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Sharing stories to create change

Published:18 July 2016

Julie Adair presents at CQUniversity Melbourne campus.

A visitor from Glasgow Caledonian University, Julie Adair is keen to expand her ‘Common Good First’ project into Australia, capturing stories of community social impact across a wide range of areas.

Ms Adair is Director, Digital Collaboration for GCU and also has an extensive background in broadcasting with the BBC and the Walt Disney Company, with experience across several continents.

Common Good First is a digital exchange of grassroots solutions to pressing social problems, both in the UK and around the world. The Common Good First team has worked with a range of community projects to, first, promote their objectives online and then to investigate how cross-disciplinary academic networks could input innovative approaches to social change in response to the challenges the projects are facing.

“Stories take us beyond our own limited experiences and allow us to walk in the shoes of others, building knowledge of unknown places and understanding of diverse peoples,” Ms Adair says.

As her home institution is registered as an ‘Ashoka U Changemaker Campus’, Ms Adair is this week visiting the Melbourne Campus of CQUniversity, which has recently become Australia’s first approved Ashoka U institution.

She will talk about the project she started in 2015 with two small teams in Scotland and South Africa, each focusing on identifying and capturing stories of community social impact.

The project focused on individuals within communities who had found innovative ways to solve problems in their community.

“These activities ranged from re-educating prisoners to raising aspirations for young people in areas of high deprivation; from tackling dementia to supporting orphans and vulnerable children,” Ms Adair says.

“Now in Australia I’m keen to express the importance of storytelling and its role in driving social innovation and also why I’m keen to gather and curate stories from around the world.

“I’m keen to let people know how they can become part of our exciting project.

“CQUniversity has many similarities with my home institution of Glasgow Caledonian University, with a similar student demographic, including those who are first in their family to attend university.”

Ms Adair this week delivered a free public address on ‘Storytelling for Change’ at CQUni Melbourne.

Ms Adair has worked in interactive content since the mid-90s in senior roles at the BBC and The Walt Disney Company. She was part of the birth of BBC Online and contributed to many of the new services launched as the web grew within the BBC, particularly blogging, community services and events, games and education. At Disney, as Director of Online, Ms Adair was in charge of websites across Europe, growing teams and content in twenty-three countries and developing output for mobile and tablet platforms. 

In January 2012, she formed Adair Digital and worked on a portfolio of projects including leading teams and fund-raising within the Digimania group as CEO, consulting for Tsumanga Studios as they launched virtual worlds, and advising on digital policy for children and young people for the Scottish Government.

Ms Adair joined Glasgow Caledonian University in November 2014 to develop and launch an innovative social impact digital platform (now named Common Good First), which will have a global footprint and partner with colleagues in London, New York, Johannesburg - and beyond.

She also sits on the Scottish Government’s Industry Leadership Group for Digital Media and is visiting Professor of Interactivity, Content and Communities at the University of Abertay, Dundee. In her spare time, Julie supports a pre-school for the Maasai in Western Tanzania, which she fund-raised to build in 2012.