- How The Common Room will help to reduce our impact on the globe and make the world a better place for everyone
- The way in which the building has become a venue for open-minded and inclusive discussion and debate
- About the revolutionary nature of this new and exciting organisation in the heart of Newcastle
Equality, education and sustainability – these are just a few of the key principles in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The collection of 17 global targets has gained increasing support in recent years as we tackle worldwide challenges, including poverty, hunger, health and climate change.
At The Common Room, we are committed to playing our role in building a better and more sustainable future for all and that is why this shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet underpins everything we do.
The 17 SDGs each in their own way play into the story of The Common Room. The values that connect us are the ambition to make the world a better place, to improve the lot of people everywhere, to educate and help people to improve themselves, and to reduce our impact on the planet.
These principles lie at the heart of the ethos of The Common Room as it reimagines itself as a place for open debate, and as we strive to move for- wards towards a better future through innovation.
Leading the Green Revolution
One of the most pressing issues in the SDGs is tackling climate change. Several of the goals – affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production, climate action, and sustainable cities and communities – seek to address this global emergency.
The North East is at the forefront of the green revolution because an enormous amount of the world’s intellectual property, which will help us address the effects of climate change through electrification, is generated in the region.
But there is much work still to be done. A lot of the electrification innovation is currently developed in the North East, but not a lot of it is manufactured here. One of the reasons I am involved with driving the electric revolution is to try and change that.
The North East is in a strong position at the moment but we need investment in people and education in order to succeed.
This is where The Common Room will excel. Through education and engagement, we will play a key role in inspiring the next generation of innovators and engineers.
Driving the Agenda
Equality and education are really at the heart of what The Common Room is about. The vision for The Common Room is that once you cross the threshold, you leave all your preconceived ideas at the door and you go in with an open mind and you debate and discuss and you’re educated as well.
However, it isn’t just in recent years that these issues made their way onto the agenda at Neville Hall.
Described as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, The Common Room’s forebearer the Mining Institute was long concerned with issues such as skills and education.
The work that was done there in the early days was all about the people. It was about sustaining growth, keeping workers safe and lifting them out of poverty. It was a very forward-thinking organisation.
And it is these historic values, as well as the UN SDGs, that we draw inspiration from as The Common Room establishes itself.
The goals and objectives for the planet may have evolved but when you look at the sustainability goals, it still has to be grounded in people, ethos, education and commerce.
Just as the Mining Institute grew to be a global resource and an epicentre of thought, The Common Room can now mirror that important role as we drive forwards the green industrial revolution of the future.
Building a Sustainable and Fair Future
My hope for The Common Room hasn’t changed since the day I first walked into Neville Hall. It is about that fantastic building being a place where people can be educated, debate their ideas, come to consensus and then do something about it.
It’s the latter point – working together to do something with innovative ideas – that I think has over the last few decades lost its way in the region. It’s going to be difficult to get back but I don’t think it’s impossible.
My ambition for The Common Room is that is becomes somewhere with atmosphere. Somewhere not lofty, but inclusive and not grandiose, but communal. I imagine The Common Room as a place where people can think and where they can incubate ideas.
A Place of Global Repute
The Common Room will be at the forefront of debate. The home of open discussion where we can figure out what good looks like and then start doing something about it.
The North East is awash with people who have great ideas and who are lauded the world over but they’re not collegiate. The Common Room – the clue being in the name – will bring people together who have things in common.
The Common Room is a revolutionary project and I’m absolutely certain it will become a place of international significance, with a world-class reputa- tion for leading the way in building a sustainable and fair future for us all.
Matt Boyle OBE is an Independent Non-Executive Chairman for The Common Room, Chair of the North East Automotive Alliance, a Member of the IET national skills policy committee, Executive Chair for DER Industrialisation Centres and a Professor of Practice at Newcastle University’s Engi- neering Faculty.
He was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year Honours list for services to Engineering and Skills and was recently appointed as a Professor of Practice at Newcastle University to help deliver the Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centres project.