, but the key for this course is getting inspired - coming face to face with real-life challenges for regional communities, and being given the means to tackle these challenges creatively.

"As part of the course, students will be asked to start developing projects that could address challenges around health, security, safety, and opportunity in the community. 

The students will also get the chance to fast-track their understanding of the Gladstone Region, with home accommodation being provided by local families for their two-week stay.

Students will finish the two weeks with the ability to evaluate and assess social impact, design social innovation projects, and better understand the finance, process and leadership required in the new sector.

They will also leave behind a number of ideas for potential future development, with one project to be chosen by an expert "Dragon's Den" panel as particularly worthy of implementation.  CQUniversity's International Directorate has donated $5000 to kick-start driving this idea to a reality.

The course will be developed around the Gladstone 2035 Vision, which earlier this year set out to capture community priorities for the future of Gladstone.

"We're hoping our students will bring fresh and innovative eyes to those challenges of how to engage people, and work out what inspires them to be part of their region, and to work together to build resilient and prosperous community," Ms Roberts said. 

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