Connect for: A better future

A program of innovation and impact
An exciting program that ran from July - October 2020.

Themed around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of good health and wellbeing, reduced inequalities, climate action and partnerships for the goals, and the idea of connections, the program was a celebration of innovation and impact.

Public talks and podcasts

A series of free, virtual public talks and podcasts from the future of work to rethinking the distribution of water for a more equitable and sustainable future.


Raising the age of criminal responsibility

In Australia, children as young as 10 can be arrested by police and put in prison. Studies have shown that early interaction with the criminal justice system can do more harm than good.

Art of influence: Bronwyn Bancroft

Dr Bronwyn Bancroft is a proud Bundjalung woman, celebrated artist and 2020 Alumni Award recipient. In this 'Art of influence' conversation, hear Bronwyn reflect on her impressive career, which traverses various worlds of contemporary art, fashion design, children’s book illustration and activism.

Art of influence: Shaun Gladwell

Shaun Gladwell’s work tackles, stretches and tears at the fringes of society and reality. He’s put skateboarding and graffiti into galleries, experimented with opera, and put virtual art on the market for sale. He shares his approach and advice in this conversation event.

What will the future of women’s work look like?

Join leaders in business, government, education and advocacy to explore the gendered impacts of COVID-19 and global trends impacting women’s rights to and at work.

Why climate change and unsustainable development are health hazards

Rising temperatures and heatwaves; drought and interruptions to food supply; rising infectious diseases; air pollution; and extreme weather events all have a very real impact on one’s physical and mental health.

Art of influence: Marc Newson

Hear from one of the most influential designers of his generation. Marc Newson has collaborated with the likes of Nike, Louis Vuitton and Qantas and his work is held in the collections of major museums around the world.

Connect for: A better future launch

What role do the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals play in designing a better future? Speakers include Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC, Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence AC, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison, Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM and Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox.

Student challenges

A series of student competitions, to design solutions to real-world probelms, translate their research and help with vaccination research.

The Student Innovation Challenge supports student entrepreneurs to take their big idea to the next level.

The winners, announced on 27 August 2020, included technologies to help city planners track traffic, prevent diabetes-induced blindness and provide women with clear pathways into STEM.

More information.

Students and staff were invited to participate in a Coding Challenge to help understand vaccine related misinformation.

The Challenge will contribute to research by Associate Professor Adam Dunn, from the Faculty of Medicine and Health, on vaccine sentiment from Twitter posts.

Simon Cai and Benoit Berthelier tied for equal highest classification score for the Twitter dataset and will each receive a cash prize of $2250.

The team of Charles Hyland, Alexey Vlaskin, Xuanchi Liu, Eduardo Altmann and  Lamiae Azizi will receive the Artemis Prize of $500 for using the most novel techniques and approaching the problem with revealing insights.

More information.

3 Minute Thesis is an international competition that features higher degree by research students from over 55 institutions across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. It challenges students to tell the story of their research: what they are doing, why it matters, and what they hope to achieve, in three minutes.

The winner competes against students from other universities in the Asia-Pacific final event.

Nisharnthi Duggan, from the School of Chemistry, was announced as this year's winner for her explanation of her work on developing a new treatment for stroke based on spider venom.

Visualise Your Thesis is an international competition that challenges graduate researchers to summarise their research in an engaging, 60-second visual multimedia presentation. It gives the researcher the opportunity to build essential digital communication skills so they can effectively communicate complex research to a general audience. 

Francisco Garcia Bulle Bueno, from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, was announced as this year's winner for her explanation on how to count tropical pollinators in Australia.

Industry forecast forums

A series of virtual roundtable discussions bringing academics, industry and policy makers together to brainstorm solutions for key issues facing Australia - from resilience from COVID-19 and the black summer bushfires, to creating smart cities and food security. 

Embedding sensing, IoT devices and nanotechnologies into our built environment provides opportunities and challenges for how we design, build, live and manage our cities. How does our notion of the smart city change in the context of the current pandemic? Will our cities ever look the same, and will these physical changes change our economy? Will we return to large office blocks?

Explore the ideas from this event, including how new technologies can be applied and adapted to a post-pandemic built environment.

Faced with the consequences of climate change and the knock-on political and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, how will these twin crises alter the way people live, work and socialise? Post-pandemic, how will we reshape our society to improve people’s lives and livelihoods, especially for the most vulnerable? Do we need to consider how to balance short term gains and long-term resilience?

Bringing experts from mental health, economics, business and disaster response, the discussion mapped the ecosystem that’s required for a strong recovery, identify opportunities for shared value and develop unlikely coalitions for rebuilding. Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner of Resilience NSW, gave a keynote speech.

Explore the ideas from this event.


An exciting installation was installed on the University's Camperdown campus from 6 October - 15 November.

Our Grasses for Grains ground-breaking research at Narrabri in Northern NSW is focussed on using Australia’s native grasses to produce grains that are more sustainable than the traditional grains brought in from overseas.
Led by Narrabri research scientist Dr Angela Pattinson, the work looks at environmental sustainability, indigenous land management, climate change, and the urban verse regional debate.

We brought together experts from the University community to create a free public art installation, Dhuwarr: a celebration of Gomeroi grasses, grains and placemaking, to represent this research and spark delate about innovation and sustainability.

The installation was a collaboration between:

  • Michael Mossman (Kuku Yalanji) – School of Architecture Design and Planning
  • Richard Leplastrier – Architect
  • Jack Gillmer (Worimi Birrpai) – Graduate of Architecture
  • Dr Angela Pattison – Faculty of Science
  • Professor Jakelin Troy (Ngarigu) - Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research
  • Callum Craigie (Gamilaraay) 
  • Anna Burns
  • Steve Burns

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