NORTHUMBRIA University and the International Centre for Life have launched a new partnership to bring science to life for the North-East public.

The ambitious collaborative learning and research partnership was sealed by the signing of an agreement by Professor Andrew Wathey, vice-chancellor of Northumbria University, and Linda Conlon, chief executive of the International Centre for Life to work more closely together.

The partnership between the two Newcastle institutions will see them work together on research projects, a postgraduate professional development programme and exhibitions.

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It has already led to the creation of a unique degree programme, officially unveiled during the launch.

The MSc Public Engagement with Science degree – the first of its kind in the UK – will be delivered by experts at both institutions. Its first cohort of students will begin in September this year.

Students will benefit from placements as well as access to Life’s facilities, where they will stage exhibitions and deliver public engagement activities. Upcoming partnership collaborations include the Body Worlds Vital exhibition, a display of real human bodies and organs that will make its UK debut at Life from May.

A Northumbria expert will be anatomist-in-residence during the exhibition, which tells the fascinating story of how best to fight life-threatening diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart ailments, through healthy choices and lifestyle changes.

The University is also working alongside Life as it hosts Maker Faire UK next month. The two-day festival showcases the creations of talented hackers, coders, DIYers and inventors.

Prof Wathey, said: “This new partnership between Northumbria and Centre for Life reflects a joint ambition to encourage people to think about science in new ways. A new collaborative degree programme in public engagement with science marks the first step toward realising this ambition, and is the first of a number of projects that will build on the strengths of our two organisations.”

Linda Conlon added: “We’re thrilled to have formed this new collaborative learning and research partnership with Northumbria University. It not only recognises the unique contribution that both organisations make to Newcastle and the North-East’s engagement with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) but also serves as the basis for a continuing programme of activity that reinforces Life’s mission to be the best place in the UK for enthusing and engaging everyone in science.”

During the partnership launch event, science explainers from Life demonstrated experiments and education workshops with school children, providing guests with an insight into the kind of career opportunities that the MSc public engagement with science degree could lead to.

A demonstration of how the North-East’s largest planetarium can be used to enthuse and engage students in physics and astronomy was led by head of public engagement, Elin Roberts.

The partnership announcement comes on the eve of national science and engineering week, a ten-day national programme of maths events and activities across the UK aimed at people of all ages.

It follows news last week of Northumbria University working with Life and other partners on a £1.2m project to get young people interested in physics.

Led by the university, Think Physics is an innovative, cradle-to-career venture aimed at using physics to inspire young people, particularly women, into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.