Keep an eye on this page for dates to add to your diary and join us to hear about where we are so far, the support we have in place, and the next steps in taking this initiative forward.

Future events

play  ‘Play is finding expression; it is letting us understand the world and, through that understanding, challenging the establishment, leading for knowledge, and creating new ties or breaking old ones.’ (Sicart, M. (2014) Play Matters. Cambridge: MIT Press, p. 18) 

ground  1) An area used for a specified purpose 2) An area of knowledge or subject of discussion or thought 3) Factors forming a basis for action or the justification for a belief. Oxford Dictionaries (2018) ‘Ground’, available online at (Accessed 11.09.18)


Playground is at once both a shared ground for the exchange of ideas, and a space in which both existing and new ideas can be played with, their meanings and possibilities examined and explored. We will explore lessons arising out of work to date by collaborators and guests, and consider their potential to inform future ways of working. 

Playground brings together both University of Plymouth staff and students active in civic-based learning and development, alongside a wide range of similarly-minded external partners.

Playground will operate as a series of lunchtime events, in which invited contributors will prompt and participate in a dialogue about their practice with other players in the room. Attendees are asked to bring their own lunch; tea/coffee and water/juice will be provided.

Playground is part of the Urban Dialogues Network, an initiative within The Arts Institute and supported by the Centre for Sustainable Futures within the University of Plymouth.

Wednesday 3 April, 1:15–2:00
John Kilburn (Illustration)

Wednesday 1 May, 1:15–2:00
Dr Annika BautzProfessor Anthony CaleshuProfessor James DaybellProfessor Dan Maudlin (The Arts Institute/School of Humanities and Performing Arts)

All Playground sessions are held in The Sustainability Hub (Kirkby Lodge).

Past events

Playground session – 6 March 2019

Rosie Brennan, Sarah Guy and Julie Thompson (Law)

Rosie, Sarah and Julie, together with some of their students and external partners including from the British Red Cross and Plymouth Community Homes, provided a presentation on their awarding winning law clinic and external outreach with Devonport High School for Girls in Plymouth.

Presenting on the award-winning law clinic and outreach work with Devonport High School for Girls

The range and extent of the law school’s commitment to supporting Plymouth residents is impressive, which includes: client-facing clinics ( law, employment law, welfare tribunal, and refugee family reunion clinics); partnership and interdisciplinary work (i.e. the MedLaw project with the medical school, Wolferstans and Foot Anstey solicitors; and partnerships with the British Red Cross, Citizens Advice and Shelter); and teaching, legal and community research (i.e. International humanitarian law project with Devonport High School for Girls, the street law project, and the crime law in history project).

Some very constructive insights were raised in discussion, noting both the laudable achievements of this work and some very real challenges faced:

  • Crucial to the law clinic’s ongoing viability and resilience is a critical awareness of the need to continually reflect upon, and evolve its practice in response to the emerging conditions and issues faced both by the communities and partners they work with, but also with considerations affecting the actual running of the clinic.
  • Law students are highly supportive of the opportunities for personal and professional development provided by contributing to the clinic, which includes: changing their perspective on their own education; becoming more analytical in their learning; changing their sense of professionalism; and heightening their independence and ability to operate both in their studies and in a professional context.
  • Meaningful partnerships have been realised with both the community and external stakeholders, but this meaningfulness arises out of continuity and commitment over time. Such relationships are underpinned by the dedication of staff (and students) to making it work, with staff in parallel providing significant support to students to develop their capacity to work with the wider community and external partners.

Playground session – 13 February 2019

Toshiko Terazono (Architecture) and Dr Karen Wickett (Early Childhood Studies)

Toshiko and Karen, together with some of their students and Brian Lee (former headteacher at Ham Drive Nursery) provided a presentation on their work at Ham Drive Nursery and Riverside Nursery in Plymouth.

Aerial photo of new outdoor learning space at Riverside Nursery, Plymouth

Both projects have been a success, with Year 3 BA Early Childhood Studies students supporting Year 1 BA Architecture students in consulting with the children at these nurseries, and providing insights on early childhood learning to the architecture students as they developed designs for new outdoor play/learning spaces at the nurseries. The architecture students then went on to construct these new spaces as part of their course work.

The discussion the presentation prompted was probing, and revealed some useful and at times challenging observations including:

  • So much in the way of questions and ideas arises during the course of the collaboration; a real challenge is finding both ways and time to capture this dialogue and not let it disappear.
  • Different styles of learning, and differences in types of learning spaces, between the architecture students and early childhood studies students, posed a challenge for the respective groups of students understanding each other’s ways of thinking and working.
  • There is a real need to examine what the other party is gaining from the collaboration and project as a whole; i.e., it is useful to have a shared sense of purpose.
  • The students’ having a sense of ownership – that is, over the process and of the outcome – can contribute to the success of the project.
  • There was a real value in Toshiko and Karen modelling an openness to collaborative working to the students.


Urban Dialogues Network website launch

Our new website launched on Thursday 6 December.

Urban Dialogues start-up get-together

Wednesday 28 February, 13.15–14.00, Room 207, Roland Levinsky Building

There was the opportunity to join us for a short discussion, alongside tea, coffee and cake, to hear about where we were so far, the support already in place, and the next steps in taking this initiative forward.

Urban Dialogues Network launch

Thursday 19 April, 16.30–18.00 Room 206–207 Roland Levinsky Building

This event celebrated our ambitions and gave us the opportunity to discuss both the potential and challenges of our agenda. We were joined on the evening by our guest speakers who included:

  • Jackie Clift, CEO of POP Plus (Plymouth Octopus Project – powering Plymouth’s voluntary sector)
  • Hazel Stuteley OBE, Connecting Communities
  • Lynne Sullivan OBE, Royal Institute of British Architects Ambassador for Climate Change (2015–2017).