Make a social impact: Students at the Heart of Knowledge Exchange

Students at the Heart of Knowledge Exchange (SHoKE) logo

Students at the Heart of Knowledge Exchange (SHoKE) is an innovative platform, enabling students to apply problem-solving techniques and make a personal social impact by collaborating with our partner organisations.

At the heart of our project is a diverse, rapidly growing community of several hundred volunteer students who are personally motivated to make a positive difference in the world, through Knowledge Exchange activities with our partners.

Projects typically focus upon organisational challenges relating to social value initiatives and sustainability. Teams perform ideas generation, scoping, analysis and research, formally presenting their findings at the end of the project with a presentation and report.

Typical benefits to partner organisations:

  • Reports have influenced the operational and strategic direction taken
  • Gain valuable insights & secondary research
  • Exposure to diverse perspectives
  • Connections to ARU’s academic knowledge base
  • Fast turnaround of projects managed by ARU staff

We are delivering three innovative services to our partners:

  • Student Consult: One-month semi-professional consultancy projects delivered by teams of postgraduates and researchers, trained and supported by professional staff at ARU.
  • Spotlight on: Four–month projects that generate a wide perspective on a major challenge that requires innovation and creativity. We challenge our entire student body to submit their creative ideas to our partners, who then select the most promising ideas and commission Student consult teams to provide an in-depth analysis and propose implementation strategies.
  • Impact 24: 24-hour ‘challenge events’ which involve multidisciplinary student teams from all levels coming together to identify potential solutions to partners societal challenges.

Currently the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners (PFCC) for Essex, Cambridgeshire and Essex County Councils are our partners. We are always looking to diversify our partner base, please email [email protected] for more information. Students can find out more on MyARU.

Three students at laptops in a cubicle, smiling together

SHoKE in the news

SHoKE students have been commissioned to support a regional project aimed at creating Safer Streets led by Essex Police and Essex County Council.

ARU students' ideas help key services combat violence against women and girls ARU students to help curb violence against women BBC News: Reducing violence against women

Work from Student Consult has been the most impactful, with teams’ reports and recommendations helping the Council form a foundation or starting point within emerging and quickly developing areas of work, such as Equality Diversity & Inclusion, Social Value, and Public Sector Reform. For example, the Student Consult work on Social Value has given us a solid starting point to begin forming our social value policy and strategize how it can be implemented.

Dustin McWherter
Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor, Cambridgeshire County Council

Impact 24 provided a great opportunity to facilitate knowledge exchange with ARU and to support learning and new creative ways of working.

The questions we put forward for the students to work on were real life issues and we were impressed by the interesting ideas presented back.

Andrew Lowing
Senior Equalities and Partnership Adviser, Essex County Council

Dealing with real social issues was exciting, and gave the team drive to deal with these issues and potentially make a change for the better.

Meeting new people from the challenge was great. All mentors were informative and great help on the scheme. The mentors were easy to approach and created a fun atmosphere for all.

Impact 24 student participant

[The best parts were] contributing to making a change to society and, most importantly, meeting everyone.

Impact 24 student participant